FT: Springfield preview

AMA GRAND NATIONAL SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP ON THE LINE AT SPRINGFIELD PICKERINGTON, Ohio (August 24, 2006) -- The historic Labor Day Weekend AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield,...


PICKERINGTON, Ohio (August 24, 2006) -- The historic Labor Day Weekend AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, on Sept. 2-3, will take on added significance this year. The inaugural AMA Grand National Singles Championship will be determined on the Fairgrounds Short Track on Saturday night.

The deciding final round of the Grand National Singles Championship is just part of the story in Springfield. On Sunday the riders move from their single-cylinder race bikes and the short track over to their big twins and the historic Springfield Mile.

The Labor Day Weekend is the traditional date for the Springfield Mile, one of the most historic racing events in all of AMA racing. Before the establishment of the AMA Grand National Championship in 1954 the winner of Springfield was the national champion.

It's only fitting that the new Grand National Singles title be decided in Springfield.

Suzuki's Jake Johnson leads the Grand National Singles coming into that championship's season finale. Johnson has been a picture of consistency in the series this year, finishing out of the top five only once. The 22-year-old rider from Franklinville, N.J., is one of 12 riders who have won in AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship races this season in a year of remarkable parity.

Johnson's consistency has given him the inside line on winning the Singles title. He needs only a sixth place or better finish to earn the championship. Joe Kopp, the veteran from Mica, Wash., is ranked second 11 points behind Johnson. For Kopp to have his best shot at the title he's going to have to do something he's never done and that's win a national on a short track.

"I've been sitting here for a couple days going over the math," said Johnson, who admits to feeling nervous as the finale approaches. "There's a lot of added pressure on me for Springfield, but I've done well all season and I just have to go in believing I can keep doing what's gotten me in the position to win the championship. Short track races are funny though. You can be the fastest rider on the track and still end up watching the race from the sidelines. My goal is to get into the main clean and then try to have a trouble-free race. JR (Schnabel) has pretty much been the man on Springfield's short track. If he wins I think I only need a top ten finish. So there are a lot of possibilities and it's going to be an intense night, no doubt about that."

Henry Wiles, fresh from winning his third straight Peoria TT, still has at least a mathematical chance at the Singles championship, as does Johnny Murphree and JR Schnabel. All three riders have wins in the books this year.

While the newly formed AMA Grand National Singles will conclude on Saturday night on the Springfield Short Track, the Springfield Mile will be the next-to-last round of the AMA Grand National Twins Championship. Springfield will go a long way in determining who will win this year's title.

Defending series champ Chris Carr leads Kenny Coolbeth by four points in the Grand National Twins Championship with two rounds remaining. Carr is looking to win his third straight and seventh career Labor Day weekend Springfield Mile. A victory at Springfield for Carr would go a long way in putting the Quality Checked Certified Pre-Owned Ford rider in charge of winning his eighth AMA Grand National Championship.

"On paper I may have an advantage going into Springfield, but that's why we race," said Carr, who will be going from Springfield on Sunday to the Bonneville Salt Flats on Monday to make a motorcycle land speed record attempt. "The Springfield Mile is a thinking man's race. On a half-mile a rider with a fast bike and good set up can get away. At Springfield, though, the draft comes into play and having the best bike and even the best set up doesn't guarantee you a win. That's the beauty of this race. You have to know when to pull the trigger and make your move."

Iowan Rich King will be another rider to watch on the Mile. The Harley-Davidson factory rider has twice won the Labor Day Weekend Classic.

For additional information on the Springfield AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship doubleheader weekend call 217-753-8866 or visit

WHAT: The Springfield Short Track and Springfield Mile, rounds 16 & 17 of the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship -- final round of the GNC Singles Championship.

WHERE: Illinois State Fairgrounds, located 2 miles west from Interstate I-55, Sangamon Ave exit (exit 100 B)

WHEN: Sept. 2-3, 2006

SCHEDULE: Saturday -- ST practice, 2:30-4:30 pm; Opening ceremonies, 7:00 pm; Main event, 9:45 pm. Sunday -- Mile practice, 11:15 am; Opening ceremonies, 1:00 pm; Main event, 3:20 pm.

2005 WINNERS: Short Track -- JR Schnabel (Yamaha); Mile -- Chris Carr (Harley-Davidson)

TICKETS: Saturday ST: Advance Adult, $25, Child, $5, Day of race $30. -- Sunday Mile: Advance Adult bleacher, $20. Reserve seat, $25. Child, $5. Day of race, $30.

-credit: ama

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Series AMA
Drivers Chris Carr