Garth Bastian wins AMA Tunica Short Track

| March 31, 2003
When the railbirds were looking down the 93-rider entry list to guess who might win the Tunica Short Track at the Paul Battle Arena in Tunica, Mississippi, few if any would have picked Garth Bastian (52). Even after winning his heat race the young New Yorker himself didn’t even have his sights set that high. But, in a town where fortunes are quickly won or lost, Bastian hit the jackpot, earning his first career AMA Grand National win last Saturday night.

“When I won my heat and had a front row start, I thought a top five would be amazing,” Bastian said. “Then to have this happen, it’s crazy.”

Crazy or not the GC Racing/Nichols Gas & Oil/Ward Performance-backed Wood-Rotax rider, ended the night on the top step of the podium.

Quality Checked Certified Pre-Owned Ford Racing’s Chris Carr picked up right where he left off in Daytona, sitting on the pole for the 30-lap National. At the flash of green, it felt like Daytona revisited, as he put his potent Vor out front, with Coziahr Harley-Davidson’s Johnny Murphree in second and Bartel’s Harley-Davidson’s Jay Shaun Russell in third.

The race was red-flagged when rookie GNC Expert Rob Pearson and Canadian rider Steve Beattie collided, and it set up for a wild-and-woolly nine-lap dash to the checkered flag. Bastian stuck with his original game plan, running the bottom while those in front of him began changing lines. Bastian took over the lead late in the race and held on to win. Carr finished second, followed by Joe Kopp.

Here are the main event and series points standings from Tunica:

Paul Battle Arena
Tunica, Mississippi
Results: March 29, 2003 (Round 2 of 20):
GRAND NATIONAL (30 laps, 16 riders): 1. Garth Bastian (W-R); 2. Chris Carr (Vor); 3. Joe Kopp (KTM); 4. Ken Yoder (Hon); 5. Johnny Murphree (Rot); 6. Rich King (H-D); 7. Mike Hacker (Hon); 8. Shaun Russell (Rot); 9. Don Mullen II (Hon); 10. Bryan Bigelow (Hon); 11. Terry Poovey (Rot); 12. A.J. Eslick (Suz); 13. Rob Pearson (Hon); 14. Tom McGrane Jr. (Rot); 15. Aaron Creamer (Hon); 16. Steve Beattie (Hon).
Time: None, due to red flag.
AMA PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE U.S. FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After 2 of 18 rounds): 1. Chris Carr (42/1 win); 2. Johnny Murphree (33); 3. Joe Kopp (29); 4. Rich King (24); 5. Garth Bastian (23/1); 6. Jay Springsteen (16); 7. (TIE) Ken Yoder/Jake Johnson (15); 9. Brett Landes (14); 10. (TIE) Mike Hacker/Ricky Winsett Jr. (12); 12. (TIE) Terry Poovey/Shaun Russell (11); 14. (TIE) Don Mullen II/Raun Wood (10); 16. (TIE) Bryan Bigelow/Mike Varnes (9); 18. J.R. Schnabel (8); 19. (TIE) A.J. Eslick/Cory McDermitt (7).
Upcoming Rounds:
Round 3 – Springfield, Illinois, May 24
Round 4 – Springfield, Illinois, May 25

By Dave Hoenig