COOLBETH TACKLES SALUDA -- WINS SECOND AMA FLAT TRACK EVENT OF THE SEASON Screamin' Eagle Wrecking Crew Riders Sweep Podium SALUDA, Va. (July 16, 2007) -- Kenny Coolbeth kept the Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson Wrecking Crew winning streak alive...
COOLBETH TACKLES SALUDA -- WINS SECOND AMA FLAT TRACK EVENT OF THE SEASON
Screamin' Eagle Wrecking Crew Riders Sweep Podium
SALUDA, Va. (July 16, 2007) -- Kenny Coolbeth kept the Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson Wrecking Crew winning streak alive Sunday, winning the Joe Whetherly Memorial AMA Flat Track event at Virginia Motor Speedway.
Coolbeth earned his second win of the season and 11th of his career Saturday. The factory-sponsored Harley-Davidson rider has won two of the fifth 2007 events so far. Wrecking Crew teammate and current points leader Jared Mees has earned the other three wins on his Blue Springs Harley-Davidson and finished in second place at Saluda.
"Kenny and Jared are riding so well and they are keeping the points chase real close," Harley-Davidson Racing Manager Anne Paluso said. "It seems like all of the teams are stepping up their game and the Wrecking Crew riders are right there every race, trying to compete for every spot on the podium."
The Wrecking Crew swept the podium for the second time this season (Lima, Ohio) as Joe Kopp and the Team Latus Harley-Davidson team earned third place -- his first podium of the season. Wrecking Crew rider Bryan Smith and the Pat Moroney's Harley-Davidson team finished seventh.
Coolbeth -- the defending AMA Flat Track champion -- is currently second in the point standings, nine points behind Mees.
"Jared won the last three races and it was our team's goal to come in here and just finish ahead of him to keep the points close," Coolbeth said. "I would rather be in the lead but I'm looking forward to the rest of the season. We just need to keep doing what we've been doing and stay as close to the front as possible."
Coolbeth said the race was more exciting because he and Mees traded first and second positions throughout the night.
"It seemed like we passed each other back and forth all race long," Coolbeth said. "I really wanted to work on my starts and get a better jump at the starting line. That happened and I just kept my head down all night long after that."
Mees has not finished off the podium so far this season.
"I'm happy with the second place finish especially considering where we qualified (seventh)," Mees said. "We tried a few different things and we finally got caught up and put together a competitive setup for the main event. My team did a great job giving me the bike that could put in great laps and let me catch up.
"It would have been nice to make it four (wins) in a row because Kenny is so competitive and we want to earn as many points as possible. But we finished right next to him and that helps us keep this points battle going."
Kopp, the 2000 AMA Grand National champion, was pleased to be back in contention for a race victory just a week following his first DNQ of the season.
"It was so important to get back to a race and finish in the top five," Kopp said. "I was really feeling down in the dumps last week. I felt like I had let everyone down by not qualifying. But all of my sponsors and teammates were supportive and told me they backed me 110 percent. That really helped me work toward a good showing in Saluda.
"We had a great bike from the start and we didn't have to change much beyond fuel and tires. That let me focus on riding and finishing well. It was great to be back on the podium."
The next AMA Flat Track Twins race will be held at the Darke County Fairgrounds in Greenville, Ohio on July 21. Coolbeth no doubt will be aiming to keep Mees behind him.
"Jared is on a roll and we have to go into every race with an attitude to win," Coolbeth said. "I knew he would be tough this year and he's making me work harder. We both want to win and we both have great teams behind us helping us win."