POMONA, Calif. (October 13, 2012) - This just in; the state of California knows how to put on a solid race. For the third and final time this season, AMA Pro Flat Track was back in the golden state in front of an ecstatic crowd. Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (Screaming Eagle Harley-Davidson) got the win in what proved to be a phenomenal grand finale to conclude the 2012 season. When the lights turned on Saturday night at the LA County Fairplex, engines roared throughout the confines of the stadium and the euphoric fans hung on every lap. Though Coolbeth Jr. put on a show to claim his second victory of the year, the real story of the night was Jared Mees (Rogers Racing/ Harley-Davidson) as he took home the coveted AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Grand National Championship presented by Motorcycle-Superstore.com and Lucas Oil No. 1 plate.
"The feeling hasn't really sunk in yet," said Mees. "So much hard work and dedication has gone in to this season and it all paid off. I kind of knew where I was at the whole way and was able to bring it home. I really have to thank my team and sponsors for all of their support this year; this was a great team effort."
Though Mees finished eighth, his effort was more than enough as his only competitors for the title, Sammy Halbert (Southeast Harley/ Harley-Davidson) and defending Grand National Champion Jake Johnson (Zanotti Racing/ Harley-Davidson) looked sluggish the whole way.
Coolbeth Jr. was in a different area code Saturday night as he took the uncontested checkered flag by more than eight seconds. The Connecticut product saved the best race for last as this was clearly his sharpest performance of the year.
The race behind Coolbeth Jr. was where the real action was held. Bryan Smith (Brosley Radio/ Kawasaki) bounced back from a 14th starting position and was neck-and-neck with Brad Baker (Dodge Bros Racing/ Harley-Davidson). Baker was able to hold off Smith for a strong second-place finish with Smith closing out the podium.
"It takes a team to make this happen," said Coolbeth Jr. "I'm not going to take all of the credit. Next season we just have to train hard and stay healthy and we'll be alright. We're going to keep our heads held high and give these boys a run for the championship next year."
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles
Stephen Vanderkuur (Parkinson Brothers Racing/ Honda) has been a beast all year long and Saturday night's showdown was no exception. The young gun won the final race of the season in convincing fashion and clinched the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles National Championship.
"This feels unbelievable," said Vanderkuur. "I want to give a huge thank you to my team and a big shout-out to everyone who helped me achieve this goal. There are really so many people to thank for my success."
Vanderkuur, starting from pole position, found himself trailing rival Jason Isennock (High Dairy Stores/ Honda) early on, but a crash on lap four caused a staggered restart. The second chance was all Vanderkuur needed as he caught Isennock on the back stretch and stole the lead. However, one man's fortune is another man's tough luck, as the staggered start proved to be the last thing Isennock needed as it caused him to fall back to fourth and eventually land outside the top-five finishers.
Dominic Collindres (Weirbach Racing/ Honda) ran a good race, finishing in second on the night and fourth on the season in the Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles standings. Wyatt Maquire (Kirkland Racing/ Yamaha) closed out the podium with a solid third-place finish.
Vanderkuur has been atop the standings for the majority of the season and it became evident early on that the upcoming star was on his way to a breakout year.
AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at www.amaproracing.com.