Defending GNC champ Brad Baker (1) took his first victory of the 2014 season while Jake Johnson (5) finished third and kept his title hopes alive. Defending GNC champ Brad Baker (1) took his first victory of the 2014 season while Jake Johnson (5) finished third and kept his title hopes alive. Photo by Dave Hoenig / courtesy AMA Pro Racing

Baker wins as Mees takes points lead

Written by  on Monday, 29 September 2014 07:49

CALISTOGA, CA - The battle for the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship Expert title took an unexpected turn in Saturday's Ramspur Winery Calistoga Half-Mile at Calistoga Speedway in California's wine country.

Brad Baker took the checkered flag and claimed his first victory of 2014 on the No. 1 Factory Harley-Davidson, but championship leader Bryan Smith was disqualified for failing to heed a black flag after his No. 42 Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio Kawasaki started smoking.

Jared Mees finished second on his No. 9 Rogers Racing Harley-Davidson and will take a 13-point lead over Smith into the final round, the Flat Track Finals at the LA County Fairplex in Pomona, CA, on Oct. 11. 

"It's been an up-and-down season for both me and the team," Baker said. "We knew we had what it took and it was just lining all the pieces together."

Baker started eighth but expertly carved through the field. He was sitting third when Jake Johnson passed Mees for the lead. Baker would eventually make his way around both, then cruise to a 1.634-second victory. 

"I finally got by (Mees) and was able to pick off my own pace," Baker said. "I got by Jake at the end and I just came into my own and starting putting down consistent laps. It feels amazing putting this Harley-Davidson XR750 on top of the box."

Baker's last win before Saturday was the 2013 season finale at Pomona, where he wrapped up his GNC title. It's the third GNC victory of his career.

Smith was running in the top five when his bike started to smoke, bringing out the black flag. He took the checkered running in second position, but the finish was erased because he failed to take his bike off the track.

"It's unfortunate, I know we're in a real big battle, and he and I are good buddies," Mees said.  "I know that wasn't what he wanted to see tonight."

Johnson took third place points on his No. 5 Ramspur Winery Harley-Davidson and kept himself alive in the championship hunt. The Pennsylvanian is 16 points behind Mees and just three in back of Smith.

Sammy Halbert won the Dash For Cash on his No. 7 South East Harley-Davidson, which had an enormous purse thanks to an additional $5,000 provided by Specialty Fabrications. Halbert went on to finish fourth in the main, capping a solid event for the Washington native.

Kenny Coolbeth rounded out the top five on his No. 2 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson.

After coming so close so many times this year, Davis Fisher claimed his first AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles victory of his career. In the process, he catapulted himself back into title contention.

The pilot of the No. 67M T.J. Burnett Farms Honda held off a hard charge from Jarod Vanderkooi on his 17F Johnny's Vintage Motorcycles Honda to finally take the checkered flag. Ryan Foster placed his No. 23Y Thresher Communications Honda third. Before Saturday, Fisher recorded five second place finishes.

"It feels great, I feel like I broke through the wall and I can start moving forward," Fisher said. "If I can maybe win Pomona, that would be awesome.

"I led the whole race, I knew I had Jarod behind me. I just put my head down a little bit."

Kyle Johnson held a 20-point lead over Ryan Wells coming into Calistoga, but crashed out of the main event. Fisher moved into second in the title chase and sits six points back of Johnson. Wells, on the No. 94B KTM, finished 13th and is 16 points behind Johnson, pilot of the No. 77 Parkinson Brothers Racing Honda.

The stars of AMA Pro Flat Track head to Southern California for the Flat Track Finals at the LA County Fairplex on Oct. 11. On-track action is set for 3 p.m. PT (6 p.m. ET) with opening ceremonies scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. PT (9:30 ET). The Pro Singles main event is set to go green at 9 p.m. PT (midnight ET) and the Expert main will follow at 9:30 p.m. PT (12:30 a.m. ET).

AMA Pro Flat Track Expert Main Results (top five)

1. Brad Baker (Harley-Davidson)

2. Jared Mees (Harley-Davidson)

3. Jake Johnson (Harley-Dasvidson)

4. Sammy Halbert (Harley-Davidson)

5. Kenny Coolbeth (Harley-Davidson)

AMA Pro Flat Track Expert points (top five)

1. Jared Mees 260

2. Bryan Smith 247

3. Jake Johnson 244

4. Kenny Coolbeth 208

5. Brad Baker 183

--From AMA Pro Racing

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John Hopkins

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