SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Aug. 31, 2008) — Fans were not treated to the normal Springfield Mile multi-bike freight train finish, but what the race lacked in quantity it more than made up for in quality. In one of the scariest finishes in the race’s long history, Kenny Coolbeth and Chris Carr collided hard coming out of the final turn on the last lap as Carr was attempting to pass for the lead. The impact nearly knocked Carr off his No. 4 Chris Carr Racing Harley-Davidson. He was somehow able to gather his bike up and cross the finish line in second, 0.177-seconds behind Coolbeth on the No. 1 factory Harley-Davidson.
Shaun Russell finished a distant third on his Bartels’ Harley-Davidson.
The race was run under perfect weather and before a packed grandstand. Coolbeth and Carr emerged as the riders to beat. The two swapped the lead numerous times in the 25-lap final.
It all came down to the final lap. Carr trailed Coolbeth, but was in a perfect position for a draft pass to the finish. As the duo came out of turn four Carr moved to the inside to make his move, but Coolbeth changed his normal line and kept turning towards the inside of the track leaving Carr nowhere to go. With a ton of momentum Carr tried to check up, but still slammed into the back of Coolbeth’s machine. Carr came out of his seat and the crowd let out a collective gasp. Luckily Carr has years of racing experience and he managed to ride out what appeared to be a certain accident.
Coolbeth admitted he took a line he hadn’t taken all race, but denied any wrongdoing in the incident.
“I took a different line, but that’s what you do on the last lap of a race like this,” Coolbeth argued. “I didn’t intentionally move over on Chris and I hope he’s not too upset. I felt the impact and it was hard. I’m just glad everything came out OK and no one went down.”
Carr was very upset with what he saw as an intentional evasive maneuver by Coolbeth.
“I never do that weave move coming out of turn four because I know somebody could get hurt,” Carr said angrily. “I had it done to me and we’re very fortunate that no one got hurt.”
The championship chase was blown wide open on Sunday. Coolbeth’s win combined with Joe Kopp suffering a broken chain on his motorcycle, puts Coolbeth 28 points in the lead over Kopp with four rounds remaining.
Racing continues at Springfield on Monday with the makeup Springfield Mile for this spring’s rainout.