South Dakota is known for its celebrations of all things motorcycles, and on this special Tuesday night, August 9, it will be a celebration of speed and fierce AMA Pro Flat Track racing in Rapid City on the half-mile oval at Black Hills Speedway.
Defending Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines champion Jared Mees appears to be hitting his stride at just the right time with the 2016 season approaching its homestretch. Mees, who had been chasing Bryan Smith in the GNC1 point standings all season long, finally caught his rival after winning the Charlotte Half-Mile last round.
The No. 1 Las Vegas Harley-Davidson XR750 pilot will return to Sturgis with a scant three-point lead over “Mile Specialist” Smith. With five races remaining on the schedule, two of which are Miles, the GNC1 championship is definitely still up for grabs.
Mees’ second win in the last four races is a surefire indicator that he is dialed in and ready to make a run at his fourth GNC1 championship in the last five years. The Clio, Mich., native has emerged as a powerhouse over the last few years and looks to continue his championship march on Tuesday.
Entering Sturgis without the GNC1 points lead for the first time in months is No. 42 Crosley/Howerton Kawasaki rider Smith. Smith not only surrendered the points lead in Charlotte last round, but he also failed to crack the top ten in the night’s Main Event for the first time all season, due to a malfunction with his steel shoe. The Flint, Mich., native needs to have a strong race in South Dakota to maintain his spot in the points and give himself a shot at winning his first GNC1 championship.
Realistically, if Smith can be within sight of Mees heading into the final two rounds at Springfield and Santa Rosa, he will have a great chance at capturing the title as they are both Mile races, and everyone knows what he’s capable of pulling off on the long tracks aboard his No. 42 Kawasaki Ninja 650.
Brandon Robinson enters Round 10 sitting third in the point standings. The No. 44 Kennedy Racing Harley-Davidson XR750 pilot is having a breakout season competing on all-new equipment. The former Triumph rider made the switch to Harley-Davidson last offseason and it has paid dividends this year.
Jake Johnson continues his impressive 2016 campaign less than a year after he walked away from the sport temporarily. The No. 5 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson XR750 rider sits fourth in the GNC1 point standings and he’ll look to have another strong showing in Sturgis.
Sammy Halbert has had back-to-back weekends to forget in Lima and in Charlotte. The No. 69 Wieblers Harley-Davidson XR750 rider recorded 13th and 18th place finishes at those rounds, respectively, and he will enter Sturgis sitting fifth in the point standings.
Brad Baker will lead the Factory Harley-Davidson charge on Tuesday aboard the No. 6 XR750, as his teammate, No. 67 Davis Fisher, continues to show early promise aboard the new XG750R platform in his rookie GNC1 season. The former GNC2 winner continues to look for his breakout win in the top ranks of the sport.
Kenny Coolbeth Jr., riding the No. 2 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson XR750 and Henry Wiles, pilot of the No. 17 USC Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650 sit seventh and eighth in the GNC1 point standings, respectively, heading into Sturgis.
Ryan Wells continues his Davis Fisher-like performance in the GNC2 class, as he has been nothing short of fantastic all season long. The No. 94B Parkinson Brothers Honda CRF450 pilot holds a 40-point lead in the GNC2 standings, and it doesn’t appear that anyone can stop him.
Dalton Gauthier remains in second in the GNC2 points and he’ll ride the No. 14A DGR Motorsports Yamaha YZF450R on Tuesday.
No. 27U Jamison Minor, No. 92S Brandon Price and No. 36B Kolby Carlile round out the top-five in the GNC2 point standings.
Gates for the Black Hills Half-Mile open at 3:00 p.m. local time, with Opening Ceremonies set to kick off at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at just $30 and are going fast. For additional information, please visit www.blackhillshd.com.
FansChoice.tv will broadcast the entire Black Hills Half-Mile live and in high definition at www.fanschoice.tv/watch-live/ama/flat-track. Coverage will begin with Practice and Qualifying at 5:00 p.m. ET (2:00 p.m. PT). The Pre-Race Show will take place at 7:15 p.m. ET (4:15 p.m. PT), followed by Opening Ceremonies at 8:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. PT) and Heat Races immediately afterwards at 9:00 p.m. ET (6:00 p.m. PT). The GNC2 class will grid up for their Main Event at 10:40 p.m. ET (7:40 p.m. PT) followed by the 18 fastest flat track motorcycle racers in the world at 11:10 p.m. ET (8:40 p.m. PT).