FT: Screamin' Eagles Springfield preview

WRECKING CREW RIDERS DON'T WANT TEAM'S WINNING STREAK IN SPRINGFIELD TO STOP NOW Screamin' Eagle Riders Set for Springfield Mile MILWAUKEE (Aug. 30, 2007) --Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson factory rider Kenny Coolbeth won the first AMA Flat...

Screamin' Eagle Riders Set for Springfield Mile

MILWAUKEE (Aug. 30, 2007) --Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson factory rider Kenny Coolbeth won the first AMA Flat Track race of the year held at the historic Springfield Mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

One of his Wrecking Crew teammates, Bryan Smith, won the Springfield Mile event exactly one year ago and is the defending champion of the fall race there.

That means a Wrecking Crew rider has earned the win on the Mile in the last two events. If you ask any of the four riders if they want that streak to continue, you'll get a resounding nod of approval.

Of course, each of them wants to be the one standing on the top of the podium to make it happen. Round nine of the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship season is Sunday.

Coolbeth has earned five wins in eight races this season and has finished outside the top three just two times. He's also the AMA Flat Track Twins category points leader. This year's Springfield victory was his first on the Mile and he certainly would like to sweep the Mile events this season and add to his 14 career AMA wins.

Wrecking Crew rider Jared Mees and the Blue Springs Harley-Davidson team have collected three wins this season along with five other podium finishes. Mees is in second place in the standings, just six points back from Coolbeth. Mees has never won the Mile and would like to add that to his six career AMA victories.

Smith and the Pat Moroney's Harley-Davidson team have earned three podium finishes and are currently third in the point standings. Smith's first and only career win to date is the fall Mile win from 2006 and he's aiming to make winning that race a habit.

Joe Kopp -- the 2000 AMA Grand National champion -- has 11 career AMA victories but has yet to snag the title at the Springfield Mile. The veteran Team Latus Harley-Davidson rider knows a win on Labor Day Weekend would help him move up from sixth place in the standings.

Of course, there are going to be 14 other riders anxious to get the win too.

"I want to win that race again," Coolbeth said. "We proved to ourselves earlier this year that we can do just that and we have great notes from that race. We are going back with good notes and a great attitude. But even with that, you still have to be in the right spot at the right time to take advantage of that track.

"The Springfield Mile is the Indy 500 for dirt track racing and I think it's pretty special winning that race. My plan is to win but I know everyone else has the same exact plan in mind so it won't be an easy race."

Mees has steadily made improvements in his performances at the Mile. In the first Springfield event in 2006, he finished in eighth place. He finished fourth in the 2006 fall race and earned third place earlier this season.

"I am getting better and more comfortable every time I go to Springfield," Mees said. "It's such a fun event but it can be a chess match more than any other track. Kenny ran away with it earlier this year, but it's not normally like that.

"It's a draft race and usually you are with six other guys and that can help you finish at the top. But if you make one mistake or don't position yourself well, you can find yourself in sixth place in a matter of seconds. I would love to win this race but there are a lot of guys itching to get some wins for their teams that want the same thing."

Smith finished in fourth place earlier this season but is anxious to earn a place on the podium at his favorite track.

"I love the Springfield Mile," Smith said. "The crowd makes it even more fun and it's a fast track. You can actually make up time at this track which is usually impossible anywhere else. You have to tip-toe around a lot of other tracks, but the Springfield track is one of the few places where the harder you ride, the faster you go."

Kopp has been on the Springfield Mile more than any of the other Wrecking Crew riders and he knows teamwork plays a big role in the way riders finish this event.

"Kenny flat out whooped the field at the first race of the year but that was pretty unusual," Kopp said. "You really have to draft for position at this track and if you don't have a drafting partner, it could mean the difference between a top 10 finish and last place.

"The Springfield Mile is such a historic event and everyone wants to win this race. It's eluded me so far in my career but hopefully that will change in just a few days. It's going to be a battle though. Everyone wants the trophy from Springfield."

-credit: se

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Series AMA
Drivers Pat Moro