File photo by Larry Lawrence
It’s been a long time coming. Brad Baker has been so close so many times in three years of AMA Grand National racing, Saturday night He finally broke through to score his first AMA Grand National victory. Baker left no question about this race. He led from start to finish on his Dodge Brothers Racing Harley-Davidson XR750 and pulled away to a dominating 6.778 second victory. Maybe even more surprising than Baker scoring his inaugural national win, was the fact that rookie Jake Shoemaker finished second, earning his first career national podium aboard a Kawasaki. Bryan Smith took third on the Crosley Radio/Howerton Motorsports Kawasaki.
The complexion of the championship took a major turn. Brandon Robinson, who led the standings coming into Hagerstown, suffered a crash in turn four on his TJ Burnett/USC Kawasaki EX650 about halfway through the main. Robinson was able to pick the bike up and limp home to the finish, but he only mustered a 17th-place result and lost the series lead to Baker.
Baker leads the championship now by 20 points (77-57) over Robinson, Henry Wiles and Jake Johnson, who are in a three-way tie for second.
Baker, who had been perfect on the night, winning his Heat race and the Dash for Cash simply had the Hagerstown Half-Mile dialed. It was bad news then for the rest of the competitors when in the final Baker got a perfect start and quickly began to gap the field. By lap six he already had a two-second lead and by lap ten it was up to 3.5 seconds. It was clear no one would beat Baker on this night if he could manage to bring it home to the checkered flag.
It was a similar story for Shoemaker in second. He fell off the pace of Baker early, but Shoemaker was clearly the best of the rest. He ran home to a surprising second in his first AMA Grand National appearance this year.
“Oh man this feels amazing,” Baker said of his first Grand National win. “I haven’t been in the game very long as far as an expert goes – three years – but it just feels like it’s taken forever to get to this point. I’ve been so close and this time I was a little far away, if you get me.
“This was the most comfortable I’ve been on a bike in a long time when it comes to a clay Half-Mile. It was a lot of fun. Everybody’s been asking me ‘Brad, when are you going to get your first win? Is it going to be this weekend?’ And man I finally got it out of the way. So it feels great.”
Runner up Shomaker’s goals just got higher and higher as the day progressed.
“I started by coming here and wanting to make the main event, like I did last year,” Shoemaker said. “Then I made the main and made the Dash and I thought top ten would be good, top five would be sweet and a podium would be amazing. Here I am on the podium so no complaints there. It was awesome sitting there in second the whole race, but it was also the most boring race because I rode by myself for 25 laps.”
Doug Lawrence scored his best result, taking fourth, this after winning his first Grand National Heat race earlier in the night. Sammy Halbert rounded out the top five.
It was a barn-burner in the Pro Singles final. Jason Isennock and Wyatt Maguire battled back and forth nearly the entire race and in the end it was Maryland’s own Isennock coming through to victory by a margin of 0.122 seconds over Maguire. Dan Bromley turned in an excellent performance coming from the back of the field to earn the final podium spot in third.
It marked the first career Pro Singles victory for Isennock. He couldn’t have been happier by making it happen at his home track.
Wyatt was running really good,” Isennock said. “I forget how many laps I was leading the thing and the next thing I know I hear that Yamaha coming up beside me and I thought ‘Oh here we go.’ He ran a really good race. He was smooth, clean and I knew I could race him hard too, running handlebar to handlebar and not have to worry about him doing anything crazy.”
Maguire leads the Pro Singles standings after his second-place finish.
The series continues on July 20 at the Grays Harbor Half-Mile in Elma, Washington.
Hagerstown AMA Grand National Results – July 6, 2013
1 12 Brad Baker Eatonville, Wa Harley-Davidson 25 Laps
2 55A Jake Shoemaker Glenmoore, PA Kawasaki EX650 +06.778
3 42 Bryan Smith Flint, MI Kawasaki EX650 +09.305
4 73 Doug Lawrence Mississauga, ON Harley-Davidson +10.728
5 7 Sammy Halbert Graham, WA Harley-Davidson +11.596
6 95 JD Beach Philpot, KY Kawasaki EX650 +11.960
7 5 Jake Johnson Coatesville, PA Harley-Davidson +13.994
8 2 Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. Morris, CT Harley-Davidson +15.615
9 17 Henry Wiles Winn, MI Harley-Davidson +16.173
10 23 Jeffrey Carver Jr. Godfrey, IL Harley-Davidson +16.580
1 Brad Baker Eatonville, Wa 77
2 Brandon Robinson Oxford, PA 57
3 Henry Wiles Winn, MI 57
4 Jake Johnson Coatesville, PA 57
5 Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. Morris, CT 47
Pro Singles Final – July 6, 2013
1 30S Jason Isennock Timonium,MD Honda CRF450R 16 Laps
2 18M Wyatt Maguire Mead, WA Yamaha YZ 450F +00.122
3 54A Dan Bromley Warrington, PA KTM 450 SX-F +01.240
4 94B Ryan Wells Albion, NY Honda CRF450R +01.575
5 1 Stephen Vanderkuur Davison, MI Honda CRF450R +01.847
6 19B Justin Jones Honda CRF450R +02.356
7 21U Jay Maloney Oakland, NJ Honda CRF450R +02.724
8 77J Kyle Johnson Twin Lake, MI Kawasaki KX450F +03.131
9 11P Molly Terry Creve Coeur, IL Honda CRF450R +03.655 25.
10 83S Mike Poe Timonium, MD Honda CRF450R +06.718
1 Wyatt Maguire Mead, WA 67
2 Kyle Johnson Twin Lake, MI 59
3 Ryan Wells Albion, NY 57
4 Jason Isennock Timonium,MD 51
5 Mike Poe Timonium, MD 42