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FT: Lake Odessa preview

AMA GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP VISITS SPORT'S HOTBED OF MICHIGAN PICKERINGTON, Ohio (August 21, 2007) -- Perhaps no area of the country has consistently produced more great AMA Grand National riders than Michigan. So when the series comes to ...

AMA GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP VISITS SPORT'S HOTBED OF MICHIGAN

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (August 21, 2007) -- Perhaps no area of the country has consistently produced more great AMA Grand National riders than Michigan. So when the series comes to I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa this Saturday, Aug. 25, it marks a homecoming of sorts, especially for many of the series riders.

Harley-Davidson factory rider Ken Coolbeth comes to I-96 Speedway's Half-Mile leading the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship by a scant two points over Jared Mees. While Coolbeth is from Morris, Connecticut, Lake Odessa has become a home away from home for the defending champ. Coolbeth became I-96s first two-time winner last year and now comes to the I-96 Speedway this weekend trying to make it three national wins in a row at the track.

The Coolbeth/Mees battle is turning into one of the classic two-man races for the title in the history of the series. Coolbeth took back the series lead from Mees in the most recent Grand National Twins race in Hagerstown, Md.

"It's never over until the last race," said Coolbeth, who is shooting for his fourth straight win in the Twins class. "I saw the checkered flag first in Hagerstown and that's how I want to keep it. It's going to be tough. Jared is right on us and it's going to be a fight to the end. Another win at I-96 is what we need and there's no reason we can't do it again."

Mees is originally from Pennsylvania, but now calls Clio, Michigan home. Mees would love to put his Blue Springs/ Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson on top and become only the second Michigan rider to win at Lake Odessa.

"We've been on the box every race so far," Mees said. "We're right there in the championship. The pressure is off from leading it. I just want to get back to winning races. You get used to winning and it makes you mad when you finish second."

Both Coolbeth and Mees have had three-race winning streaks in the series to this point in the 2007 campaign.

Michigan has been the home to numerous AMA Grand National Champions over the years. Scott Parker, Jay Springsteen and the late, great, Bart Markel, were three of the most dominant riders ever in AMA Grand National racing.

Today, a new generation of riders from the Wolverine State are making their mark. In addition to transplant Mees, riders such as Bryan Smith from Flushing, Bryan Bigelow from Omer and Henry Wiles from Blanchard, are continuing the long tradition of top riders coming from Michigan.

Lake Odessa is only a couple of hours from Ford Motor Company's headquarters in Dearborn and a number of officials from Ford have traditionally visited Lake Odessa to watch the series they sponsor.

I-96 Speedway will also host a round of the Expert Twins class. Joe Eades, of Petersburg, Va., has earned three straight podium finishes and leads the series.

The Lake Odessa race will be broadcast on MavTV. Visit www.mavtv.com for additional information.

I-96 Speedway grandstands open at 4:00 pm and practice begins at 6:00 pm, opening ceremonies begin a 7:30 pm. Tickets are available now by calling 616-642-0555 to order reserved seats. For additional information visit the website www.i96speedway.com.

-credit: ama

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