Perfect is the only word to describe Greg “Herbie” Hancock’s weekend as his mastery of the 2005 AMA National Championship Speedway Series continued on September 3 at the Industry Hills Expo Center’s Grand Arena in Industry, California.
For the second night in a row, Hancock swept to wins in all five of his qualifying races and then answered every challenge in the featured A-Main Event to take a six-point series points lead over Billy Hamill.
Hamill, a three-time AMA National Champion, tried every trick in his extensive repertoire but fell short in his two meetings with Hancock, who is on pace to win his sixth AMA championship.
In Heat 17, Hancock came out of the starting gate with a narrow lead over Hamill. Hamill tried a daring cutback move but was unable to squeeze past Hancock. That was the only blemish on Hamill’s record in his five qualifying heats, and the longtime rivals again lined up side-by-side in the A Main event.
Joining Hancock and Hamill in the pivotal A Main were veteran Charlie Venegas and Brian Yarrow, one of the sport’s most promising young racers. Venegas’ evening ended prematurely when he jumped the start and was disqualified. Yarrow, meanwhile, could only watch a battle up front between Hancock and Hamill after coming out of the gate third.
Hancock accelerated away from the start line with a narrow advantage over Hamill, who tried an inside move in the first turn that looked promising for a moment but proved ineffective as Hancock defended his line perfectly. Hancock never set a wheel wrong the rest of the way and Hamill had to settle for second for the second night in a row.
“I tried something a little different in the main event than I did in the heat,” Hamill said, “but it still didn’t work. I have to hand it to Greg, he was really strong tonight.”
For Yarrow, his third-place finish in an exclusive 24-rider field was a welcome improvement over a disappointing 13th-place performance in Friday night’s series opener in Auburn, California.
“This sport is crazy sometimes,” Yarrow said. “Last night was just terrible, and tonight started the same way. I was last in my first heat but then things came together and I ended up in the A Main.
“One of these days I’m going to beat those guys,” Yarrow said of former world champions Hancock and Hamill. “I was hoping it would be tonight, but anytime you make the A Main is a pretty good night.”
Hancock had little time to celebrate his pair of AMA National wins over the weekend. He was due to fly to England on Sunday to begin a week including four races in three countries, including the September 10 finale of the World Grand Prix Series in Italy.
The 2005 AMA National Championship Series will conclude on Saturday, October 8, at Fast Fridays Speedway in Auburn, California. Five riders (Hancock, Hamill, Venegas, Ryan Fisher and Mike Faria) remain in the running for the title, but Hancock can shut all of his challengers out of contention by finishing third or better.