SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Saturday night’s AMA Pro Flat Track presented by J&P Cycles Grand National Expert main event was one for the ages as Crosley Radio’s Bryan Smith (Flint, Mich.) earned his third consecutive Sacramento Mile victory at the Cal Expo.
With nine laps to go, less than a second separated Smith, Dodge Bros Racing’s Brad Baker (Eatonville, Wash.), Flat Track Live’s Sammy Halbert (Graham, Wash.), Roger Racing’s Jared Mees (Honetbrook, Penn.) and TJ Burnett Farms’ Brandon Robinson (Oxford, Penn.) and it would remain that close all the way until the drop of the checkered flag.
“Everything went great for me all day,” said Smith. “I really wanted to get away from the pack and win this thing by a long way. I had it going my way early on but my tire got hot and I started to fade back and eventually got pushed off the groove and found myself in a battle.
“Baker and the rest of the guys really gave me a good run and I knew it would be hard getting around those Harley’s but luckily my Crosley Kawasaki was good on the straightaways and I was able to get by them one final time.”
To no one’s surprise, Smith got the hole-shot and was dominating early on. Then, all of a sudden, with 11 laps remaining, Smith slid off the groove on turn two and forfeited his once dominant lead. Smith’s uncanny mistake opened up the floodgates for Baker and company who seemed to be waiting for that exact moment to capitalize.
Baker enjoyed the lead for less than two laps before defending Grand National Champion Mees took over the top spot. With two laps remaining, the race was literally up for grabs as a split second separated the same five riders. It was Smith who strategically passed all four riders to regain the lead on turn three of lap 24 and refused to surrender any more ground on the final lap.
Mees would go on to finish second just .083 secs. behind Smith with Robinson earning a solid third place finish. The two remaining riders that went bar-to-bar all the way up until the final lap were Baker and Halbert, who rounded out the top five, respectively.
The AMA Pro J&P Cycles Pro Singles race was also one for the record books and in the end it was Crosley Radio’s Shayna Texter (Willow Street, Penn.) who brought the entire Sacramento crowd to their feet on the final lap as she outdueled Stockton Honda-Yamaha’s Nate Wait (Lodi, Calif.) by a fingernail for her second consecutive victory at the Sacramento Mile.
Last year, Texter proved she could hang with the boys when she won the Sacramento Mile for her second career victory at the professional level. This year, she proved resilient as she started from second position on the grid but got off to a nightmare of a start. Texter found herself in sixth place after the first lap and it appeared she had dug herself too deep of a hole to repeat. However, the female phenomenon refused to let her bad jump off the line cost her as she made her way back up to the front.
Wait finished in a close second with Parkinson Brothers Racing’s Stephen Vanderkuur (Davison, Mich.) coming in third.
–From AMA Pro Racing