SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – When you’re hot, you’re hot. After winning Saturday’s AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Expert Twins main event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Brandon Robinson (TJ Burnett Farms/Kawasaki) proved he wasn’t done yet as the Oxford, Pa. product completed the perfect weekend with another Springfield Mile victory on Sunday to close out the Labour Day weekend doubleheader.
This time, however, victory didn’t come so easy for Robinson, as the 23-year-old had to fend off fierce competitors on every lap in order to clinch his third GNC victory in 2013.
“It was a long, hard-fought battle right from the beginning,” Robinson said. “I was riding the high line towards the end and I knew I needed to get myself in a better position going into the final laps. Once I did, I was leading going down the backstretch on the final lap and I knew if I could just maintain the lead going into turn three, I would be able to hold it after turn four and that’s exactly what I did.
“I had a great bike all weekend and I owe this win to my team. The bike was amazing through the turns and they really made my job easy this weekend. It was back and forth the whole race, which definitely made it a lot more enjoyable for the fans. To do the Springfield double, man, that’s just awesome.”
The 25-lap shootout had so many lead changes and intense battles in the front group that it was almost exhausting to simply watch. Jared Mees (Rogers Racing/Harley-Davidson) got the holeshot to start the race but the Clio, Mich. native wasn’t able to hold the position. Fellow Michigander Bryan Smith (Crosley Radio/Kawasaki) took the point and officially led the first two laps by the narrowest of margins. However, it wasn’t long before eventual winner Robinson would get his first taste of the lead as he ripped it from Smith on lap three.
Over the next several laps, Robinson tried to break away from the pack as he had done in Saturday’s main event but was never able to gain an appreciable gap on the field. On lap seven, six riders were close enough to Robinson’s rear tire that a blanket could have been draped over them all as they crossed the stripe.
Smith would go on to reclaim the lead on lap eight before Robinson stole it right back on lap nine. Robinson’s second stint up front was also short lived, as a charging Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (Harley-Davidson Motor Co./Harley-Davidson) decided it was his turn on lap 10. Coolbeth was only able to hold the lead for a single lap before surrendering it back to Robinson just before the race’s midway point.
Robinson and Smith would go on to exchange blows for the remainder of the race, exchanging the lead six more times before Robinson was able to sail by both Smith and eventual third-place finisher JD Beach (TJ Burnett Farms/Kawasaki) to take the lead for the final time on lap 24. In all, the three race leaders swapped the lead an impressive 12 times.
Robinson’s doubleheader sweep wrapped up a remarkable Labour Day weekend of racing. Smith’s impressive second-place performance was also his second of the weekend and he certainly helped his cause in the Grand National Championship points chase with back-to-back runner-up efforts.
Beach closed out a Kawasaki dominated podium in another strong showing that saw the Philpot, Ky. product clinch his second third-place finish of the weekend.
Coolbeth and Elma, Wash.’s Brad Baker (Dodge Brothers Racing/Harley-Davidson) would go on to finish fourth and fifth, respectively, with newlywed and defending Grand National Champion Mees falling to the rear of the lead pack on the race’s final laps to finish sixth.
Baker was able to protect his overall Grand National Championship points lead, but the gap to second-place Smith has been narrowed to 10. Baker now leads Smith in the championship 184-174. With Sunday’s victory, Robinson passed Henry Wiles (Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/Harley-Davidson) for third in the overall Grand National Championship point standings and sits just three points behind Smith with two rounds of competition remaining.
Robinson’s twin wins in Springfield also made him the champion of the K&N Midwest Challenge. The special award presented by K&N went to the top three points earners from last month’s Peoria TT and this weekend’s doubleheader. The $750 first-place prize went to Robinson (59 points), with the second-place Beach’s 55 points earning him $500 and third-place Baker’s 52 points good for $250.
It’s safe to say that Shayna Texter (Crosley Radio/Kawasaki) owned the Springfield Mile in 2013. Like GNC Expert Robinson, Texter concluded a Labour Day weekend sweep of her own in the debut weekend for the AMA Pro Basic Twins class.
The 22-year-old female phenom took home another win on Sunday, in a demonstration that was just as impressive as Saturday’s 11.452-second win. As she did on Saturday, Texter took the lead on the very first circuit of Sunday’s 12-lap contest and refused to give up any ground to her competition, building on her lead during each of the race’s 12 laps to finish 4.239 seconds ahead of second-place Attica, N.Y. product Cody Johncox (Sunnyside Cycles/Harley-Davidson).
The fans attending the Springfield Mile were treated to an on-track spectacle on Sunday, but it wasn’t in the form of racing. Just prior to opening ceremonies, national fan favourites Mees and Nichole Cheza (Global Products/Harley-Davidson) were married on the front straight of the Springfield Mile. The entire ceremony was streamed live on AMA Pro Live and the recording can be viewed at http://www.amaproracing.com/ft/multimedia/video.cfm?mid=4112.
AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles will visit the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, Calif. on Sept. 29 for the Santa Rosa Mile. For tickets and more information regarding the event, please visit http://www.circlebellmotorsports.com/.
–From AMA Pro Racing