AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Heads to Salinas!

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (April 21, 2011) - The AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship is set to invade the West Coast for the first time in 2011 over the Easter weekend, as Salinas, California's Salinas Sports Complex plays host to Rounds 4 and 5 on April 23-24. Saturday will feature a TT Steeplechase, followed by a Short Track on Easter Sunday, all adding up to one can't-miss event.

For the history buffs out there, this isn't the first Grand National to be held in Salinas ... a Half Mile National was staged in the Monterey Country city back in 1968, a race in which none other than former Grand National Champion Mert Lawwill took victory. Amateur and Pro-AM TT racing at the Sports Complex dates back to the early 1960s.

Fast forward to 2011, and the all-new cast of characters that makes up the AMA Pro Racing "Rolling Thunder Show" is getting set to continue the tight, handlebar-banging action that's typified the 2011 season. Three-time Grand National Champion Kenny Coolbeth is fresh off his first Short Track National win (at last weekend's DuQuoin event) and will be looking to notch his first TT win on his Chaplin Kawasaki-backed Kawasaki.

Current points-leader Sammy Halbert (Fredericktown Yamaha/Woody Kyle Racing) backed up his pair of Daytona wins with a come-from-behind fifth-place result at Round 3, but he’s looking to expand on his 16-point lead in a big way. Meanwhile, Coolbeth is tied for second in the points chase with defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson. And though Johnson’s a Pennsylvanian, Salinas will be something of a of a hometown event for his crew, as the Zanotti Racing Team is based in California.

Henry Wiles, who’s dominated Grand National Singles racing over the last few years, will be trying to straighten out what’s been a trying year for the Monster Energy Kawasaki/Don’s Kawasaki-backed effort. After getting banged around at last weekend’s DuQuoin event—and coming away with a dismal 19th-place finish—Wiles is twelfth in points, but that deficit probably won’t last long.

Salinas’s own Stevie Bonsey will be looking to keep the victories local as he brings his potent Mack Daddy Racing Honda out with a chance to perform in front of friends and family. (Watch for an upcoming “Blue Groove” column on Bonsey, who doubles as a quick road racer, and check out Mark Gardiner’s DuQuoin-to-Salinas column right here.)

South Dakota’s Gerit Callies has taken possession of the Pro Singles points standings after his dominate performance in DuQuoin. California’s Mikey Avila had been tied with Callies, but his ninth-place finish at Round 3 leaves him 14 points back, in second. Another Californian, Mikey Martin, rests third in the points.

For tickets and information to Rounds 4 and 5 of the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship at the Salinas Sports Complex, April 23-24, click here.