Progressive Insurance AMA Grand National Championship tight as it heads to Atomic Speedway Short Track PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 20, 2004) -- The Progressive Insurance AMA Grand National Championship returns to Atomic Speedway in Oak ...
Progressive Insurance AMA Grand National Championship tight as it heads to Atomic Speedway Short Track
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 20, 2004) -- The Progressive Insurance AMA Grand National Championship returns to Atomic Speedway in Oak Ridge, Tenn., this Saturday, July 24, after the original June 25 race was rained out. A month ago Joe Kopp was hoping to make a dent in defending champ Chris Carr's championship points lead. Coming into this weekend's race Kopp has accomplished that goal. He has narrowed the gap from 23 points to a mere 10 points as the series heads to the mountains of Eastern Tennessee.
Kopp, 35, of Mica, Wash., has rallied with a win and a runner-up finish in the last two rounds, while Carr took third and sixth in those two races. Kopp is thrilled to be back in the championship hunt. The KTM USA/Jones Powersports-sponsored rider is hoping to earn his second AMA Grand National Championship, having won his first title in 2000.
Meanwhile Carr, who rides for Quality Checked Certified Pre Owned Ford and Lancaster Harley-Davidson, is looking to protect his series lead and he feels the best way to do that is by winning.
Short track racing is perhaps the roughest type of track for the Grand National riders. The tight quarters make for exciting racing for the fans, but difficult rough-and-tumble conditions for the riders. A bad start off the line on these challenging tracks can ruin a rider's chances of victory.
While both Kopp and Carr acknowledge the challenges of short track, over the 50-year history of AMA Grand National racing there is no one who is better on these types of racetracks than Carr. The 2003 AMA Pro Athlete of the Year is the all-time AMA Grand National Short Track wins leader. Kopp has yet to win a national on a short track.
Besides Carr, many knowledgeable fans believe that JR Schnabel could be another rider to watch at Atomic Speedway. Schnabel, who is sixth in the standings, has wins at the short track in Daytona Beach, Fla., and the tight TT circuit in Springfield, Ill. The West Bend, Wis., rider certainly knows his way around the tight racetracks.
Ken Coolbeth, Jr. is coming off a victory last weekend in Davenport, Iowa. With the win Coolbeth edged closer to Carr and teammate Kopp in the series standings.
Atomic Speedway is a new venue in the series. The track is a banked 1/3-mile red clay oval billed as the fastest 1/3-mile in the country. Atomic is hosting its first AMA Grand National event. It also marks the first time the Knoxville area has hosted the premier motorcycle dirt track racing series in over 20 years.
To pre-order tickets for the AMA Grand National at Atomic Speedway call (865) 947-7670 or visit the website www.atomicspeedway.com.