The win pulled Coolbeth, the defending series champ, to within eight points of GNC Singles leader Jake Johnson, who finished third on his factory Suzuki after winning the pole. American Honda’s Jared Mees was the runner up in Billings, 2.432-seconds behind Coolbeth.
Coolbeth worked his way past Johnson on lap six of the 25-lap national when Johnson’s bike began to misfire. Coolbeth survived a near crash late in the race to score the victory.
“I about went over the handlebars going into three with about five laps to go,” Coolbeth said. “I told myself to calm down and keep focused and that’s what I did. I felt confident tonight. Bettencourt Honda put a great bike underneath me and that made things a lot easier for me. Hopefully we can keep chipping away at Jake’s lead in the Singles Championship.”
The debut event at Billings was unique in that the 450cc single-cylinder machines ran on a half-mile track. That had happen only once before in Grand National history. Two Australians – Michael Kirkness and Luke Gough – qualified for the main, a first in the flat track series.
The event was lightly attended with an estimated 2500 fans fairly rattling in the massive 7000-seat grandstand.
The Grand National riders get a well-deserved week off before the next national at the historic Peoria TT on Aug. 17.