Coolbeth wins AMA championship with Harley-Davidson First Screamin' Eagle Championship in Nine Years COLUMBUS, Ohio (Oct. 15, 2006) -- It was a banner day for the Screamin' Eagle AMA Flat Track program Saturday. Not only did factory rider Kenny...
Coolbeth wins AMA championship with Harley-Davidson
First Screamin' Eagle Championship in Nine Years
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Oct. 15, 2006) -- It was a banner day for the Screamin' Eagle AMA Flat Track program Saturday. Not only did factory rider Kenny Coolbeth earn his first series championship, but the Screamin' Eagle Wrecking Crew swept the podium for the third consecutive race.
"The entire team worked their butts off," Coolbeth said. "This is a dream come true because I've always wanted to be a factory rider for Harley-Davidson and I've always wanted to win a championship. They have the knowledge and the people to make a championship happen. That showed this season."
It was Coolbeth's third victory of the season and second career win at the Scioto Downs race track in Columbus. He earned his first career victory here in 2002. He was in good company at the finish line this time.
Wrecking Crew teammate Jared Mees and the Texter Harley-Davidson team finished second while veteran Screamin' Eagle factory rider Rich King was third. The fourth member of the Wrecking Crew, Bryan Smith, suffered mechanical problems in the last lap and finished 11th on his Pat Moroney's Harley-Davidson.
"We are ecstatic," Harley-Davidson Racing Manager Anne Paluso said. "It's been nine years since the Harley-Davidson factory team carried the No. 1 plate. We put the right team together to make it happen with two great factory riders in Kenny and Rich and their Wrecking Crew teammates Bryan and Jared."
If that wasn't enough, the four riders finished in the top four of the point standings too. Coolbeth finished the final point standings with 158 points while Mees was second (145), Smith was third (127) and King was tied for fourth (126 with Chris Carr and the Ford Quality Checked Ford Harley-Davidson team).
"The success of the entire flat track program is a reflection of the quality people we have on the teams, the riders and the dealers who are a big part of the Wrecking Crew program," Paluso said. "Everyone has an incredible passion for racing and winning and together everyone worked to reach our goal of winning a championship."
Mees and Smith each won their heat races while Kenny finished second in his heat event. Smith started the event in the No. 1 qualifying position while Mees was third, Coolbeth was fifth and King was 14th.
With the third place finish, King moved up from fifth to fourth in the standings. It was his fourth podium finish of the season.
"I had some trouble shifting the bike but it was running fast all day," King said. "I started on the third row but I just worked my way up and passed everyone except two, as it turns out. We go every week to win the race and it's unfortunate that I didn't win, but we raced well and it's good to end the season on a high note like that.
"I didn't win the championship, but it went to a very well-deserving guy. We stumbled at a couple of races and that put us behind. We had a great night tonight. The entire Wrecking Crew team did. That turned out to be a great concept and it's just another way for Harley-Davidson to give back to the sport of flat track racing. My hat is off to them for what they have done this year. The Wrecking Crew was a great deal."
Coolbeth said he knew he wasn't going to give up the lead once he moved to the front of the pack.
"I got a good start. I think I was second off the line," Coolbeth said. "It took me about five laps to get around everyone and take the lead and that's when I checked out. I never gave up the lead. It was an awesome race.
"Our entire team had a good race but Rich just worked his butt off to move up to the front. I'm just so happy that we all did so well. I feel like I'm on cloud nine."
Coolbeth has steadily worked his way up to the No. 1 position over the past few years. He finished third in the final standings in 2004 and second in 2005. Earning the title and the race win on the same day is exactly what he had in mind.
"I don't think this has completely sunk in but it's amazing," Coolbeth said. "I've been climbing that ladder to get here and I just can't believe it. Part of me is already thinking about how I am going to be riding with that big bull's-eye on my back next year, but most of me still can't believe we won the championship.
"This feels good. This is the way I wanted it to happen. I wanted to win the race and championship together. This is the best way to end the season."
Harley-Davidson and Live I Sports teamed up to give a free weekend of racing for all website fans. Unfortunately the website was overloaded with such a big turnout of fans, the system could not accommodate all viewers. The site will archive the race Saturday night and it will be available on www.liveisports.com to anyone who registers for the site. The cost will remain free for the race.