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Scioto Downs: Buckeye National preview

Logjam atop points standings coming into Buckeye National PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- As the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship rumbles back into Columbus, Ohio, for the first time in over 20 years, there's a bottleneck at the top...

Logjam atop points standings coming into Buckeye National

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- As the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship rumbles back into Columbus, Ohio, for the first time in over 20 years, there's a bottleneck at the top of the point standings. The top-five riders are all within seven points of one another coming into round three of the 20-race series this Sunday, April 21 at Scioto Downs. Big news this week was on the injury front. Series leader Johnny Murphree broke his leg in an amateur motocross race just a day after taking the series lead for the first time in his young career by finishing fourth last Saturday in Claremore, Okla.

With Murphree on the sidelines for at least eight weeks the de facto series leader is Kevin Varnes. Varnes finished third at the series opener in Daytona Beach, Fla., in March and eighth last Saturday in Oklahoma and has 27 points coming into Sunday's race. Varnes is one point ahead of Connecticut's Kenny Coolbeth. Daytona winner Richard Winsett Jr. stands fourth with 24 points and last weekend's winner Mike Hacker is fifth with 23. So it's easy to see that any of a number of riders could leave Columbus with the series lead.

Defending series champion Chris Carr is hoping to get into the middle of the points battle in Columbus. Carr, the all-time wins leader among active riders, comes into the race at Scioto Downs 10th in the series after suffering mechanical problems with his bike last week in Oklahoma and finishing an uncharacteristic 15th. Carr is backed by Quality Checked Certified Pre-Owned Ford, which is also co-sponsoring the race at Scioto Downs.

The age-defying Jay Springsteen continues to show good speed. "Springer", who turned 45 on Monday, April 15, took second last week in Oklahoma. He is one of the few current-day riders who was racing when the AMA Grand National Series last raced in Columbus in 1980 at the old Charity Newsies held at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. Springsteen won the old Charity Newsies race in 1976. Springer is also the leading half-mile wins leader among active riders.

Ohio fans will be cheering on home state favorite Jess Roeder of Monroeville. Roeder is the son of Hall of Famer George Roeder, who won the Charity Newsies race in 1965.

In addition to the Grand National, Scioto will host a round of the AMA Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Series. Young Jacob Johnson, of Deptford, N.J., leads that series coming into Columbus after winning the opening round in Oklahoma. Defending champ and last year's AMA Flat Track Rookie of the Year from Flint, Mich., Bryan Smith, is second in the standings.

The riders are eager to compete on the Scioto Downs half-mile oval. It marks the first motorsports event on the classic harness racing facility. Fans should enjoy the amenities of its enclosed clubhouse, covered grandstands and general admission seating to provide a variety of views to see the races. Fans can also take advantage of the outdoor patio or grandstand apron to get close to the racing action.

The race will be taped and broadcast nationally on Speed Channel next month. The Progressive Insurance Grand National final will premier Tuesday, May 7, 10 p.m., with repeats at 3 a.m. on May 7, and 3 p.m. on May 21. The AMA Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance final is set to air at 11 p.m. on May 7, 4 and 11 p.m. on May 21. All times are Eastern. For tickets call Scioto Downs locally at (614) 748-3048 or toll-free (877) 274-1184.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Scioto Downs, Columbus, OH

April 21, 2002

8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. - Registration at the track 8:00 a.m. - 10:10 a.m. - Tech Inspection at the track 10:15 a.m. - Mandatory Riders Meeting 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. - Practice 11:30 a.m. - Qualifying Heats 1:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. - Opening Ceremonies 2:00 p.m. - 2:10 p.m. - 1st Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Heat Race 2:10 p.m. - 2:20 p.m. - 2nd Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Heat Race 2:20 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. - 3rd Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Heat Race 2:30 p.m. - 2:40 p.m. - 1st Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat Race 2:40 p.m. - 2:50 p.m. - 2nd Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat Race 2:50 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. - 3rd Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat Race 3:00 p.m. - 3:10 p.m. - 4th Progressive Insurance Grand National Heat Race 3:10 p.m. - 3:25 p.m. - HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER PERFORMANCE FINAL 3:25 p.m. -3:35 p.m. - Victory Circle for Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Final 3:35 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. - 1st Progressive Insurance Grand National Semi 3:45 p.m. - 3:55 p.m. - 2nd Progressive Insurance Grand National Semi 3:55 p.m. - 4:05 p.m. - 3rd Progressive Insurance Grand National Semi 4:20 p.m. - 4:35 p.m. - AMA PROGRESSIVE INSURANCE GRAND NATIONAL FINAL 4:35 p.m. - Victory Circle for Grand National Final

IN CASE OF INCLEMENT WEATHER, SCHEDULE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE

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Series AMA
Drivers Chris Carr