Fasthog.com/American Harley-Davidson’s Bryan Smith beat legend Chris Carr by just .042 of a second last night as the AMA Grand National Championship returned to the legendary Sacramento Mile with a thrilling race held in front of a packed house of some 9000 spectators.
“Nobody is more surprised than me,” said Smith after running down early leaders Carr and Jake Johnson. “I thought Chris was just playing with me – it seemed like he could pass me any time he wanted to. He has that ‘Tolbert Horsepower,’ you know.”
Carr led the 18-rider field into turn one, but had fallen back to third by the end of the lap, trailing defending Grand National Champion Johnson and reigning points leader Sammy Halbert. By lap two, Carr was back at the front – looking to repeat the ’99 Sacramento victory he’d earned when the series last visited the venue – and had Johnson in his hip pocket. Harley-Davidson Motor Company’s Kenny Coolbeth slipped into a short-lived third place, but with the two leaders pulling away, Smith took over third and set out after them.
Carr and Johnson continued to swap the lead all around the track, but by lap 16, Smith had caught the leaders and split them. From there it was a battle to the finish, all while Carr craftily managed to rack up laps-led honors by frequently leading the trio across the line. It didn’t look like Carr would be satisfied with the point for most laps led, however – it looked like he had a plan.
“I thought I could draft him at the line,” said Carr, “but I spun up off [turn] four and that was the end. Throughout my career,” Carr added, “I’ve said second sucks – and I haven’t changed my mind.”
Johnson filled out the podium, just .139 of a second behind runner-up Carr, while last round’s winner, Roger Lake Racing/Blue Springs Harley-Davidson’s Jared Mees, recovered from a second-row start to finish fourth over Halbert. Lloyd Brothers Motorsports’ Brad Baker came out on top of a very tight race for sixth, bringing his Ducati in ahead of Coolbeth and Jeff Carver (Eddie Adkins Racing/Van’s Yamaha), while Luke Gough (Digger 57/Dick Ford) and Willie McCoy (Harley-Davidson of Wausau) rounded out the top 10.
The results added a single point to Halbert’s overall lead, but both Mees and Johnson now trail by only four points as the series looks toward Halbert’s “hometown” track in Castle Rock, Washington.