STOCKTON, Calif. — Saturday night’s AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Championship Main Event displayed an old-fashioned dogfight between Sammy Halbert and Brad Baker at the Stockton Dirt Track.
Two of the sport’s finest riders went neck and neck for the majority of the race and it was Halbert who pulled away with five laps remaining to clinch his first victory of the young season.
“It was just an awesome race,” said an ecstatic Halbert. “Coming off my knee surgery, it’s been a long road of rehab. I’m still not quite 100% healthy but my bike certainly was 100% perfect tonight. I want to say thanks to the California crowd who came out and supported me. It’s always fun racing in this state. My team and I really got a good win here and it’s definitely something to build off of.”
After having missed the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles season opening rounds at Daytona back in March due to a knee surgery, Halbert needed a strong performance tonight to help himself make up ground in the point standings. Starting from pole position, Halbert got the holeshot and the lead but found himself handlebar-to-handlebar with Baker almost immediately. After flip-flopping leads seemingly almost every other lap, it was Halbert who managed to break loose on the 20th lap and open up his biggest lead of the night, and eventually winning by almost a full second over Baker.
So far in 2013, Baker is no stranger to finishing in second place, as the Dryad, Wash. product has been runner-up in all three main events this season.
The most shocking and disappointing headline of the night was Jared Mees and his 16th place finish in the main event. After claiming victory in Heat 2 as well as the Dash for Cash, Mees skidded off the groove early on and found himself in dead last for the majority of the race. The defending Grand National Champion surely had his hopes set a lot higher and will have to rebound in two weeks when the series heads to Springfield, Ill.
Henry Wiles started third on the grid and that’s exactly where he would finish to secure the final spot on the podium. Jake Johnson and Robert Pearson rounded out the top five.
Wyatt Maguire ripped the lead from Shayna Texter early on and went on to clinch his first career main event victory. Maguire looked sharper than ever Saturday night as he put himself in a completely different area code than his competitors for the majority of the race, winning by more than four full seconds.
“It was definitely tough getting through the field but we ended up changing gears and it helped a lot,” said Maguire. “It feels incredible to pull off my first ever victory here in Stockton. I need to thank my family and all of my sponsors, without them I would never have the opportunity to experience something like this. I also want to thank the crowd for coming out; it’s truly a pleasure racing so close to my hometown.”