Atherton, Roeder Rock Del Mar Mile

| October 7, 2002
Saddlemen Racing/National Cycle Supply’s Kevin Atherton and Las Vegas Harley-Davidson/Roeder Harley-Davidson/KK Motorcycle Supply’s Geo Roeder II thoroughly dominated their respective classes at the Formula USA season finale K&N Filters Del Mar Mile on October 6, but Jones-backed Terry Poovey once again claimed the Drag Specialties Formula USA National Dirt Track Championship.

Poovey, 44, of Euless, Texas, came into the final race at Del Mar with a 20-point cushion over J.R. Schnabel, and 30 points ahead of Joe Kopp. He upped it to 22 points with a win in his heat race, and needed to finish ninth if Schnabel won the main event. During a tense main event in which Poovey ran as far back as 15th while Schnabel ran third early, Poovey prevailed, coming home 12th after Schnabel finished fifth.

“I’m happy to win it, especially after I had such a bad night on the short track the night before,” Poovey said. “I had a great year, and I feel like I can still run with ‘em if I can get good starts. Being a two-time champion is great, and I like this Formula USA program. Hopefully, in time, this series will really mean something big.”

Meanwhile, Atherton smoked the field in the 20-lap Pro Singles main to finish over 13 seconds ahead of the runner-up, Quality Checked Certified Pre-owned Ford/Vor-backed Chris Carr on a dusty, rutty Del Mar Fairgrounds mile track that once again had riders raising the same old safety issues. It was Atherton’s first career Formula USA win and his second National dirt track win of the season.

“I just wish the racetrack would have made it so that we could have had a better race for the fans,” Atherton said afterward. “It was a good day for us, though. That little bike is really fun to ride. It’s light, and you can really run it into the corners hard. My game plan was just to not have to race anybody. I thought that Chris was going to have something for me early, but we got away from him. It went well.”

Team Harley-Davidson’s Rich King finished third aboard the factory Buell Blast-powered Harley-Davidson 500R while still nursing his broken left shoulder, which he aggravated once again in the Super Singles & Twins Challenge event held just before the Pro Single main.

In that race, Roeder was the class of the field aboard his Skip Eaken-prepared Harley-Davidson XR750. The Ohioan sat on the pole for the 12-lap shootout, and he made the best of it by bolting into the lead and checking out immediately. Corbin Racing’s Kenny Coolbeth tried to put up a fight on his Suzuki TL1000, but his superior straightaway speed was negated by Roeder’s better-handling XR in the corners. Coolbeth would eventually drop to fourth, behind Dallas Harley-Davidson’s Willie McCoy and Moroney’s Harley-Davidson’s Jake Johnson, who finished second and third.

“That was almost too easy,” said Roeder, who won the 2000 Del Mar Mile twins event. “I kept expecting to see Kenny blow by me on that Suzuki, just like when Joe Kopp and I had that back-and-forth battle here a couple years ago. I just kept waiting and waiting. After a while, I looked back, and there was nobody there.”

Roeder also put in a decent showing in the Pro Singles main event. Riding a Honda, he finished 12th.

Del Mar Fairgrounds
Del Mar, California
Results: October 6, 2002 (Round 10 of 10):
PRO SINGLES NATIONAL (20 laps; 19 riders): 1. Kevin Atherton (Hon); 2. Chris Carr (Vor); 3. Rich King (H-D); 4. Jake Johnson (Hon); 5. J.R. Schnabel (Hon); 6. Joe Kopp (KTM); 7. Dan Butler (Suz); 8. Jared Mees (Hon); 9. Danny Eslick (Suz); 10. Nate Wait (Hon); 11. Geo Roeder II (Hon); 12. Terry Poovey (ATK); 13. Willie McCoy (Hon); 14. Matt Wait (Hon); 15. Kenny Coolbeth (KTM); 16. Larry Pegram (Suz); 17. Bryan Smith (Hon); 18. Gary Rogers (Hon); 19. Steve Murray (KTM).
Time: 13 min., 57.496 sec.
FORMULA USA/DRAG SPECIALTIES NATIONAL DIRT TRACK SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After 10 of 10 rounds): 1. Terry Poovey (276/1 win); 2. J.R. Schnabel (268/1 win); 3. Joe Kopp (256/1 win); 4. Rich King (220/2 wins); 5. Dan Stanley (152); 6. Chris Carr (150/2 wins); 7. Bryan Smith (132); 8. Willie McCoy (116); 9. (TIE) Larry Pegram (112)/Kenny Coolbeth (112); 11. Jared Mees (110); 12. Matt Wait (100); 13. Brett Landes (92); 14. (TIE) Steve Murray (78)/Trenton Bailey (78); 16. Tommy Hayden (76/1 win); 17. Cory West (62); 18. Bryan Bigelow (60); 19. Jennifer Snyder (58); 20. Brian Vincent (52).

SUPER SINGLES & TWINS CHALLENGE (12 laps; 10 riders): 1. Geo Roeder II (H-D); 2. Willie McCoy (H-D); 3. Jake Johnson (H-D); 4. Kenny Coolbeth (Suz); 5. Shaun Russell (H-D); 6. Jared Mees (H-D); 7. Kevin Varnes (H-D); 8. Jay Springsteen (H-D); 9. Jess Roeder (H-D); 10. Rich King (H-D).
Time: 8 min., 12.297 sec.

By Scott Rousseau