Photo by Andrea Wilson
POMONA, Calif. (Oct. 12, 2013) -- Brad Baker is your 2013 AMA Grand National Champion, and the racer from Washington State ended the season by winning on the Pomona Half-Mile. Baker could have finished cautiously, but instead he rode like he wanted to go out on top and raced his Dodge Brothers Racing Harley-Davidson XR750 to victory in a hard-fought battle with series rival Bryan Smith. Briar Bauman took third, earning his first Grand National podium.
At 20, Baker, a former Pro Singles Champions and Flat Track Rookie of the Year, became the third youngest rider to win the prestigious championship behind Brad Andres and Jay Springsteen, who were both 19 when they won the No. 1 plate.
After winning the five points for victory in the Dash for Cash, Baker pushed his lead to the point where he basically just needed to finish in the Main to win the Grand National Championship. Most riders would have laid back and ridden a conservative race to ensure the championship, but it was obvious from the start that Baker decided to race for the win.
He led the first lap over Smith and defending champ Jared Mees. The red flag came out after two laps when Mikey Martin fell on his Triumph in turn two. Baker again led on the restart with Smith and Mees right in his draft just as it was in the original start.
Smith was taking a low line through the turns compared to a high line by Baker. Smith made the line work and took over the lead. Baker nearly stepped off on turn two where a lot of riders were having problems.
Matt Weidman went down on lap six in turn two, but was quickly up and OK. Stevie Bonsey’s bike quit with mechanical ills.
With Baker nearly pitching it, he seemed to temporarily back it off a bit and follow Smith from a safe distance. Mees and Bauman were right in the lead group as well, looking to take advantage of any mistakes by Smith or Baker.
Baker took back the lead on lap 14, but Smith and he were side by side most of the lap. The leading duo continued to swap the lead with varying lines around Pomona.
Suddenly with nine laps to Bauman got up to trade the lead with Baker and Smith. Just then another red came out on lap 16 when Sammy Halbert crashed hard into the haybales, again out of the troublesome turn two.
The race would restart with 10 laps to go.
Baker led once again with Bauman and Smith battling over second. In the final two laps Smith pushed hard on his Crosley Radio Kawasaki and moved up to challenge for the lead, but Baker threw caution to the wind and slammed the door on his rival and on the final lap he held off Smith by 0.706 seconds at the flag. Bauman came home a close third on a Rod Lake Suzuki SV1000 no less.
Mees and JD Beach rounded out the top five.
“That was probably the best race of the whole entire series right there,” said a jubilant Baker after the win. “There probably aren’t that many lead changes on the Springfield Mile sometimes. I would pass him coming out (of the turns) and he would pass me going in. We were flip flopping, having fun. I almost got off real bad between one and two one time. Briar said my legs were straight up in the air. I saved that one and thought I’d better calm down a little bit and find a different line. The last few last my brake lever fell off. Usually on a track like this you don’t need brakes, but I found out I needed them a little bit.
“My hat’s off the Bryan. He’s an awesome competitor. All year long we’ve had some amazing battles. To end this year not only with a championship, but with a win is awesome.”
JR Addison dominated the Pro Singles final on his Parkinson Bros Racing Honda. Wyatt Maguire, who finished fourth, won the Pro singles title by a single point over second-place Pomona finisher Ryan Wells. Maguire took off an air cast from his leg to race on Saturday night.
For Addison it marked his first Pro Singles victory. “I came here really wanting to win this race,” Addison said. “It definitely gives me a confidence boost going into next year. I got a great start and got out front early and had a clear track.”
AMA Grand National Results from Pomona, California
1 12 Brad Baker Harley-Davidson 25 Laps
2 42 Bryan Smith Kawasaki EX650 0.706
3 14 Briar Bauman Suzuki SV1000 1.148
4 1 Jared Mees Harley-Davidson 2.535
5 95 JD Beach Kawasaki EX650 2.562
6 2 Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. Harley-Davidson 3.349
7 5 Jake Johnson Ducati 749 4.943
8 27 Robert Pearson Harley-Davidson 6.062
9 44 Brandon Robinson Kawasaki EX650 8.874
10 10 Johnny Lewis Triumph Bonneville 9.919
11 98 Kayl Kolkman Harley-Davidson 12.094
12 23 Jeffrey Carver Jr. Harley-Davidson 14.014
13 61 Dustin Crow Harley-Davidson 14.409
14 91 Michael Martin Triumph Bonneville 22 Laps
15 20 Matt Weidman Kawasaki EX650 20 Laps
16 7 Sammy Halbert Harley-Davidson 15 Laps
17 17 Henry Wiles Harley-Davidson 7.264
18 68 Joshua Koch Harley-Davidson 11.53
19 80 Stevie Bonsey Harley-Davidson 4 Laps
Pro Singles Final from Pomona, California
1 24F J.R. Addison Honda CRF450R 16 Laps
2 94B Ryan Wells Honda CRF450R 7.236
3 77J Kyle Johnson Kawasaki KX450F 8.15
4 18M Wyatt Maguire Yamaha YZ 450F 8.467
5 30Z Bronson Bauman Honda CRF450R 8.519
6 66Y Dominic Colindres Honda CRF450R 13.431
7 25A Shayna Texter Honda CRF450R 14.016
8 74Z Rodney Spencer Jr. Honda CRF450R 14.081
9 1 Stephen Vanderkuur Honda CRF450R 15.613
10 20M Jacob Lehmann Honda CRF450R 15.638