Carr Up To Par at Joliet Half Mile

| May 21, 2005
Reigning AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Champion Chris Carr restored balance to his own universe at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, by winning the round two of the 2005 AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Series, the Joliet Half Mile, tonight. It was career win number 69 for Carr, and he did it in dominating fashion.

Carr came off the second starting spot from the inside pole to run fourth into the first turn, behind Moroney’s Harley-Davidson & Honda’s Bryan Smith, KTM/Mid-America Harley-Davidson’s Kenny Coolbeth and Latus Harley-Davidson/Jones Powersports’ Joe Kopp. Using an established line midway up the fast, round, well-groomed Joliet clay track, he picked off Kopp for third place and then passed Coolbeth on lap six to set after Smith, who had gotten off to flyer of a start and was attempting to break away. Carr tucked in behind Smith on lap nine, attempting a high-low move for the lead, to no avail.

But on lap 11 Carr was able to get a better drive than Smith off of turn two, and he blitzed past Smith on the inside down the back straightaway to take the lead well before the pair backed it into turn three. From there, Carr methodically clicked off laps, pulling out to a lead of better than half a straightaway on his Kenny Tolbert-tuned, Ford Quality Checked Certified Pre-owned Racing entry.

“We’ve been here three or four or five times – I forget – but this is by far the best racetrack we’ve ever had here,” Carr said. “It was certainly the most passing we’ve ever had at this facility. I think they [the promoters] did a great job, and we had a pretty good crowd tonight. It wasn’t a great crowd, but for as snakebitten as this track has been the last couple years that we’ve been coming here – every time we come here it seems to rain – I was glad we got a show in tonight. It seems that there are a lot of roots here in the Chicago area from the old Santa Fe [Speedway] days. A lot of those people were here tonight, so hopefully this race will encourage them to continue to come back out.”

The win allowed Carr to take over the series points lead from Daytona winner Jake Johnson, who finished ninth on a night that saw both Johnson and his Team Suzuki Flat Track teammate, Kevin Varnes, make the main event convincingly; Varnes finished 10th. Carr now leads Johnson, 42-33. Coolbeth, who wound up fourth after sitting on the pole for the main event, is third in the points, with 29.

Perhaps even more encouraging for flat track fans were the performances of two of the sport’s budding talents, Honda/Pro Lubes/Sunoco’s Nick Cummings and Smith, who finished second and third in the main event. Cummings came from fifth off the start and ran around the bottom of the wide Joliet track to work his way past veterans Kopp and Coolbeth late in the 25-lap main event, the trio along with Smith making a great race for runner-up honors. Cummings and Smith then battled side by side for second place until Cummings was able to put Smith away when Smith drifted a little too high in turn two on lap 22. Smith dogged Cummings the rest of the way but finished third. The race marked Cummings’ first career GNC podium finish and Smith’s first GNC podium finish in the GNC Twins class.

Kopp was fifth, followed by Jared Mees, Chris Hart and Willie McCoy. Notable non-qualifiers at Joliet included Johnny Murphree and J.R. Schnabel, who both failed to transfer out of the third semi.

Route 66 Raceway
Joliet, Illinois
Results: May 21, 2005 (Round 2 of 17)
GRAND NATIONAL (25 laps; 18 riders): 1. Chris Carr (H-D); 2. Nick Cummings (H-D); 3. Bryan Smith (H-D); 4. Kenny Coolbeth (H-D); 5. Joe Kopp (H-D); 6. Jared Mees (H-D); 7. Chris Hart (H-D); 8. Willie McCoy (H-D); 9. Jake Johnson (Suz); 10. Kevin Varnes (Suz); 11. Bryan Bigelow (H-D); 12. Geo Roeder II (H-D); 13. Rich King (H-D); 14. Charlie Italia (H-D); 15. Kevin Atherton (H-D); 16. Shaun Russell (H-D); 17. John Raun Wood (H-D); 18. Dan Gedeon (H-D).
Time: 15 min., 11.280 sec.
Margin of victory: N/A.
AMA FORD QUALITY CHECKED FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES STANDINGS (After 2 of 17 rounds): 1. Chris Carr (42/1 win); 2. Jake Johnson (33/1 win); 3. Kenny Coolbeth (29); 4. Joe Kopp (26); 5. Bryan Smith (24)/Kevin Varnes (24); 7. Nick Cummings (22); 8. Henry Wiles (16); 9. (TIE) John Raun Wood (15)/Bryan Bigelow (15); 11. Jared Mees (13); 12. (TIE) Chris Hart (12)/Shaun Russell (12); 14. (TIE) Willie McCoy (11)/Johnny Murphree (11); 16. J.R. Schnabel (10); 17. Geo Roeder II (7); 18. (TIE) Rich King (6)/Greg Tysor (6); 20. (TIE) Charlie Italia (5)/Mike Hacker (5)/Dan Gedeon (5).
Upcoming Rounds:
Round 3 – Springfield, Illinois, May 28
Round 4 – Springfield, Illinois, May 29

By Scott Rousseau