Wiles Tops Salinas Short Track
SALINAS, CA (April 24, 2011) - The AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship returned to the Salinas Sports Complex yesterday for the Round 5 Short Track event, where hard work by promoter Ken Netto and the AMA Pro crew provided a very racy venue for the Easter Sunday showdown. Defending Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Champion Henry Wiles (Monster Energy Kawasaki/Jones Bros Racing) had been fighting problems all year, but a wire-to-wire win in Salinas’ Expert Main, coupled with a second-place finish in yesterday’s TT, has marked Wiles as newly resurgent.
Wiles’ victory was somewhat bittersweet, since he’ll be undergoing knee surgery next week that may force him to miss a significant chunk of the 2011 season, but the affable Michigan rider went out on a very high note. “They were an awesome two days,” Wiles said. “I’m still pumped about it all. It just means so much to me, with some of the things I was up against the whole weekend, really. I can’t wait to get back to racing and get back to all the fans. All the fans coming out to the races and getting excited about watching motorcycles race, that really motivates and drives me.”
The race was far from a gimme for Wiles, as fast qualifier Jimmy Wood (Southland Racing/M.E.H. Corp.) tried every way possible to get around the solid Wiles. “I started trying to make a couple different moves here and there,” said Wood. “I checked behind us a couple times, [and] we had a little bit of a gap, so I figured I could just sit behind him. He wasn’t making any mistakes at all. On the last five laps, I tried going up a little bit to go around him, [but] he was just too fast.”
The race for third ended up a family affair, as Woody Kyle Racing/Kings Kustoms’ Jethro Halbert had it, and little brother Sammy (Woody Kyle Racing/Fredericktown Yamaha) wanted it. The two battled back and forth for a long time before Sammy was able to wrest the position away on Lap 22. “I thought he might make it easy,” said Sammy, “[since] I’m going for a championship, but he really wanted to be on the podium too.”
Yesterday’s TT winner Jake Johnson overcame a second-row start to bring his Zanotti Racing Honda home fifth. American Motorcyclist Association/Dallas Fort Worth Honda’s Chris Carr stayed in the hunt as well, finishing sixth over youngsters Jeffery Carver (Van’s Yamaha/Woody Kyle Racing) and hometown hero Stevie Bonsey (Mack Daddy Racing). Monster Energy Kawasaki Werner-Springsteen Racing’s JR Schnabel and Chaplin Kawasaki’s Kenny Coolbeth filled out the top ten.
The Fastenal Dash for Cash saw Jethro Halbert come out of the box quick and win the four-lap sprint over Wood and Bonsey. The win was worth $1,000 and an extra 5 points toward the Grand National Championship.
Sammy Halbert continues to hold the overall GNC points lead in the AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship, his 103 points giving him an 8-point margin over defending Grand National Champion Johnson. Coolbeth and Brad Baker follow with 74 and 72 points, respectively.
The Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles main saw a first-time winner in the form of Shoe Racing/Sportland Motorsports’ Will Cato, who ran away with the victory. Current points-leader Gerit Callies finished almost two seconds back, while a small war raged several seconds behind him between second-generation racers Mickey Fay (Pat Hayes Racing/Rod Lake) and Rod Spencer Jr. (Rod Lake/Hooper Motorsports). The two fought furiously over the last podium spot, but in the end neither got it done, as the honor instead went to Weirbach Racing/General Engineering’s Mikey Martin.
It is Callies, however, who maintains a strong hold on the points lead, topping Mikey Avila 102 to 90 after a sixth-place finish on Sunday. Martin and Cato follow with 72 and 56 points, respectively.
Next up, the AMA Pro Racing Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship heads to Springfield, Illinois, after a brief hiatus. The series will return to racing May 28 and 29 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds for the Springfield TT (AMA Pro Round 6) and the Springfield Mile (AMA Pro Round 7). To be a part of the Memorial Day weekend action, visit www.illinoismda.com.