The AMA Grand National Series kicks off 2005 with a new sponsor in Ford. While the series will run under a new banner Chris Carr is the one constant as he begins his mission to become a seven-time AMA Grand National Champion and first four-time winner at Daytona Beach, Florida’s Municipal Stadium on Thursday evening, March 10.
Round one of the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship gets its traditional start on the white crushed limestone surface of the Municipal Stadium Short Track. The riders will give the fans a preview of the Grand National with the Hot Shoe event on Wednesday night. The attention then turns to the national on Thursday and the one thing you can nearly always count on at Daytona is the unexpected.
Last year JR Schnabel broke through to win his first Daytona Short Track on a Yamaha. Schnabel will be one of the favorites this year, but many look to defending and six-time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr as the rider to beat.
Carr, the all-time wins leader among active riders from Fleetwood, Pa., will bring his fleet of No. 1 plate Quality Checked Certified Pre-owned Ford Racing machines to Daytona in hopes of becoming the first four-time winner of the prestigious kick-off race.
“We’ve been working hard this year as we do every year to get ready for Daytona,” Carr said minutes after getting off a practice track in South Carolina. “The team has been dialing in our KTMs to my preferences in hopes of racing those at Municipal Stadium. If they don’t work out we have the Rotax bikes to fall back on. Nothing’s really changed at Daytona. You’ve got to be ready to go as soon as practice starts and carry that on to qualifying. If you do well in qualifying it makes the rest of the evening a lot easier.”
Another rider to watch for at Daytona is Johnny Murphree on the Coziahr Harley-Davidson sponsored No. 20. The Paso Robles, Calif., native has scored podium finishes in each of the last two Grand Nationals at Municipal Stadium. “When it comes down to it, we need to beat Chris at our big races,” said Murphree of trying to wrestle away the No. 1 plate from the champ. “Daytona, Springfield – the TT, the Short Track and of course the Mile and we need to beat him in Peoria. Those are the key races.”
Joe Kopp has shown speed at Daytona, finishing runner-up twice in the last five years. He’ll ride the Latus Harley-Davidson/Jones Powersports No. 3 entry and try to break through to win his first at Daytona.
Kenny Coolbeth finished a career-matching best third in last year’s title standings. Coolbeth rides the Mid-American Harley-Davidson/Jones Powersports No. 31 and he too feels championship hopes begin and end with Carr. “He is the one to watch at every race. He doesn’t appear to have weakness in his program.”
Daytona will mark the final race for 46-year-old veteran and fan favorite Terry Poovey, of Euless, Texas. A two-time Daytona winner, Poovey is hoping to go out on a winning note riding his Pro Honda Oils-sponsored Hondas.
On Saturday, March 12, viewers will get to see taped coverage of the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship opener on SPEED Channel.
For additional information on this year’s Bike Week races contact Daytona International Speedway at (386) 253-7223 or visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.