Halbert Wins Dramatic Lima Grand National

Larry Lawrence | June 30, 2012

LIMA, OHIO, JUNE 30 –  Sammy Halbert survived a breathtaking final lap to win the 2012 edition of the Lima National. Halbert and rival Henry Wiles collided going into turn three for the final time, Halbert saying it was one of the scariest moments of his racing career. Somehow he gathered it back up and in an instant was back on the throttle of his South East Harley-Davidson XR750, dove underneath Wiles’ Foremost Insurance Ducati in turn four and emerged the victor by a scant .220 of a second.

“I honestly don’t know what kept me from going down on the back straight just before turn three,” Halbert said after the controversial run-in with Wiles. “Henry basically turned right in front of me and took out my front wheel. Somehow I put my foot down at what, a 100 miles per hour? I was pretty disappointed with the move, but fortunately I was able to get it back together and had a good line in turn four that allowed me to win.”

It marked his second straight win at Lima.

For his part Wiles claims he didn’t vary his line on that all-important last lap.

“My line was always high in three and I was heading up there,” Wiles claimed. “I thought he was trying to come down on me or something. I mean who is the rider always getting into it with other riders? Not me. I ride clean and I think we know how Halbert rides at times so I’ll let everyone decide for themselves.”

Halbert had built a big lead before a red flag stopped the race with three laps to go. The race was completed with a five-lap restart.

Defending series champ Jake Johnson earned his first podium at Lima, finishing third on the Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson. “This track has always been tough for me, so to be able to get on the podium is sort of a moral victory,” Johnson said.

Johnson also continued to chip away at series leader Jared Mees’ points lead in the championship, but not by much. Mees rallied on his Rogers Racing/Blue Springs Harley-Davidson XR750, after struggling much of the day to score a solid fourth. He now leads Johnson by 11 points.

Johnny Lewis, who led the early laps, finished fifth, just a few 10ths of a second behind Mees.

Mees leads the series, 93-82, over Johnson. Lewis is a close third with 81 points.

Factory Harley-Davidson rider Kenny Coolbeth Jr. dropped out after hitting a flexible inside track marker and wrenching his leg. Brad Baker ran with the leaders early, but had a swingarm bolt break on his machine.

Zakk Palmer took a second straight Lima Pro Singles victory on his Western Hills Honda CRF450R. He crossed the finish line a comfortable 1.8 seconds ahead of Benjamin Myers. Jacob Constantine finished third. All three were Honda mounted.

“I was able to control the race from the front,” Palmer said. “Track conditions were pretty rough tonight so it was definitely an advantage to be out ahead of the pack.”

Gerit Callies finished 12th, but still leads the Pro Singles standings with 55 points over Ryan Well with 53. Wells took fourth.

The series moves to Hagerstown on July 7.

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.