PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. (May 1, 2010) - Harley-Davidson Screamin' Eagle® factory rider Kenny Coolbeth finished third aboard a Harley-Davidson XR-750 motorcycle in the opening race of the 2010 AMA Grand National Twins series on the Yavapai Downs Mile. The race was won by Joe Kopp on an American Agip/Lloyd Brothers Ducati. Halbert/Woody Kyle Racing rider Sammy Halbert finished second on a Harley-Davidson.
Coolbeth finished second in his heat race to transfer to the main, and was second behind Halbert in the three-lap Dash for Cash bonus race. The main event was stopped on a red flag before the first lap was completed because dust hanging in the air behind the riders limited visibility. While the riders waited for a re-start, the track was watered and the main was shortened from 25 to 20 laps.
Kopp took the lead on the restart and by lap four had opened a gap of 0.92 seconds on Zanotti Racing rider Jake Johnson, Halbert, Chris Carr of Chris Carr Racing, and Coolbeth. Halbert closed the gap on lap seven and passed Kopp for the lead on lap eight, pulling away from a string of riders, with Coolbeth dropping back to fifth place and more than five seconds behind Halbert by lap 13. Halbert was leading Kopp by more than 2.5 seconds and seemed ready to ride unchallenged to victory. On lap 17, Coolbeth passed Carr and Blue Springs Harley-Davidson rider Jared Mees to jump from fifth to third place, and closed to within 3.3 seconds of the leaders.
Kopp also began to move up on lap 17, as Halbert's lap times began to slowly increase. Kopp closed to within 0.23 seconds at the end of lap 19, and the veteran and former Grand National champion drafted past Halbert on the last lap of the race and held on to win by just 0.024 seconds. Coolbeth held off the charging Mees to take third place by just 0.006 seconds.
"That was a nice come-back for the Screamin' Eagle team," said Coolbeth. "We were quite a way back until I figured out a better line through the turns. I actually watched what Chris Carr was doing, and changed my line up towards the middle of the track and was able to carry more momentum through the corners. I got by Carr in turn one-two, and then drafted past Mees to get on the podium. That's a good way to start the Twins season, on a track where we've never raced before."
This was the first Grand National event held at Yavapai Downs, a one-mile horse-racing track, and Coolbeth was impressed with the facility.
"You are in the desert so the track is going to be sandy," said Coolbeth. "This was a really technical track as far as finding the best line. It was a little dusty, and we were looking right into the sun in turns three and four, which added to the challenge. They did a great job prepping the track and there was a big crowd. We were happy to be racing here."
The Grand National Twins series will end its season at Yavapai Downs on Oct. 10.
Despite finishing second, Halbert will leave Arizona with the Grand National Twins series lead thanks to bonus points earned in the Dash for Cash and for setting fastest lap in qualifying. After one event in the 12-race Grand National Twins series, Halbert has 24 points. Kopp is second with 23 points, followed by Coolbeth with 20 points and Mees with 18 points.
The AMA Grand National Twins will next race on May 29 on the Springfield Mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill.
Screamin' Eagle Performance Parts are inspired by and built in the spirit of the raw adrenaline and power of motorcycle racing. Screamin' Eagle Pro parts are specifically designed for race-use applications, while Screamin' Eagle parts offer street-use performance options for the Harley-Davidson motorcycle owner. Visit www.harley-davidson.com for more information.
The Screamin' Eagle Flat Track team is sponsored by Matco Tools.