KENNY COOLBETH: 2006 AMA GRAND NATIONAL TWINS CHAMPION PICKERINGTON, Ohio (October 16, 2006) -- Kenny Coolbeth won the final round of the 2006 AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship at Scioto Downs in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, Oct.
KENNY COOLBETH: 2006 AMA GRAND NATIONAL TWINS CHAMPION
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (October 16, 2006) -- Kenny Coolbeth won the final round of the 2006 AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship at Scioto Downs in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, Oct. 14, and in the process earned the AMA Grand National Twins Championship.
It marked the first national championship for Coolbeth.
Pressure was on Coolbeth coming into the season finale. The 29-year-old factory Harley-Davidson rider from Warren, Conn., needed to finish fourth or better to secure the title, but breathing down his neck was seven-time champion Chris Carr. Coolbeth had been knocking on the door in recent years. He was runner-up to Carr in last year's championship and twice finished third in the final standings in the last four years. This was Coolbeth's 13th year in AMA Grand National competition.
"Getting the ride with Harley-Davidson and now winning the championship - it's been an awesome year," Coolbeth said. "Pulling this off was a dream come true."
The wait between the Labor Day races in Springfield, Ill., and the season finale was excruciating for Coolbeth. It was made even worse when the original date for the Scioto Downs race on Sept. 23 was rained out and the event was pushed back an additional three weeks.
"Going into Scioto Downs I felt more pressure than I ever had in my career," Coolbeth admitted. "I tried to keep my mind off of it, but it was hard to do."
Coolbeth's main rival Carr retired from the final race early after experiencing mechanical problems with his motorcycle. It brought to an end Carr's string of 5 consecutive AMA Grand National Championships.
Coolbeth overcame his nerves to win the series finale and his first AMA Grand National Championship. He now has the satisfaction that he accomplished the feat under some of the most intense pressure in the history of the series.
Coolbeth earned three victories in the series this year taking wins at Lake Odessa, Mich., Farley, Iowa and Columbus, Ohio -- all half-mile tracks. The 2006 championship was one of parity with seven riders winning the 10 national rounds. Coolbeth's three wins were the most of any competitor.
In the end Coolbeth won the newly formed Grand National Championship by 13 points (158-145) over Jared Mees. Bryan Smith finished third, while former champ Carr and Rich King tied for fourth in the final standings.