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The InSlide Line: Week 31

By Tyler Porter

Hello, and welcome to the InSlide Line Presented by Boughner Racing Suspension and Pro Plates. We're live from Sturgis! This column I guess is technically coming to you from Deadwood, but hey, who's counting. Lots to go over this week because as you can guess, a lot went down in Sacramento. Because of how the schedule sits, we will be previewing both Castle Rock and we'll do a quick rev up for the Black Hills Half-Mile also. Rally fever is in the air here, so let's get a check up on our dirt track fever. really has become one of the crown jewels in our sport in the recent years. A great track, well attended, and especially this year, full of racing action. Things got kicked off in a hurry in the Pro Singles class with Nick Armstrong taking the win over James Monaco and Chris Corbari. It wasn't all sunshine and sliding though as Kale Fisher and Dylan Morin went down and brought out the red flag. Nick Armstrong shook off an intense pack however after the restart and took heat number one in dominating fashion. Heat 2 was a flat our run away by your eventual winner Kyle Johnson who crossed the line over 2 seconds ahead of Davis Fisher. Once again though, things were not without drama as Dominic Colindres put some oil on the track which was hit by Nate Wait. Nate went down which brought out the red flag. His day would be over a few laps after he made the restart. While Kyle Johnson did run away from the field in the heat, Davis Fisher was alone in 2nd, but the battle for 3rd was intense between Dominic Colindres, Bronson Bauman and Jarod Vanderkooi. Dominic Colindres would end up winning the battle for 3rd, but that trio would all make it to the main.

The Pro Singles main started in heart break for Rodney Spencer as he had issues on the warm up lap and ended up scratching for the main event. When racing got underway however, it was Davis Fisher who is showing so much talent right now for his age. He brought with him a talented crew though and in the early stages of the race he had Dominic Colindres all over his rear tire. In the early stages of the race there were 9 bikes in a fairly tight group. These 450's are really limited on what they can do on a mile, so it is hard for one rider to break away and to keep a huge lead for very long. At the half-way flags, David Fisher had opened up a huge gap, but like I said, it's tough to keep one for long on the 450's. The biggest problem for Davis is that Kyle Johnson was on the move. He was 7th early on in the race, then tucked into the big battle for 2nd and started a march. On lap 7 Kyle Johnson played the draft perfect to slingshot himself to 2nd. From there it was a full out sprint for the Michigan native to catch Davis Fisher who appeared to be out on a Saturday night stroll aboard the Burnett Farms Honda. One thing I did notice about Davis was that he seemed to be the only rider shifting his bike. Just coming off of the corners I could hear a change in the exhaust note. Most of the 450's will elect to hang out in one gear all the way around, but the added pull off of the corner may have been what gave Davis such an early lead. On lap 10 Kyle Johnson took the lead, but Davis wasn't done fighting yet! The two riders had completely left the field and they were putting on a show!

I have to give it to Davis Fisher. For a rookie, man he is impressing me with his race craft. He played his cards the best he could at such a young age. He led to the white flag, but then let Kyle Johnson pass him going into one. He stayed right with Kyle down the back stretch and he wanted to make Kyle Johnson lead off of 4 so he could draft back by him. His strategy was spot on, but I believe where he messed up was letting Kyle get too much of a lead going into three. He let Kyle get a little too far ahead and then it sort of looked like he may have grabbed too much throttle off of four and lost his drive. The power of the Burnett Farms Honda wasn't quite enough to over take Kyle Johnson but what a race it was. Kyle Johnson was just as, if not more impressive too, I mean he came from WAY back once again to stalk the leader and take the win. If you wonder about the future of dirt track, look at these two racers and I am pretty sure things are looking pretty bright!

Just like the rest of Sacramento, Expert heat number one started with a little drama. Jeffery Carver was having trouble with his clutch on the Ron Wood BMW and Shayna Texter had enough of an issue that she had to go to her back up bike before the start. As the race got under way, it was Kenny Coolbeth who put himself in the early lead. Jared Mees and Kenny would go on to have a great battle with Jared taking the win. In heat number 2 for the Experts it was Bryan Smith who nearly led flag to flag but it wasn't easy as Sammy Halbert and Jake Johnson gave Bryan a run for his money. Jake was riding the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports/Ramspur Winery Kawasaki and finished just .006 behind Bryan at the line! After that exciting race we had a little drama unfold in the Dash for cash when Brandon Robinson went down in turns 3 and 4 with just 2 laps to go. Brandon was banged up, but ok, but would have to ride his back up bike in the main event. Jared Mees was your leader at the start of the dash and when the lights went green with just 2 laps remaining Jared Mees once again jumped out to a nice lead and took a win which put 5 championship points and $1000 in his pocket.

In the main it was Bryan Smith with the holeshot with the fast 5 in tow. I could talk about lead changes and this and that, but the truth is, you don't want to read that much this week. Holy cow was the battle out front intense! Sure, I feel like Bryan had control of the race nearly the entire time, but Jake Johnson took a lead at the front as well as Jared Mees. I was very impressed with Henry Wiles. For the first time that I can recall, he really showed some excellent miling ability. In the early stages of the race he sat back and played a 3 wide draft to a tee and pulled out and used the power of his Don's Kawasaki to take the lead going into one. It was a very impressive move. It was short lived however as he would have a mechanical just one lap later. Hammerin' Hank was looking really REALLY good. At the 10 lap mark the top 5 riders, Mees, Smith, Johnson, Coolbeth and Robinson separated themselves from the field a little bit and it was a battle royale! At the half way mark Stevie Bonsey and Sammy Halbert rode their butts off to catch the lead pack and I'm not really sure how anybody could have been sitting down at this point!

Just after the half-way flags it was bad news for Jake Shoemaker. Not only was Jake battling a lot of sand in his eyes but because of how he made his way into the main event, he didn't have time to fully charge the battery on his Kawasaki. Most of the Kawasaki's on the grid run a total loss ignition system because the stock stator and flywheel hangs far enough off of the side of the bike that it drags the ground in the corners. Really tough break for the privateer effort. While Henry Wile's effort up from was impressive, you have to take a look at the birthday boy Brandon Robinson and give him major kudos. He had a hard crash in the dash for cash, hopped on a back up bike for the main and really charged his way to the front of the field, even briefly taking the lead. Brandon has really found a whole new life since putting a Werner/Springsteen Kawasaki on the box in Indy a few years ago. Now armed with a strong team at USC Kawasaki and great bikes, he is riding excellent. Bryan Smith just had solid control of the race and rode a flawless last lap. Jake Johnson tried all he could with the Lloyd Brother Motorsports Kawasaki to pull out and get a draft, but the Crosley/Villa-Esparza Kawasaki of Smith was too strong. Jared Mees did the Harley Davidson Motor Company proud as he nearly nipped Jake at the line, but came home in third. It was one heck of a race whether you were watching from home on or you were lucky enough to see it live! With the win, not only did Bryan Smith add to his points lead, but he also set a new record for Sacramento Mile wins, now with 4. Bryan was previously tied with Scotty Parker and Chris Carr, who had 3 wins each.

Aside from the racing that really mattered, the promoters of the event put together a 5 lap exhibition race with Jay Springsteen and Chris Carr. Both racers were on XR750's, Jay on a Rogers Racing bike and Chris on a Zanotti Racing machine. Never mind that the two of them are retired, it looked like they were giving it all they had. Jay Springsteen had my jaw on the floor. Chris Carr isn't too far removed from racing, but it's been a while since Jay made it out for a national event. The two battled tooth and nail, swapping positions nearly every corner but it was Jay Springsteen who was running as high up the race track as he could who ended up crossing the line first. I'm telling you, it was amazing racing all night long in Sacramento!

For our Pro and Expert racers, this is the toughest part of the season. Check out where our stars will be and where you can find yourself some racing action this weekend.

Castle Rock, WA TT AMA Pro Grand National
Rapid City, SD Half-Mile AMA Pro Grand National
Billings, MT Half-Mile All-Star Series Event
Sturgis, SD Half-Mile All-Star Series Event
Shippensburg, PA Short Track
Pekin, IL Short Track
Billings, MT Short Track
Perris, CA Short Track PRACTICE
Woodstock, ONT, Canada
Paris, ONT, Canada

Next Weekend the grind continues as we move our AMA Pro Grand National series back East.

Indianapolis, IN Mile AMA Pro Grand National
Indianapolis, IN Short Track Big Money Event!
Reading, PA Short Track
Tar Heel, NC Short Track
Deford, MI Short Track & TT Two Day Event
Fosterburg, IL TT
Ranier, WA Short Track
Paris, ONT, Canada Short Track

We move on this weekend to the Castle Rock TT in Washington. This event is where locals often shine, so don't be surprised to see some unfamiliar names way up in the results! In the Pro Singles class, every rider races with a letter that designates what region they are from. Washington and the surrounding states carry an "M". From looking at the 35 pre-entries for the Castle Rock TT, 11 of them are on home turf. Jacob Lehmann is a past winner here, in fact, he won his first ever pro race at this track. Davis Fisher though is on a roll. Sure, he hasn't won a race yet, but he has been on the podium at every race except for 1. This is his home track, could he be the one to take the checkers? While there is a lot of local talent, you have to look at the series regulars. Dan Bromley is one awesome TT rider. Bronson Bauman is another rider who has awesome TT talent. Levi Mayer from Southern Illinois is making the trip out west for the event and he is very strong on TT courses. Dominic Colindres, Rodney Spencer, Kyle Johnson, they will all be a threat. We also have to see what James Monaco can do now that he got a good dose of confidence in Sacramento last weekend. What about Ryan Kearns? He's a former super moto specialist who could turn some heads. I'm keeping the previews pretty short this week because we are doing two rounds, but there is a lot to watch for!

If I'm making picks this week, which of course I'm going to...I think I'm going to take Dan Bromley this week for the win. Davis Fisher will be strong and finish 2nd and I'll put Kyle Johnson in 3rd. He is just on a roll right now and I'm not too sure you can keep that kid off the podium. I'm taking Jacob Lehmann for 4th and Dominic Colindres 5th. Last week in Sacramento my picks for the Pro Singles class were awful, as usual, so let's see if I can do any better at all. I'm not too sure I can do worse.

In the Expert class, again, tough to call the shots here. Former winners, like Jake Johnson or Sammy Halbert..TT Specialists like Henry Wiles...Awesome everywhere riders like Jared Mees, I mean, where do you even start? I know one thing, this is a round that has two of our top racers worried...Bryan Smith and Brandon Robinson. Bryan has even told me before that when he rolls into Castle Rock his main goal is to get into the main and then just do the best he can; limit the damage. He has a points lead to protect now, but a lot of races ahead on the schedule suit him. Brandon Robinson however put a huge dent in his title hopes last year when he didn't qualify for the main. That has to be weighing on him pretty heavily. Brandon isn't in the title hunt like he was last year, but he isn't far off either. Brandon probably has a similar outlook as Bryan does, make the main, get some points, move on to greener pastures.

One rider we haven't heard much from this year is Brad Baker. This is a home race for him and after ditching his KTM team after Daytona, he will be aboard his self-built Hondas. Is he totally healthy? Hard to tell. One thing is for sure, while he isn't happy with his Harley right now, or at least isn't talking like he is, I know he's comfortable on his Honda. This could be the ride he needs to get back in the game. Like I mentioned in the Pro Singles, this is a local track. What about the locals like Scott Baker? Wyatt Maguire? Eric Beers or even JD Beach? Yes, JD is getting back to the dirt this weekend! Last year's winner Jeffery Carver will be back to prove that his win last year was no fluke. How about the Zanotti Team of Kenny Coolbeth and Stevie Bonsey? I think Stevie may be faster on the TT than Kenny Coolbeth, but the King of Cool is no slouch either. I've gone this far down the list without mentioning Rob Pearson or Mikey Martin too. The overall pre-entry for the Expert class is very slim, but I can assure you that it's full of the best in the game.

Last week in Sacramento my picks were spot on. I haven't picked that well in a long long time, and I'm hoping that FINALLY my luck begin. I mean come on...I had the top 4 DIALED in and I had Sammy Halbert 5th and he was actually 7th with Kenny Coolbeth 5th and Brad Baker 6th. Still...stellar picks if I do say so myself. In Castle Rock though, lots of wild cards can be thrown into play. For one, the locals. Two, a LOT can happen in their very tight first turn, especially with 18th super talented riders all going for the same piece of real estate. Ok, picks....I'm going to take Sammy Halbert for the win here and really just because I won't be able to live with myself if JD Beach wins his first national and I'm not there to see it. Behind Sammy I'm putting Jake Johnson then JD Beach to round out the podium. Jared Mees in 4th and Stevie Bonsey rounds out the top 5. Let's see how I do.

Moving on to the mid-week national in Rapid City South Dakota, we have 23 racers pre-entered for the Black Hills Half-Mile by Dunlop. Yes, that's right, Dunlop is the presenting sponsor of this event. I suppose I'll eat a little more crow and put it out there that maybe they are doing something for our sport. Though, before I get too excited, oh yeah, tire prices are still ridiculous. Anyway, on to the race. The Black Hills Half-Mile by Dunlop is taking place on a high banked car track. While our entry list isn't deep, we still have a lot of talent. Ryan Wells, Kyle Johnson, Dan Bromley, Molly Terry, Brandon Wilhelm, Mikeal Strabel, Bronson Bauman, Nick Armstrong and Davis Fisher. It's a tough crowd as usual in the Pro Singles class!

Picks for this race? Sure, it's a long way off I suppose, but I'm picking Kyle Johnson for the win here. It's just hard not to. I'll put Ryan Wells and Davis Fisher on my podium. Bronson Bauman in 4th and Nick Armstrong in the 5th spot. It's a bummer for Kolby Carlile who broke his collar bone this week and will be out for a little while. I had hopes for The Flying Tomato that he would get his season back on track in Rapid City.

In the Expert Class, you know, it's the usual suspects. It's fun to say the "fast 5" but the truth is, we have a fast 10 that could be in the top 5 or be on the podium any weekend. Brad Baker, Kenny Coolbeth, Jared Mees, Sammy Halbert, Jake Johnson, Bryan Smith, Brandon Robinson, Henry Wiles, Rob Pearson, Stevie Bonsey or Briar Bauman. See, that wasn't even 10, that was 11! I didn't even get to list Dougie Lawrence, Wyatt Maguire, Shayna Texter or Mikey Martin! Right now Jared Mees and Bryan Smith seem to have all of the steam. However, Jake Johnson is repeatedly knocking on the door of a win and if it wasn't for bad luck on Kenny Coolbeth's part, he'd have at least one more win under his belt this season. The Sturgis Rally crowd will be in full force, so we may have a heck of a crowd for a heck of a race.

Picks for this one are tough. Well, they are always tough, but this one especially now that the season is over the half way point and even then, the title could go to about of four different riders. Add in the fact that Bryan Smith and Brandon Robinson both are strong on their Kawasaki's even when they don't have a mile track to stretch their legs and you have a recipe for a tough class to pick from. I'm going to take Kenny Coolbeth for the win here. I was going for Sammy Halbert, but I picked him for Castle Rock and I have to spread the love around a little bit. After Kenny I'm taking Jared Mees, then Sammy Halbert with Jake Johnson and Bryan Smith rounding out your top 5. The picks thing is the hardest thing I do in the column and can be the most rewarding or most hilarious. I hope you are enjoying it!

Well, that's a lot for the column this week. A full race wrap up, and then two previews. We had some rough crashes in Sacramento, Dylan Morin had a nasty get off in the first heat which sent him to the ICU. He is doing better and he has been released from the hospital, but he does have some recovery time ahead of him so keep him in your thoughts. I'm busting it in the Sturgis area selling the world's best windshields for Memphis Shades during the rally here. I will be at Black Hills Harley Davidson in Rapid City under the Drag Specialties awning and we have another location in downtown Sturgis where you can see our product line. If you are in town for the race, come on by and see me, maybe buy a windshield or 20. I'll get you dialed in. Thanks for reading this week and have an awesome weekend!

Best Of's

Best Sledgehammer Operator: Terry Rymer

Wheelie Of The Week: Cole Anderson

Fastest Paint Remover: Jake Johnson