Bryan Smith finds himself leading the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship for the first time in his career as the championship gets back underway for the crucial Memorial Day Weekend doubleheader at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill., on May 27-28.
The weekend will feature a round of the AMA Grand National Singles Championship Saturday at the Springfield TT Stadium as well as the opening round of the Grand National Twins Championship on Sunday at the Springfield Mile.
Smith, 22, from Flint, Mich., won the season opener on his Moroney’s Honda then scored eighth in the second round of the Daytona doubleheader and as a result holds a one-point lead early in the AMA GNC Singles Championship over Jake Johnson and Sam Halbert. Smith, the 2001 AMA Flat Track Rookie of the Year, is happy to be leading the championship for the first time in his career.
“It’s feels good to be leading,” Smith said. “I trained really hard during the off season and it’s paying off. Obviously I’d feel better if I was leading at the end of the season instead at the very beginning, but I’ll take it.”
Like most of the riders in the championship Smith is anxious to get back on track after a two-month layoff.
“It’s not easy on us to have such a long break between nationals,” Smith explained. “You just try to stay focused by training and riding a lot. I’ve been training with motocross and trail riding. I’ve also been doing a lot of TT practice. I’ve struggled at the Springfield TT over the years and I want to turn that around. As for the Mile, I had a great bike at Du Quoin last year and we’re not changing a thing. I’m really excited about getting on the Mile on Sunday.”
Smith, along with the rest of the field, is trying to hold off Chris Carr, the defending and seven-time AMA Grand National Champion. Carr is a three-time winner of the Memorial Day weekend Springfield Mile, but he is still seeking his first victory on the TT course.
In theory Smith thinks the key to defeating Carr for the title is simple. “You’ve got to keep beating him,” Smith laughs. “Chris obviously is the most consistent rider in the series. To have any chance of beating him you’re not only going to have to be as consistent as he is, but realistically you’re going to have to have a lot of luck on your side.”
Wisconsin’s JR Schnabel is the rider to beat this weekend on the TT course. He has won the last two years on his Memphis Shades Yamahas. On the Mile it’s been Iowan Rich King coming out on top on his Harley-Davidson in the last three Memorial Day races.
For ticket info call 1-888-468-1622 or visit the website www.illinoismda.com.
WHAT: The Annual Memorial Day Weekend Springfield (Ill.) AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship doubleheader, round three of the AMA Grand National Singles and the opening round of AMA Grand National Twins Championship.
WHERE: Illinois State Fairgrounds, located 2 miles west from Interstate I-55, Sangamon Ave exit (exit 100 B)
WHEN: May 27-28, 2006
COURSES: Springfield TT course and Springfield Mile.
2005 WINNERS: Springfield TT: JR Schnabel (Yamaha). Springfield Mile: Rich King (Harley-Davidson).
SCHEDULE: Saturday — TT practice, 2:30-4:30 pm; Opening ceremonies, 7:00 pm; Main event, 9:20 pm. Sunday — Mile practice, 10:30 am -12:00 pm; Opening ceremonies, 1:00 pm; Main event, 3:20 pm.
TICKETS: Saturday TT: Advance Adult, $25, Child, $5, Day of race $30. — Sunday Mile: Advance Adult bleacher, $20. Reserve seat, $25. Child, $5. Day of race, $30.