Photography by Larry Lawrence
SPRINGFIELD, IL (Aug. 31, 2014) – Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. called on his years of AMA Grand National racing experience to make a picture-perfect move through the last two turns on the final lap of the Springfield Mile. His around- the-outside pass on Bryan Smith shot Coolbeth out of the final turn with a rocket-like drive. Smith and Jared Mees meanwhile, each had small issues. Smith spun up the rear tire on his Kawasaki, while Mees picked a bad exit line and got squeezed. That gave Coolbeth just enough of a margin to put his Zanotti Racing. Moroney’s Harley-Davidson XR750 across the finish line just 0.010 seconds (or about a half a wheel length) ahead of Smith. Mees was right there in third in a typically close Springfield Mile finish.
With two Harley-Davidson XR750 finishing on the podium, it might, at least temporarily, tamp down the current train of thought that Harley’s are no longer competitive against the Kawasakis on AMA Pro Grand National miles.
The victory was a boost to Coolbeth’s season, but probably isn’t enough to get him back in the championship chase. He’s in fourth, 53 points out of the lead. The title now seems to be coming down to either Smith or Mees, with Jake Johnson (who finished sixth today) a long shot. Smith gained three points on Mees this weekend and now holds a nine-point lead (247-238)with just two California rounds (Calistoga and Pomona) remaining.
“It worked out just like I planned it,” Coolbeth said of his win, the fourth the season. “My strategy was to go around the outside and see if I could get a strong enough drive to hold Bryan off to the line. I took a quick peek behind me coming out of four and was surprised I had that big of a lead. It turned out I needed it because Bryan and Jared were coming fast and just about caught me at the end.”
Jake Shoemaker continued his strong string of finishes, taking fourth, now riding with USC Kawasaki. TT specialist Henry Wiles scored a solid finish in fifth. Johnson’s championship hopes took a hit when he suffered a rare non-podium result in sixth.
Jarod Vanderkooi took a commanding win in the Pro Twins support race on the Johnny Vintage Motorcycle Kawasaki. Vanderkooi was 2.257 seconds ahead of Harley-mounted Molly Terry at the line. Dalton Winkler, on a Kawasaki, took third. Terry is the latest female rider rising in the ranks and showing promising speed, following in the recent footsteps of Nichole Mees and Shayna Texter.
AMA Pro Grand National results from the Springfield Mile – Aug. 31, 2014
1. Kenny Coolbeth, Jr., Harley-Davidson.
2. Bryan Smith, Kawasaki.
3. Jared Mees, Harley-Davidson.
4. Jake Shoemaker, Kawasaki.
5. Henry Wiles, Kawasaki.
6. Jake Johnson, Kawasaki.
7. Willie McCoy, Harley-Davidson.
8. Stevie Bonsey, Harley-Davidson.
9. Brad Baker, Harley-Davidson.
10. Brandon Robinson, Kawasaki.
1. Jaron Vanderkooi, Kawasaki.
2. Molly Terry, Harley-Davidson.
3. Dalton Winkler, Kawasaki.
4. Jamison Minor, Kawasaki.
5. Jeffery Lowery, Kawasaki.