Seeing Chris Carr atop the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship point standings is nothing unusual. What is unique is that the defending champ Carr now shares number one in the standings with young Bryan Smith, the former AMA Horizon Award winner from Flint, Mich. Carr, Smith and the rest of the nation’s top flat track riders roll in to the Darke Country Fairgrounds Half-mile this Saturday, July 22.
The AMA Grand National Twins Championship has been one of parity this season. Five different riders have won the five finals this year with Jared Mees being the latest winner, last weekend on his Lancaster Harley-Davidson/Screamin’ Eagle/Saddlemen Harley-Davidson at Virginia Motor Speedway in Saluda. Mees joins Carr, Kenny Coolbeth, Dominic Beaulac and Mike Hacker as winners of this year’s events.
One name missing on that list is Bryan Smith. While Smith is tied with Carr for first in the standings he’s yet to win on the big bikes (he scored a victory in the Grand National Singles Series at Daytona in March). Smith hopes to finally chalk up a win on a Twin this weekend in Greenville.
“It’s going to be tough on a cushion track with riders like Dominic Beaulac and Geo Roeder,” Smith explained. “I twisted my ankle halfway through the final there last year and wasn’t able to push it. I had a good race at Lima this year, which is a similar track to Greenville, so I’m definitely looking forward to it. I think I can be somewhere in the top five and hopefully if everything falls into place maybe get a win.”
Smith, who rides for Screamin’ Eagle/Moroney’s Harley-Davidson, said he’s thrilled to be tied for the lead in the series standings.
“To be tied with the champion is a good place to be,” Smith adds. “He [Carr] has been there more than anybody so to have the same number of points as him halfway through the year makes me pretty happy. It’s going to take beating him when I can and being close to him on other weekends to stay with him in the championship. It sounds easy saying it, but man he’s fast on the track.”
Greenville’s pea-gravel “cushion” half-mile is hosting an AMA Grand National for only the second time, but it’s quickly becoming a fan and rider favorite.
“It’s old school dirt track racing,” Smith says. “Wide open, sideways and throwing rocks over the fence. It’s one of those tracks where if you push it you’ll either crash or win. With where I am in the championship I can’t afford to crash so I’m going to do everything I can to keep it on two wheels.”
In addition to Carr and Smith running neck and neck for the lead in the point standings, just about anyone in the top five could come away with the series lead after Greenville. Only 11 points divide Carr and Smith from the rest of the top five, including Kenny Coolbeth, Rick King and Jared Mees. The jam atop the standings makes Greenville a very pivotal race.
Joe Kopp, the defending Greenville winner, is hoping to get back in the series hunt with a repeat of last year’s performance. Kopp, of Mica, Wash., comes into the race ranked seventh.
For ticket information call (765) 962-0596.
WHAT: Darke Country Fairgrounds Half-mile, round 10 of the AMA Ford Quality Checked Grand National Championship – round seven of the Grand National Twins Championship.
WHERE: Take I-70 to State Route 49 North. The Fairgrounds is just inside the Greenville city limits on the left hand side.
WHEN: Saturday July 22, 2006
COURSE: Darke Country Fairgrounds Half-mile pea-gravel limestone oval.
SCHEDULE: Gates open at 3 p.m.; Qualifying Practice begins at 4:30 p.m.; Opening Ceremonies at 7:00 p.m.
TICKETS: Box seats $25, general admission $20. Advance tickets can be purchased at Harley-Davidson Center in Richmond, Indiana.