After nearly a seven-month run the 2004 AMA Progressive Insurance Flat Track Championship will conclude with a doubleheader event at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds in Du Quoin, Illinois, September 24 and 25. The riders will take to the new indoor short track facility on Friday night and then move out to Du Quoin’s Magic Mile on Saturday evening.
Chris Carr is on the verge of earning his sixth AMA Grand National Championship. The veteran rider from Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, needs only to qualify for the short track race or finish 17th-place or better in the mile to take home the 2004 title.
Du Quoin has long been a premier stop on the AMA Championship calendar, and many of the elite riders of the sport have won there, dating back to the 1940s. This year’s race at Du Quoin will have special significance since it marks the final two rounds of the 50th anniversary season of AMA Grand National Series racing.
While the Grand National regulars are very familiar with Du Quoin’s Mile, this will be the first opportunity the riders will have to compete in the newly completed indoor short track facility. Du Quoin fans will have an excellent opportunity to see the nation’s top motorcycle racers aboard two completely different venues in one weekend. The short track features close quarter, handlebar banging action while the mile features high speeds and drafting. Riders will compete on nimble, single-cylinder racing machines in Friday’s short track race before switching to powerful 750-1000cc V-Twin milers on Saturday.
Carr is poised to earn his sixth AMA Grand National Championship at Du Quoin. If Carr takes the title he will become only the third rider in the 50-year history of AMA Grand National Championship racing to win the crown four consecutive years. Hall of Famers Carroll Resweber and Scott Parker are the previous riders to accomplish this remarkable feat.
“It’s humbling to have the chance to do something only two greats of our sport have accomplished,” said Carr, who was named the AMA SPEED Channel Athlete of the Year after winning last year’s title. “I’m taking nothing for granted. My goal going into Du Quoin is to qualify for the short track race. If I do that the title is clinched and anything beyond that is a bonus.”
Ironically, Du Quoin is one of the few tracks on the circuit where Carr has yet to win.
“I’ve had my chances at Du Quoin in the past, but have lost out in drafting battles,” he said. “We think we’ve found something that will help put us over the top this year. I’d love to finally get a win there.”
Carr’s six national victories this year makes him the wins leader for 2004 and marks his best performance since 2001 when he earned nine victories.
Joe Kopp is the only other rider with a shot at winning this year’s championship. The former champ from Mica, Washington, has been close all season, but fell back in the standings to Carr in the last two rounds. Now Kopp needs a monumental stroke of luck if he is to catch Carr and earn his second title.
Four former Du Quoin winners, Mike Hacker, Rich King, Kevin Atherton and Jay Springsteen are expected to compete this weekend.
On Saturday the Du Quoin Mile will also host the final round of the 2004 Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Series. Chris Hart, of Farmington, New York, clinched the championship with his win last weekend in Columbus, Ohio. Hart will go for his fifth win of the year at Du Quoin.
Du Quoin will be taped by SPEED Channel to be broadcast in November. For additional information on the doubleheader weekend contact the Illinois Motorcycle Dealer Association at 217/753-8866 or visit the website, www.illinoismda.com.