DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Round one of the AMA Pro Flat Track season heated up quickly on a chilly night on Thursday at the Daytona Flat Track.
Briar Bauman (Rod Lake Racing/Honda) took it the distance as he started on the pole and finished atop the podium. Bauman’s 1.951 second victory over runner-up finisher Sammy Halbert (Vans Yamaha/Yamaha) is the first Grand National win of his career.
“I don’t usually tighten up during a race but when I saw those halfway flags I definitely knew I had a chance to win and felt myself tense up a little bit,” said Bauman. “I’m just glad I could hold on for the full 25 laps and get some points. That’s what it’s all about at Daytona is to work on points. To make it all 25 and earn the win just feels awesome.”
To begin the race, Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (Zanotti Racing/Honda) earned the holeshot but caught a bad break when two riders went down in the back of the pack and caused the red flags to fly. After the restart Coolbeth wasn’t as lucky as he failed to reclaim the lead for the remainder of the race, eventually crashing and finishing 17th.
Bauman took the holeshot after the restart and did nothing but increase his lead the rest of the way.
Coming in second-place was Sammy Halbert. The Dash for Cash winner had an outstanding night on the track and the Graham, Wash. product looks poised for a tremendous bounce-back year in 2014.
Brandon Robinson (USC Kawasaki/Kawasaki) arguably made the best use of his restart card tonight. The Oxford, Penn. native started 11th on the grid before crawling his way to a third-place finish. Mike Rush (Cascioll Rush Racing/Honda) and 2012 Grand National Champion Jared Mees (Montgomeryville Cycle/Honda) closed out the top five.
In AMA Pro Singles action, Ryan Wells (KTM/KTM) came out hot right from the beginning, earning the holeshot after starting from fourth on the grid. Wells continued to build on his lead with every lap that passed and eventually the Albion, N.Y. product went on to win the race by over three full seconds.
“The first day at Daytona I usually struggle quite a bit so to come out here and get the win is huge for me,” said Wells. “I knew I had to have a good start and that I would be forced to make very few mistakes if I wanted to win. I’m just glad I was able to do that and it paid off. Hopefully I’ll be back up here tomorrow night; the goal is to get the sweep.”
Coming in second-place was Justin Jones (Jones Racing/Honda). While Jones never really threatened Wells’ lead, he solidified his runner up finish early on with a 1.203 second gap between him and third-place finisher Brandon Wilhelm (Wilhelm Racing/Honda). Rodney Spencer, Jr. (GP Sports/Honda) and Bronson Bauman (Rod Lake Racing/Honda) closed out the top five.