Home State Favorite, Jared Mees Wins AMA Pro Grand Nationals Invasion
Lake Odessa, Michigan (Saturday, July 23rd, 2011): It was Day II of the Auto First Michigan Festival of Speed Presented by Right Way Automotive at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Michigan as the traveling stars of the AMA Pro Grand National Harley-Davidson Flat Track Championship Series invaded for their yearly appearance on the big ½ (0.500) mile high-banked dirt oval. A capacity crowd witnessed the two divisions representing the AMA Pro Grand National Flat Track Motorcycle Series as 87 total riders were on the grounds including 51 Experts and 36 Pros.
The first Main of the evening would be for the AMA Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Championship division and as the field took the green flag for their 16-lap Main, it would be Stephen Vanderkurr passing Mikey Martin going into turn one to lead lap one, but lost the lead a lap later to 18-year-old Mikey Martin the following lap.
Martin set a torrid pace as Chaz Springsteen, one of several home state drivers in the field, began chasing down Martin for the lead. Springsteen, the nephew of the legendary AMA rider, Jay Springsteen, fought tooth and nail with Martin all over the ½ mile before unfortunately dropping out with just five laps to go. This left Conner Anderson to try and take on Martin.
But it would be to no avail as Martin made the long haul from Acampo, California worthwhile as he would take the checkered flag in to win the AMA Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Championship Main and would ride his Weirbach Racing / General Engineering Honda to victory lane. Anderson settled for second while Jake Shoemaker, Michael LaBelle, and John Long III completed the top five. Jason Isennock finished sixth as Zakk Palmer, Corey Crawford, William Cato, and Jeremy Hamilton wrapped up the top 10.
Earlier in the afternoon, Martin out qualified the 36-rider field with a lap measured at a 22.776 and he also won a Qualifier Heat. Vanderkuur scored the other Qualifier Heat Race win. Palmer picked up the win in the Last Chance Race to transfer to the Main along-with Hamilton, Long III, and Cato who also transferred.
The bikes and riders everyone in attendance was waiting for; the AMA Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Expert Twins Championship division rode out for their 25-lap main and at the drop of the green flag, it would be 18-year-old Brad Baker leading the field but a lap later, Bryan Smith from near-by Flint, Michigan would grab the lead away. On lap four, Jared Mees, also a home state favorite from Clio, Michigan, slipped by to take over the top spot.
Mees was in a dogfight for the lead with Smith and defending series champion, Jake Johnson as the trio battled all over the fast ½ mile dirt oval. Slowly but surely though, Mees began pulling away from his fellow podium drivers and opened up a full second lead on Smith and Johnson. Current series points leader, Sammy Halbert began reeling in Johnson and that battle ensued for the final podium position while Mees continued to show the way.
Mees opened up a nearly two second lead over the rest of the pack and in the end, Mees would never be seriously challenged the rest of the way as one of the home state favorites in his Rogers Lake / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson would take the checkered flag to score the win to the roar and approval of the partisan home state crowd. Smith settled for second with Johnson, Halbert, and seven-time national champion, Chris Carr completed the top five. Matt Weidman finished sixth while Jeffrey Carver Jr., Kenny Coolbeth Jr., Brad Baker, and Brandon Robinson finished off the top 10.
Baker was the fastest qualifier of the 51 riders on the grounds as he went a 22.489 and he also picked up a Qualifier Heat Race Win. Smith and Johnson also collected Qualifier Heat Race victories while Johnson also picked up the Dash for Cash win. In the two Semi-Features, Michael Kirkness, the winner of the AMA Regional Flat Track Motorcycle Series Combo Main the previous night, took the win over Doug Lawrence and Robinson while Johnny Lewis scored the second Semi-Feature victory over Adam Carpinello and Jimmy Wood. All six would transfer into the Main.