If ever there was a Mile specialist in the AMA Grand National Championship it would have to Bryan Smith. Nine of Smith’s 12 Grand National wins have come on miles and one of the tracks Smith seems to particularly like is the Springfield Mile. Following the long two-month-plus break after Daytona, the Grand National Series is getting back underway at Springfield this Sunday (May 25) and Smith is expected to be one of the favorites.
Smith is on a new Kawasaki this season, but the speed advantage he had over the Harley-Davidson XR750 riders last year may evaporate since AMA Pro Racing dropped the restrictor-plate rule and now the Harley’s, with more gas and air entering the combustion chamber, have the potential for a little more horsepower and in theory it could put them on equal footing with the Kawasaki in terms of top speed.
We talked to Smith about his new ride, the news rules and what effect he thinks these changes may have on the upcoming season, especially on the big tracks like Springfield.
What about the Harley-Davidsons being allowed to run without restrictors this season?
The Harleys had to run restrictors well before the Kawasakis got involved in the series. Now the Kawasakis have gotten involved and they’ve taken the restrictors out, as well as the 1200s that were restricted, so now it’s basically unrestricted everything. It doesn’t make total sense to me, but that’s what it is. I’m racing Kawasaki again this year when I could have raced any brand. I think the Kawasaki is still going to be the best bike on the miles and that’s where I’m the strongest, so I figured I’d better keep that combination together.
Will the Harleys be stronger on the miles this season without restrictors?
There will be a couple of them that might be a little stronger and will make my job a little harder, but I think the Kawi will still have its advantages on the big tracks. The one thing I think a lot of guys haven’t taken into consideration, and that kind of worries me, is that the Harley’s are such fragile engines, you know, they’re antiques – everybody knows that. And now they’re adding about an average of five horsepower to these already weak parts; I just hope they can hold together. There might be some of the Harleys that are faster than the Kawi for the first 10 laps, but then they can’t make it the last 15 (laps) of the main. It will be an interesting season for sure with everything unrestricted and the already stressed Harleys getting even more stressed and the Kawis getting even more developed. It’s going to be really interesting at Springfield.
To read more of Bryan Smith’s Interview in this week’s Cycle News, click here