Johnson Holds On At Hagerstown Grand National

Larry Lawrence | July 25, 2009

Jake Johnson hadn’t tasted victory on a Grand National Twins bike since 2003. The six-year wait made it that much sweeter for the Franklinville, New Jersey, rider, as Johnson rode his SuperTrapp/F&S/Saddlemen Harley-Davidson to victory Saturday night in the rain-shortened AMA Grand National on the Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway Half-Mile.

Johnson passed early leader Sammy Halbert on lap 11 of the scheduled for 25-laps main and immediately began pulling out a gap on the battle for second between Halbert and defending champ Kenny Coolbeth. Rain began falling during the latter stages of the race and eventually it came down hard enough for AMA Pro Racing officials to throw the red and checkered flag simultaneously on lap 16.

The scoring was backed up one lap making the race a 15-lap affair. But that made no difference to Johnson, who was a solid 1.622-seconds ahead of Halbert, who in spite of totally faded brakes, was able to hold off factory Harley-Davidson’s Coolbeth to take second on the Halbert Family/King Kustoms/Glassman Harley-Davidson.

Jared Mees (Blue Springs/Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson) and Matt Weidman (Matt’s Racing/Silkolene/Shoei/Moose Racing Harley-Davidson) rounded out the top five.

“It feels great to finally get back on top of the podium,” said Johnson, who moved from ninth to fifth in the series standings with the victory. “I was concentrating so hard that I didn’t even notice it was raining until they threw the red and checkered flag together. At first I thought maybe there was a big pileup and then I lifted my visor and felt the rain. It was the right decision to call the race. It was getting pretty sketchy out there.”

Jared Mees holds the Grand National Twins lead despite having what he called an “off night”. He has 77 points to Sammy Halbert’s 69. Kenny Coolbeth is a close third with 67 points.

Brad Baker, from Chehalis, Wash., extended his points lead in the AMA Pro Singles Series, winning a series-leading third race at Hagerstown on his JG Photowerx/Celorie Brothers Trucking Honda. Baker conquered the slick clay half-mile track and held off a major challenge by New York’s James Rispoli and Canadian Michael LaBelle.

The series now moves to Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, South Dakota for special mid-week race on Tuesday, Aug. 4, during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Larry Lawrence | Archives Editor

In addition to writing our Archives section on a weekly basis, Lawrence is another who is capable of covering any event we throw his way.