FT: Castle Rock preview

AMA FORD QUALITY CHECKED FLAT TRACK CHAMPIONSHIP RETURNS TO CASTLE ROCK PICKERINGTON, Ohio (August 9, 2006) -- It's been 12 years since the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship has visited Castle Rock, Wash., but this weekend...


PICKERINGTON, Ohio (August 9, 2006) -- It's been 12 years since the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship has visited Castle Rock, Wash., but this weekend Castle Rock Race Park will host two days of national championship racing on Saturday evening, Aug. 12 and Sunday afternoon, Aug. 13. Saturday will feature the fabled Castle Rock TT race, while Sunday will showcase the nation's top flat track riders on the new quarter-mile short track.

Castle Rock is an historic venue that hosted some of the most exciting AMA Flat Track races from 1960s through the late 1970s. The eruption of Mount St. Helens buried the famous track. It was later rebuilt and hosted two nationals in the mid-1990s. This year will mark the first return of the Grand Nationals since 1994.

The 1979 Castle Rock TT, when local hero Brad Hurst crashed on the first lap, then proceeded to make a charge from last to first, is one of the all-time classics in AMA racing history.

Another local hero, Joe Kopp, from Mica, Wash., leads the AMA Grand National Singles Championship coming into this weekend's doubleheader. Kopp, who will ride a Honda sponsored by Latus Harley-Davidson, Renton Honda and Beaverton Honda, holds a two-point lead in Grand National Singles over Suzuki rider Jake Johnson, of Franklinville, N.J.

It's a very tight points chase with JR Schnabel, Bryan Smith and Shaun Russell all within eight points of Kopp.

"It's great to get back to the Northwest," said Kopp, who's spent the last couple of months campaigning the series in the Midwest. "It's a bonus to have the lead in the championship. With this being a doubleheader it's going to make a big difference in the championship. I raced in a local race at Castle Rock this spring. I like the track and hopefully I'll have a good weekend.

"There are always some tough local riders that surprise people at Castle Rock. I know when I raced there I got a bad start and a few of those guys were giving me headaches. So it could be a big weekend for one of those kids as well."

Another pair of Washington riders are coming home to race Castle Rock. Brothers Jethro and Sam Halbert, from Graham. Like Kopp, the Halbert brothers are regulars on the Grand National circuit. Sam scored a career-best runner-up finish at Daytona opener this March and is ranked seventh in the Singles championship. Jethro has had better luck in the Twins series this season, but he too is ranked in the Singles, coming into Castle Rock ranked 20th.

With Castle Rock hosting back-to-back rounds of the Grand National Singles, this weekend could play a pivotal roll in the championship. The rider most likely to make a big jump in the standings this weekend is seven-time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr. Carr missed the main in the season opener at Daytona Beach, Fla., and enters Castle Rock mired in 13th-place. He is a two-time Castle Rock TT winner and the only former winner in the field. He will be a significant threat on his Quality Checked Certified Pre-Owned Ford-backed machines.

Castle Rock has often produced surprise winners from the region, who have a chance to race on the track a lot. Local favorites include Dan Stanley, from Bellingham, Jeff Annen from Linwood, Kyle Ragsdale, of Sheldon, Ryan Anderson from Portland, Ore., and brothers Scooter and Christian Vernon from Olympia.

The Mt. St. Helens Motorcycle Club will be hosting the return of the Castle Rock National. For more information call 360-274-8700.

WHAT: The Castle Rock TT and Short Track Nationals, rounds 13 and 14 of the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship -- rounds 4 and 5 of the GNC Singles Championship.

WHERE: Castle Rock Race Park. Take Exit 48 or Exit 49 off I-5 at Castle Rock. (First exit going North and Second exit going South) Go west into town. Turn on "A" St. Cross the river and track is on the left at the Fairgrounds

WHEN: Saturday, Sunday Aug. 12-13, 2006 COURSE: The Castle Rock Race Park's famed TT course and ¼ mile short track.

SCHEDULE: Saturday - Gates open at 1:30 p.m.; Qualifying Practice begins at 4:30 p.m.; Opening Ceremonies at 7:00 p.m. Sunday -- Gates open at 9:00 am, Qualifying Practice begins at Noon, Opening Ceremonies at 1:30 pm.

TICKETS: Call 541-318-0493

-credit: ama pro racing

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Series AMA
Drivers Chris Carr