KTM/Jones Powersports’ Joe Kopp grabbed the early lead in the 25-lap, 18-rider main event, followed by Murphree, Carr, KTM/Jones Powersports’ Kenny Coolbeth, Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson’s Rich King and Bartels’ Harley-Davidson’s Jay Springsteen. Murphree would slip past Kopp before the halfway flags, with the front four putting a gap on a great battle for fifth, between King and Springsteen, just after the halfway mark.
Late in the race, the front four continued to run in tight formation, with a mistake by any spelling a potentially huge advantage for the others. Coolbeth would slip off the pace a little before the five-lap sign was shown to the field, apparently leaving Murphree, Kopp and Carr to battle for the podium spots.
Carr then fought his way past Kopp and was in perfect position to capitalize when Murphree slipped off the groove and handed Carr the lead just before the white flag, Murphree dropping all the way back to fourth, behind Coolbeth.
Kopp tried to slide underneath Carr and steal the win, but Carr held on, with Kopp second, Coolbeth third and Murphree fourth. Bryan Smith finished fifth, followed by Springsteen, while Jake Johnson got past King for seventh. King was eighth, finishing ahead of Shaun Russell and Chris Hart, the latter two rounding out the top 10.
With the win, Carr now holds a 44-point advantage over Kopp in the series standings, 278-234. With two rounds remaining, Carr needs only to finish 17th or better in one of the two main events or 18th in both to defend the championship if Kopp should happen to win both mains. Such unlikely scenarios would tie the two on points, with Carr retaining the number one plate by virtue of more Grand National wins on the year.
Results: September 19, 2004 (Round 15)
GRAND NATIONAL (25 laps; 18 riders): 1. Chris Carr (H-D); 2. Joe Kopp (H-D); 3. Kenny Coolbeth (H-D); 4. Johnny Murphree (H-D); 5. Bryan Smith (H-D); 6. Jay Springsteen (H-D); 7. Jake Johnson (H-D); 8. Rich King (H-D); 9. Chris Hart (H-D); 10. Shaun Russell (H-D); 1. J.R. Schnabel (H-D); 12. Jared Mees (H-D); 13. Paul Lynch (H-D); 14. Geo Roeder II (H-D); 15. Cory McDermitt (H-D); 16. Rob Pearson (H-D); 17. Jess Roeder (H-D); 18. Mike Hacker (H-D).
Time: 11 min., 28.108 sec.
AMA PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE U.S. FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS SERIES STANDINGS (After 15 of 17 rounds): 1. Chris Carr (278/6 wins); 2. Joe Kopp (234/2 wins); 3. Kenny Coolbeth (205/1 win); 4. Johnny Murphree (198/1 win); 5. Jake Johnson (140); 6. J.R. Schnabel (135/3 wins); 7. Mike Hacker (121); 8. Willie McCoy (119); 9. (TIE) Jared Mees (104)/Shaun Russell (104); 11. Rob Pearson (87); 12. Geo Roeder II (83)/Bryan Smuth (83); 14. Rich King (72/1 win); 15. Bryan Bigelow (70); 16. Jay Springsteen (66); 17. Kevin Atherton (54); 18. Terry Poovey (53); 19. Chris Hart (50); 20. Henry Wiles (49/1 win).
Round 16 – Du Quoin, Illinois, September 24
Round 17 – Du Quoin, Illinois, September 25