DU QUOIN, IL (April 16, 2011) — Kenny Coolbeth came out swinging Saturday afternoon in timed qualifying for round three of the AMA Grand National Championship. Coolbeth turned a lap at 11.037 seconds on his Chaplin Kawasaki inside the Southern Illinois Center. Coolbeth topped a tightly knit group of riders. The top-20 was separated by just 2-10ths of a second.
“I didn’t even know I was fastest, but that’s good,” said Coolbeth, a three-time AMA Grand National Champion. “You need to be near the front in qualifying to have a chance to do well here. I’ve been riding quite a bit at home so I’ve been staying focused and I feel good. I’m looking forward to it.”
Coolbeth edged out defending series champ Jake Johnson, who turned an 11.050 on his Zanotti Racing Honda. “You look how close everyone is here, it’s definitely tough,” Johnson said. “I can’t believe how fast this track is. You’re just going to have to pin it in the race. You have no time to prepare for anything. You just have to wing it.”
Johnny Lewis was third clocking an 11.055 on his Scott Powersports Honda. Henry Wiles (11.073 seconds), the dominant Singles rider over the last few years, and Sammy Halbert (11.097 seconds), who won both Daytona Short Track nationals and leads the series, rounded out the top-five qualifiers.
“You have to be hyped up and drink a couple of Red Bulls before you go out there,” Coolbeth said of his qualifying prep. “Your first lap to your last lap you have to just charge. The track is changing. It’s going to polish off and get a little slicker, but I think we’re ready for it.”
One minor surprise was the qualifying performance of JD Beach. Beach, who practices and races regularly at this track, only managed to qualify 15th at an 11.215. He is riding a new, largely untested motorcycle.
“I was a little surprised to see JD wasn’t among the top guys,” Coolbeth said. “It’s not over. The times are so close it’s all about getting a good start and staying out of trouble.”
Timed Qualifying for the AMA Grand National Short Track at Du Quoin, Ill.
1. Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. Kawasaki KX450F 11.037
2. Jake Johnson Honda CRF450R 11.050
3. Johnny Lewis Honda CRF450R 11.055
4. Henry Wiles Kawasaki KX450F 11.073
5. Sammy Halbert Yamaha YZ 450F 11.097
6. Chad Cose Honda CRF450R 11.125
7. Jimmy Wood Honda CRF450R 11.128
8. E Kayl Kolkman Kawasaki KX450F 11.134
9. Brandon Robinson Honda CRF450R 11.140
10. Jared Mees Honda CRF450R 11.143
11. Chris Carr Honda CRF450R 11.148
12. Brad Baker Honda CRF450R 11.166
13. Robert Pearson Yamaha YZ 450F 11.171
14. Justin Hittle Honda CRF450R 11.185
15. JD Beach Kawasaki KX450F 11.215
16. Jesse Janisch Honda CRF450R 11.221
17. Aaron King Honda CRF450R 11.224
18. Donald Mullen II Honda CRF450R 11.239
19. John Wood Honda CRF450R 11.246
20. Michael Kirkness Suzuki RMZ 450 11.247