After being denied the opportunity to carry a national number one plate when Clear Channel Entertainment Motor Sports pulled the plug on the Formula USA National Dirt Track Series little more than a month ago – something the entertainment giant said it would not do at the end of its season last October – Smith was a Pro Singles Champion without a home. But during last night’s traditional Daytona Municipal Hot Shoe event that serves as the prelude to the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championships season opener, Smith served notice that he’ll be one to watch when the Grand National dirt trackers get down to business in Daytona tonight.
The Doc’s Harley-Davidson/KK Motorcycle Supply-backed Smith stormed off the second from outside position on the front row and chased KTM/Jones Powersports’ Joe Kopp off turn two. He then became the first rider to jump on the high line of the limestone quarter mile in turns three and four, arching his way around Kopp to lead at the stripe for the start of lap two. From there, Smith was never headed. Soon, almost everybody moved to the top of the track, mimicking the 19-year-old Michigander’s move, and the racing was effectively over well before the end of the 15-lap main event. Smith won the race with little over 1.1 seconds in hand.
Smith also prevailed against the current AMA number one, Quality Checked Certified Pre-owned Ford Racing’s Chris Carr, who managed to dispose of Jake Johnson early and then ran down Kopp, passing him for second on the outside of turn four on lap eight. Kenny Coolbeth, Kopp’s KTM teammate amd one of the few riders running through the bumps on the low line, would also move up to challenge Kopp, but Kopp would hold on for third by little more than a wheel at the finish. Coolbeth was fourth. American Honda/1-800-FASTHOG-backed Johnson finished a solid fifth and was the first rider aboard a stock motocross-framed machine to cross the finish line.
Daytona Municipal Stadium
Daytona Beach, Florida
Results: March 3, 2003 (Round 3)
505 EXPERT (15 laps; 16 riders): 1. Bryan Smith (Rot); 2. Chris Carr (Rot); 3. Joe Kopp (KTM); 4. Kenny Coolbeth (KTM); 5. Jake Johnson (Hon); 6. Mike Hacker (Rot); 7. J.R. Schnabel (Yam); 8. Willie McCoy (Rot); 9. Gary Rogers (Rot); 10. Brett Landes (Rot); 11. Rich King (H-D); 12. Kevin Atherton (Yam); 13. Scott Scherb (Rot); 14. Rick Winsett (Rot); 15. Shawn Clark (Rot); 16. Chris Evans (Rot).
Time: 5 min., 17. 008 sec.
Margin of Victory: 1,1o7 sec.