The 20-year-old New Jersey rider made history by becoming the first man to win an AMA Grand National flat track race aboard a Suzuki when he piloted his short track-framed RM-Z 450 past reigning AMA Flat Track Champion Chris Carr on lap five and sped to victory.
After two restarts – the first for Nick Cummings, who cart-wheeled violently after tagging the hay bales on the outside of the back straightaway, and the second after Johnny Murphree did the same thing on lap two of the second attempt at completion – Carr took the holeshot, followed by Mack Daddy Racing’s Henry Wiles and White’s Harley-Davidson’s John Raun Wood. Johnson was sixth off the start, but he railed under two riders in turns three and four to run fourth on the opening lap. Johnson then blasted underneath Wood for third place on lap three to take second place.
Johnson was running a lower line than Carr, and he used that shorter traveled distance to catch the fleeing Carr, the two pulling away from Wiles early.
Johnson then caught Carr on lap five, drew alongside the champ and then passed him for the lead between turns three and four to take a lead that he would not relinquish. Johnson crossed the finish line with an official margin of victory of 1.094 seconds, though it was actually closer to 3.4 seconds. Carr finished second, with Wiles third, the Michigander barely holding off hard-charging Team Suzuki Flat Track’s Kevin Varnes at the stripe. Jones Powersports KTM’s Kenny Coolbeth was fifth.
Daytona Municipal Stadium
Daytona Beach, Florida
Results: March 10, 2005 (Round 1 of 21)
GRAND NATIONAL (25 laps; 25 riders): 1. Jake Johnson (Suz); 2. Chris Carr (KTM); 3. Henry Wiles (Hon); 4. Kevin Varnes (Suz); 5. Kenny Coolbeth (KTM); 6. John Raun Wood (Rot); 7. Joe Kopp (KTM); 8. Johnny Murphree (Hon); 9. JR Schnabel (Yam); 10. Shaun Russell (Hon); 11. Bryan Smith (Hon); 12. Bryan Bigelow (Hon); 13. Greg Tysor (Rot); 14. Mike Hacker (Hon); 15. Dan Gedeon (Hon); 16. Nicky Cummings (Hon).
Time: 8 min., 25.659 sec.
Margin of victory: 1.094 sec.
AMA FORD QUALITY CHECKED FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES POINTS STANDINGS (After 1 of 21 rounds): 1. Jake Johnson (23/1 win); 2. Chris Carr (19); 3. Henry Wiles (16); 4. Kevin Varnes (15); 5. Kenny Coolbeth (14); 6. John Raun Wood (13); 7. Joe Kopp (12); 8. Johnny Murphree (11); 9. JR Schnabel (10); 10. Shaun Russell (9); 11. Bryan Smith (8); 12. Bryan Bigelow (7); 13. Greg Tysor (6); 14. Mike Hacker (5); 15. Dan Gedeon (4); 16. Nicky Cummings (3).