AMA

Tri-City: Event preview

AMA Grand National Racing returns to St. Louis metro area after 18-year absence. PICKERINGTON, Ohio-- The AMA Progressive U.S. Flat Track Championship comes back to the St. Louis area on Saturday, June 15, after almost a two-decade absence. The...

AMA Grand National Racing returns to St. Louis metro area after 18-year absence.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio-- The AMA Progressive U.S. Flat Track Championship comes back to the St. Louis area on Saturday, June 15, after almost a two-decade absence. The last AMA Grand National event held in the metro area was in 1984, when the championship came to Busch Stadium for a short-track event. This time around it's Granite City, Illinois', Tri-City Speedway's half-mile, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, which will host round six of the 20-race championship this weekend. It marks the first time the track has hosted an AMA National.

Defending series champion Chris Carr leads this year's points race coming into Granite City. Carr was still a year away from his rookie season when the series last came to the St. Louis area. In fact, none of the riders racing in the series today raced at Busch Stadium 18 years ago. Carr got off to a relatively slow start this year, but has rallied to earn two podium finishes in the last two rounds, including a victory on the Springfield Mile over Memorial Weekend.

"I'm looking forward to racing in Granite City," said Carr, a Fleetwood, Penn., resident who rides a Quality Checked Certified Pre-Owned Ford-sponsored Harley-Davidson. "It's a new track to everyone so it's going to be important to get a good set-up on the bike as quickly as possible."

Johnny Murphree, a 23-year-old native Californian who now calls Forsyth, Ill., home, is only six points down to Carr in the series rankings. Murphree is hot off of his first career AMA Grand National win that came on June 1 in Hagerstown, Md. With the confidence he's built from that win Murphree might be a tough rider to beat on Saturday.

After five races, Connecticut's Ken Coolbeth and Pennsylvanian Kevin Varnes are locked in a tight battle over third in the series with only one point separating them. Coolbeth and Varnes are close enough to Carr to have at least a chance to take over the series lead this weekend in Granite City, so both have much to gain if either one can earn a victory Saturday.

Tri-City Speedway will also host round four of the Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Series on Saturday. That series tightened up considerably after the top two riders crashed together in the race in Maryland, two weeks ago. Last year's No. 1 Bryan Smith, of Flint, Mich., still leads the series by a single point over New Jersey rider Jacob Johnson, but the rest of the field has closed in after the leading duo crashed out of the race in Hagerstown. Up-and-coming rider Jared Mees, of Honey Brook, Pa., took advantage of the leader's problems two weeks ago and won his first series event. Mees moved up to fifth in the series and is part of a logjam of seven riders separated by only five points in third through ninth position. This weekend's race could go a long way in sorting out the very close race in that series.

<pre> AMA PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE U.S. FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE OF EVENTS TRI-CITY SPEEDWAY, GRANITE CITY, IL JUNE 15, 2002

TRACK DIRECTIONS: I-270 to exit 4, then 0.5 mile south on SR 203 Track Phone: (618) 931-7836

2:30 p.m. -  4:30 p.m.                Registration at the track
2:30 p.m. -  4:40 p.m.                Tech Inspection at the track
4:45 p.m.                        Mandatory Riders Meeting
5:00 p.m. -  5:45 p.m.                Practice
6:00 p.m.                        Qualifying Heats
7:30 p.m. -  8:00 p.m.                Opening Ceremonies
8:00 p.m. -  8:10 p.m.                1st Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Heat
8:10 p.m. -  8:20 p.m.                2nd Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Heat
8:20 p.m. -  8:30 p.m.                3rd Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Heat
8:30 p.m. -  8:40 p.m.                1st Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat
8:40 p.m. -  8:50 p.m.                2nd Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat
8:50 p.m. -  9:00 p.m.                3rd Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat
9:00 p.m. -  9:10 p.m.                4th Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat
9:10 p.m. -  9:25 p.m.                HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER PERFORMANCE FINAL
9:25 p.m. -  9:35 p.m.                Victory Circle for Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Final
9:35 p.m. -  9:45 p.m.                1st Progressive Insurance Grand National  Semi
9:45 p.m. -  9:55 p.m.                2nd Progressive Insurance Grand National Semi
9:55 p.m. - 10:05 p.m.                3rd Progressive Insurance Grand National Semi
10:20 p.m. -10:35 p.m.                AMA PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE GRAND NATIONAL FINAL
10:35 p.m.                          Victory Circle for Grand National

IN CASE OF INCLEMENT WEATHER, SCHEDULE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE

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Series AMA
Drivers Chris Carr