After being robbed of the chance to become the first man to beat Chris Carr in a straight fight at the Peoria TT in 2002, Team Memphis Shades/Parts Unlimited’s J.R. Schnabel returned to this year’s classic event with a score to settle, and settle it he did. The 22-year-old Wisconsinite won the historic TT with a dramatic last-lap pass – much in the same way that he lost it to two-wheeled American hero Nicky Hayden in 2002. Schnabel’s victim? None other than the Prince of Peoria himself, Chris Carr.
Schnabel got off the line third, behind two other young hotshots, Moroney’s Harley-Davidson’s Jake Johnson and Coziahr Harley-Davidson’s Johnny Murphree. Carr then came from about the seventh position, and he passed Murphree and Schnabel for second place by lap 10. The three riders diced back and forth until Carr re-assumed the second spot and began to draw them closer to Johnson. Carr inherited the lead when Johnson low-sided in turn four; the talented New Jersey rider would remount to finish fourth.
Schnabel finally shook Murphree and went after Carr late in the race, picking up as much as three or four lengths per lap over the big Peoria jump to place himself right on Carr’s tail section as they hit the last two left-handers before the straightaway. When Carr, aboard one of only two old-school flat trackers in the field, went wide to avoid the bumps down low, Schnabel drove his factory-backed Yamaha YZF450 down low and put a slide job on Carr, then beat him to the finish line for the win.
It was Schnabel’s second career AMA Grand National win, and it did give him another foonote in the history books, as he became the first Yamaha rider to win the Peoria TT for Yamaha since Scott Pearson, who did the deed aboard a Yamaha twin in 1981. Tommy Hayden gave Yamaha its first GNC win since Pearson when he won the inaugural Springfield TT.
The win also moved Schnabel to seventh in the series standings, while Carr’s second-place finish further strengthened his series lead over Joe Kopp, who finished a disappointing 17th after his factory KTM broke in the main event.
GRAND NATIONAL (25 laps, 18 riders): 1. JR Schnabel (Yam); 2. Chris Carr (Rot); 3. Johnny Murphree (Hon); 4. Jake Johnson (Hon); 5. Bryan Smith (Hon); 6. Dan Stanley (Hon); 7. Henry Wiles (Hon); 8. Shaun Russell (KTM); 9. Larry Pegram (KTM); 10. Kevin Atherton (Yam); 11. Bryan Bigelow (Hon); 12. Steve Beattie (Hon); 13. Jared Mees (Hon); 14. Gary Rogers (Hon); 15. Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (KTM); 16. Rob Pearson (Hon); 17. Joe Kopp (KTM); 18. Rich King (H-D).
Time: 11 min., 10.141 sec.
AMA / PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE U.S. FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES POINT STANDINGS (after 11 of 17 rounds): 1. Chris Carr (200 pts / 4 wins); 2. Johnny Murphree (163); 3. Joe Kopp (157 / 2); 4. Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (129); 5. Rich King (111 / 1); 6. Jake Johnson (102 / 1); 7. JR Schnabel (80 / 1); 8. Kevin Atherton (73); 9. Jay Springsteen (72); 10. Bryan Bigelow (67); 11. Mike Hacker (62); 12. Shaun Russell (59); 13. Paul Lynch (51); 14. (TIE) Brett Landes (1) / Geo Roeder II (43); 16. Willie McCoy (39); 17. Steve Beattie (38); 18. Jared Mees (36); 19. Terry Poovey (34); 20. Raun Wood (32).