Six-in-a-Row: Bryan Smith Wins Again on Sacramento Mile
After a thrilling nose-to-tail battle at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds on Saturday night, Kawasaki-mounted No. 42 Bryan Smith claimed the Sacramento Mile victory for the sixth consecutive year. The Michigan native started from pole position, led every lap in the Main and topped Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle rider No. 2 Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. in a photo finish by a margin of 0.024 of a second.
Smith, after letting out a victory yell from his Crosley/Howerton Kawasaki Ninja 650, shared his strategy during the race to secure the win over Coolbeth.
“I could feel the No. 2 and the No. 6,” Smith said. “I thought, ‘Man I’m tired of being nervous out front, I want to be about second or third.’ I rolled off and Brad [Baker] went by me and then his bike blew up, I about ran into him. I said, ‘Alright, I’m better off being out front.’ It was a nail-biter those last few laps. Getting in the corner was a little funky and I’m just glad Kenny [Coolbeth, Jr.] didn’t run me over going into turn one or three going into the last lap.”
Coolbeth showed speed early in the evening, having dominated his Heat race by 2.404 seconds, and relentlessly battled with Smith for the entirety of the abbreviated 20-lap Main event. The race was red flagged as the leaders were working Lap 3 due to No. 98 Kayl Kolkman’s engine failure and crash in Turn 4.
“I just took a toe strap and strapped it to this thing and came up a little short,” Coolbeth said. “I was going to go around the outside in turn three and just stick it out, but I figured second place was better than third, so we just stuck with it and it feels good. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. We’ve had a terrible couple of weekends. We just have to keep doing this and get confidence back, and beat this guy.”
Local rider No. 80 Stevie Bonsey, who hails from Salinas, Calif., secured third place aboard his Harley-Davidson 750.
“I got a good start off of that single-file restart and I’m glad that I did,” Bonsey said. “Henry [Wiles] was messing with me on the first start and I saw that group getting away and that’s not what I wanted. So on that restart I knew I had to get out in front of that Kawasaki and connect with these guys and just run consistent laps, and that’s what we did. I didn’t have the power and quite the steam in this race to make any moves, so we’ll build on what we’ve got. I’m just happy to be up here.”
No. 69 Sammy Halbert, who started the weekend as the series points leader, placed eighth in Saturday’s race, dropping him to the second in the point standings behind new leader Smith. Smith now leads the field by just two points heading into another Mile event next weekend in Springfield, Ill.
In the GNC2 class, No. 16S Tristan Avery held no prisoners as he took the lead on Lap 2 of the GNC2 Main over eventual second place finisher No. 94B Ryan Wells and never looked back, winning the race by a margin of 2.022 seconds. No. 23F Jeffery Lowery took third.
Avery gave a thumbs as he crossed the line, saluting the crowd after his domination in the GNC2 Main.
“It felt like a bunch of weight lifted off of my shoulders,” Avery said. “After my win in Du Quoin last year on July 4th I’ve just been after getting a podium this year, and this is a major relief. This is exactly what we wanted and came here for. This is a dream come true once again, especially here, this is a special place for me. I love to come back here every year.”
Wells, who won his Heat race over Avery, came into the 12-lap Main hot, with sparks flying off of his steel shoe.
“I got off to an awesome start and was going to try to plug as many mistake-free laps as I could,” Wells said. “We had a couple of issues, I’m not sure what they were. We’re going to go back and do our research when we get home but we salvaged as many points as we could and I’m happy with a second. This is my best Mile finish yet, so I’m excited to keep going with this year.”
In the Clash of the Titans III Main, nine-time Grand National Champion No. 1 Scott Parker showed that he still has what it takes to bring home a victory, even 16 years into retirement. Parker won the legendary showdown over three-time Grand National Champion No. 9 Jay “Springer” Springsteen in a battle for the ages.
“First of all, I want to thank the fans for coming out, and we sure appreciate it,” Parker said. “To go out there and put on a show with Springer, it was something that felt awesome to do and it was exciting.”
Fan-favorite, motorcycle racing legend Springsteen didn’t let Parker off easy, with the duo drafting lap after lap in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
“It’s so much fun to get back out there and ride these bikes,” said Springsteen. “They just have so much more power and the technology of the bikes is so nice nowadays. I wish they were like this when Scotty and I put on a show back then. It was a pleasure to be out there like that.”
Up next is the Springfield Mile I on Sunday, May 29 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Be sure to purchase your tickets in advance at http://www.springfieldmile.org/ to see if Bryan Smith will be able to make it three for three on the Miles in 2016.
Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines:
• Harley-Davidson Pole Award: Bryan Smith
• McElroy Packaging Lucky 13 Award Winner: Bryan Smith
• MotoBatt Hard Charger Award Winner: Jarod Vanderkooi
• Ohlins Fastest Lap Award Winner: Brad Baker
• Sunoco “Go The Distance” Award Leader: Henry Wiles (147.5 miles completed)
• Larry and Judy McElroy Rookie of the Race Award Winner: Kevin Stallings
• Westside Truck Parts “Just off the Box” Award Winners: Kolby Carlile (4th), Austin Holmholz (5th)
• Sunoco “Go The Distance” Award Leader: Dylan Morin (101.75 miles completed)