PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The "Magic Mile" at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds, in Du Quoin, Ill., should be even more magical this Saturday night, July 7, as the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship will, for the first time at Du...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The "Magic Mile" at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds, in Du Quoin, Ill., should be even more magical this Saturday night, July 7, as the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship will, for the first time at Du Quoin, run under the lights. The Du Quoin Mile is one of the grand old races on the AMA calendar having hosted AMA Grand National Dirt Tracks since 1949. The race is traditionally held during the day, but this year Southern Illinois racing fans will get to enjoy the thundering AMA Grand National bikes in the even more dramatic setting of nighttime under the lights.
Du Quoin marks the halfway point in the 20-race series. Chris Carr, the two-time national champ from Fleetwood, Pa., leads the point standings by three points over defending champ Joe Kopp. Carr is riding a hot streak of three national wins in a row coming into Saturday's race. The 16-year AMA pro racing veteran who rides for the Phoenix Racing/Harley-Davidson of Sacramento team will be looking for his first victory on the Magic Mile. He's twice been runner-up in this race.
"I'm looking forward to Du Quoin. It's a race I've never won," said Carr.
"The fact I took over the points lead last week is nice, but now I have to work on extending it. Now is not the time to be conservative, I have to keep putting the hammer down."
Carr agrees that the racing should be typical for Du Quoin -- close. But given that this weekend's event will be under the lights, Carr said the big difference will be in track conditions. "When the sun goes down, and the track cools, it will be interesting to see how the dirt changes. In that respect, it will almost be a new track for us."
This will be the second time this season that the series has visited a mile. Carr won the Memorial Day weekend race on the Springfield Mile. With a mile victory already under his belt and a three-race winning streak, Carr certainly must be considered the favorite to win at Du Quoin.
Legendary tuner Bill Werner knows how to make a motorcycle sing at Du Quoin. Werner and the factory Harley-Davidson team earned a number of victories at Du Quoin with riders Scott Parker and Jay Springsteen (Springsteen and Kevin Atherton are the only former winners in this year's race). Rich King will have the benefit of Werner's expertise in his corner and that could make him the biggest threat to Carr. King has worked his way up to third in the standings at mid-season, but will need an excellent second half to get in the hunt with Carr and Kopp. Joe Kopp, of Mica, Wash., led the championship most of the year until last weekend. Kopp has never been known as a great "Miler" (his best previous finish at Du Quoin was seventh in 1996), but he has improved his skills on mile ovals and hopes to earn back the series lead with a victory at Du Quoin.
Racing fans will get to see a full slate of action at Du Quoin. Supporting the featured Progressive Insurance Grand National will be the SuperTrapp SuperTrackers and the Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Series. This will be the first time this season that all three series will come together on one weekend.
Bryan Bigelow, of Au Gres, Mich., is coming off a win in the SuperTrackers last weekend and now leads that series by five points over Texan Greg Teague.
Illinois' own Paul Morgan III, of Centralia, leads in the Sportster Performance Series by four points over Texan Willie McCoy.
-AMA Pro Racing