It’s time to go racing, and for the first time ever, AMA Pro Flat Track will race at the Law Tigers AMA Pro Arizona Mile in Phoenix. The event, scheduled for May 14, will mark the first of six weekends in 2016 that both the Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines and GNC2 classes will compete on a Mile track aboard their fire-breathing twin-cylinder motorcycles.
Sammy Halbert leads the pack of Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines riders into the desert, as his tremendous start to the 2016 AMA Pro Flat Track season has him sitting comfortably atop the point standings. Halbert has hit the podium in all three rounds so far, highlighted by a win at Daytona to kick off the year, and he’ll ride the No. 69 BriggsAuto.com Harley-Davidson in Phoenix with the hopes of extending his lead in the standings.
Zanotti Racing dark horse, Jake Johnson, continues to prove that he’s back and stronger than ever after taking a hiatus from the sport less than a year ago. The two-time GNC1 champion pulled out a Round 2 win at Daytona and followed that up with a fourth-place finish at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin last month, and he’ll look to pilot the No. 5 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson to another strong finish in Phoenix.
Out of all the compelling storylines heading into the inaugural AMA Pro Flat Track race in Phoenix, the majority of eyes are expected to be on the battle between defending GNC1 champion Jared Mees and his counterpart and arch rival, Bryan Smith.
Mees, mounted on the No. 1 Las Vegas Harley-Davidson, bolstered his title defense last month when he took the COTA checkered flag for his first win of the season.
Smith will pilot the powerful No. 42 Crosley Radio Kawasaki Ninja 650 in Phoenix and, per usual, will be the odds-on favorite to earn the first Mile win of the 2016 season. The two-cylinder green machine has been the most dominating motorcycle on Mile circuits over the better part of the last decade, and with a rider as talented as Smith is at the controls, it makes for a lethal combination and presents a frightening challenge for his opponents.
Mees sits third in the GNC1 point standings, while Smith is in fifth after three rounds of action. If Smith can win at least four of the six Mile events this year, as he did in 2015, one has to think he’ll have a legitimate shot at winning his first championship.
Brandon Robinson has put together solid numbers to start the 2016 season, and he enters Round 4 sitting fourth in the standings. The Oxford, Pa., product will pilot the No. 44 Kennedy Racing Harley-Davidson in Phoenix, and it will be his first Mile event aboard the American-manufactured motorcycle since switching from Triumph last offseason.
Perhaps no GNC1 riders are as eager to get to racing in Phoenix as Kenny Coolbeth Jr.and Brad Baker. The fan favorites and typically consistent frontrunners had a weekend to forget at COTA, as both finished outside the top-15 and dropped significantly in the point standings. However, fortunately for them, the season is still young and they still have plenty of time to make up the ground they lost in Texas. Baker will ride the No. 6 Factory Harley-Davidson, and Coolbeth Jr. will pilot the No. 2 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson in Phoenix.
Young gun and GNC1 class rookie, Davis Fisher, will compete aboard the No. 67 Factory Harley-Davidson in Phoenix, which will be his Mile debut at the GNC1 level.
Dominic Colindres is one of three GNC1 riders entered to compete aboard a Yamaha in Phoenix. The 21-year-old finished fifth aboard the No. 66 Babe DeMay Yamaha FZ-07 at COTA and he’ll look to turn in a similar result, or perhaps an even better one, at the Law Tigers AMA Pro Arizona Mile.
Shawn Baer returns to pilot the No. 32 Schaeffers Motorsports KTM LC8 950 in Phoenix, and Jake Shoemaker will ride the No. 55 Bonneville Performance Triumph, making a total of five different manufacturers entered in the GNC1 division.