SPRINGFIELD, IL., SEPT. 3 – He faced a stiff challenge, but like clockwork it was Henry Wiles eventually breaking into the lead on his Monster Energy/Jones Brothers Kawasaki and pulling away to yet another victory in the Springfield Short Track National. It marked the fifth straight Springfield Short Track win for Wiles, who now has three wins this season, in spite of missing most of the year recovering from knee surgery.
Finishing second to Wiles was defending AMA Grand National Champion Jake Johnson. Johnson rode a smart and steady race, to nail down the runner-up spot. That finish, combined with a second in the Dash for Cash, moved Johnson squarely into the championship picture. He’s now just 10 points out of the series lead, owned by Sammy Halbert, and two points behind Jared Mees.
It was a breakthrough night for rookie Jeffrey Carver, Jr. Last year’s Pro Singles champ had a stellar outing at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Multi-Purpose Arena, winning his first heat race, scoring victory in the Dash and then leading the first half of the main before succumbing to veterans Wiles and Johnson.
Sammy Halbert scored fifth and that was good enough for the Graham, Washington rider to earn the AMA Grand National Singles Championship. He also continues to lead the overall Grand National point standings, 282-274, over Mees.
The National was plagued with crashes, having to be restarted three times. Once underway it was Carver, who hails from nearby Alton, Illinois, moving out to an early lead. The rookie was feeling the pressure right from the beginning from Wiles and Johnson. He held steady for 13 laps of the 25-lap final, but then he hit a hole coming out of two, went high enerting turn three and both Wiles and Johnson dove underneath and got past.
The leading trio raced close for several more laps, but gradually Wiles stretched his lead to 1.850 seconds over Johnson at the checkered flag. Carver held on to third. It marked his first his first Grand National podium.
To hear Wiles tell it, he never felt in danger of losing his Springfield Short Track winning streak to the hot rookie.
“I could tell he was starting to make mistakes as the race went on,” Wiles said of Carver. “I was experimenting around trying different lines, but I felt like I was faster than Carver. The closest call I had was when I nailed a lapped rider [Brandon Robinson] late in the race when he suddenly changed lines in the middle of a turn.”
Briar Bauman won the Pro Singles final going away on his Rod Lake Racing Honda. It was vindication of sorts for Bauman, who won at the Peoria TT a couple of weeks ago, only to be disqualified for illegal fuel. William Cato finished second and Gerit Callies third.
Michael Martin, who was sixth, still leads the Pro Singles standings by four points over Callies.
The racing continues at Springfield Sunday as the action moves next door to the Springfield Mile.
Springfield Short Track National Results
1. Henry Wiles Kawasaki KX450F 25 Laps
2. Jake Johnson Honda CRF450R 1.849 secs.
3. Jeffrey Carver Jr. Yamaha YZ 450F 2.217
4. Brad Baker Honda CRF450R 3.277
5. Sammy Halbert Yamaha YZ 450F 5.658
6. Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. Kawasaki KX450F 6.282
7. Chris Carr Honda CRF450R 6.544
8. Robert Pearson Yamaha YZ 450F 6.973
9. Matt Weidman Honda CRF450R 8.398
10. Jared Mees Honda CRF450R 9.312
11. Chad Cose Honda CRF450R 10.001
12. Kayl Kolkman Kawasaki KX450F 10.649
13. Justin Hittle Honda CRF450R 11.817
14. Brandon Robinson Honda CRF450R 24 Laps
15. Shaun Russell Kawasaki KX450F 2.199
16. Brock Schwarzenbacher Honda CRF450R 7.436
17. Mikey Rush Honda CRF450R 4 Laps
18. Bryan Smith Honda CRF450R 0.335
Pro Singles Final
1. Briar Bauman., Honda.
2. William Cato, Honda.
3. Gerit Callies, Honda.
4. Jason Isennock, Honda.
5. Michael Avila, Honda.