SPRINGFIELD, IL, May 30 – Jake Johnson couldn’t have asked for a better day on the Springfield Mile. In front of a near capacity crowd, on a muggy sun-drenched day, the Franklinville, New Jersey rider was the fastest in qualifying, won the fastest heat race, took the Dash for Cash, started from the pole and led all 25 laps of the May Mile aboard his Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson en route to earning his second AMA Pro K&N GNC presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com Series victory of the season.
Bryan Smith turned in a surprising run to second aboard the ultra-fast Werner-built Kawasaki/Monster Energy Ninja 650-based Kawasaki, 2.055 seconds behind Johnson. Factory Harley-Davidson rider Kenny Coolbeth Jr. was third.
The victory moved Johnson into a tie with Joe Kopp in the Grand National standings, each with 98 points after five rounds. Coolbeth is third, 16 points behind the co-leaders.
“The day was almost scary it was so perfect,” said a smiling Johnson after the win, his second straight on the historic Springfield Mile. “I kept thinking my luck couldn’t hold out, but I was able to make good adjustments in the final as the track changed and hold my lead to the flag. They say when things are working it’s almost easy and that’s the way my day went. I hope I can keep this momentum going.”
Smith chased down the fast-starting Johnson at mid-race. It looked for a few laps like it would be a two-rider battle for the win, but Smith said the drying track doomed his day.
“We had a great set up for the track early in the race,” said Smith, who gave Kawasaki its best GNC Twins dirt track finish. “As the track started drying out I started searching for different lines and just couldn’t make anything work as well as I had earlier in the race.”
Smith had to use every ounce of skill he had to hold onto second. A four-rider battle for third caught Smith and nearly devoured him on the final lap. Smith edged Coolbeth, who in turn was just inches ahead of defending champ Jared Mees. Joe Kopp and outstanding Grand National first timer PJ Jacobsen were the other riders in that second-place pack and finished in that order.
Price Truck Line Honda’s Michael Toon and James Rispoli battled to a very close first and second in the Pro Singles class, just as they had a year before. Michael LaBelle was third in what was an amazingly tight race. The top 11 riders were covered by just 7-10ths of a second.
Jeff Carver was fourth and that was good enough for him to hold onto his Pro Singles Series points lead by 14 points over defending champ Brad Baker. Baker was sixth today.
The series now moves to Gas City I-69 Speedway in Gas City, Indiana, next Saturday, June 5.