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2002 AMA National Speedway Championship Series

AMA - Announcement
Billy Hamill - Injury Report
Greg Hancock - Illness
Starting Positions
Round 1 - San Bernardino
Round 1 - LA Times
Round 2 - Auburn
Round 3 - Auburn

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Round 3 of the 2002 AMA National Speedway Championship.

Following Round 1 down in San Bernardino and Round 2 in Auburn, back in August, this was the third and final round of the 2002 AMA National Speedway Championship.

Series totals after 2 rounds:
SB Au Tot
Greg Hancock 16 20 36
Billy Hamill 21 14 35
Billy Janniro 18 16 34
Mike Faria 9 19 28
Eddie Castro 14 10 24
Scott Brant 12 11 23
Chris Manchester 11 12 23
Ryan Fisher 10 8 18
Bart Bast 6 9 15
Josh Larsen 7 7 14
Bobby Schwartz 4 4 8
Gary Hicks 8 - 8
Tommy Hedden 5 2 7
Alan Christian - 6 6
Bobby Hedden 1 5 6
Eric Carrillo 3 1 4
Chris Kerr - 3 3
Randy Difrancisco 2 - 2

This final round of the National Championship was held under cooler conditions than the previous round. Although its still hot during the day, the evenings are now down to more comfortable temperatures. About an hour before the races, a fine mist came the stadium, making some of us wonder if the track had perhaps been overwatered. No problem, the track was fine and more water was added as the night went on. General feedback from the racers was that the track was fine, although there was little traction on the outside, making over taking unpredictable.

First came the announcement that Greg Hancock, series leader was suffering from bronchitis and was unable to make the trip back. But with Hamill and Janniro only 1 and 2 points behind, Greg's chances of overall victory were by no means certain.

The format for the series has been a regular championship format, followed by A B C and D finals. The whole thing came down to the last race, the A final.
Unofficial results:

Preliminary qualifier races
Heat 1:
1. Bobby Hedden
2. Ivan Sevart
3. Billy Hiles
Eric Carrillo is still suffering from a broken wrist from the round 2.

Heat 2:
1. Bryan Yarrow
2. Chris Kerr
3. Randy Difrancesco
4. Bobby Krips

Heat 3:
1. Randy Difrancesco
2. Bobby Krips
3. Billy Hiles

Heat 4:
1. Bobby Hedden
2. Bryan Yarrow
3. Chris Kerr
4. Ivan Sevart

Heat 5:
1. Ivan Sevart
2. Bobby Krips
3. Randy Difrancesco

This made the 2 qualifiers for the open places Bobby Hedden and Bryan Yarrow. Greg Hancock's place was filled by Chris Kerr. Ivan Sevart was first reserve, Bobby Krips second reserve.

Points scored: 1 2 3 4 5 T
Billy Janniro 3 3 2 3 3 14
Bobby Hedden 2 3 3 2 3 13
Billy Hamill 3 3 1 3 3 13
Mike Faria 3 2 3 1 3 12
Scott Brant 1 1 2 2 2 8
Chris Manchester 1 3 0 3 2 9
Bart Bast 2 2 1 2 1 8
Eddie Castro 1 2 3 0 2 8
Alan Christian 3 0 0 2 2 7
Brian Yarrow 0 2 3 1 1 7
Josh Larsen 2 0 1 3 0 6
Tommy Hedden 2 1 2 0 1 6
Ryan Fisher 0 1 2 1 0 4
Gary Hicks 1 1 1 - - 3
Chris Kerr 0 0 0 1 1 2
Bobby Schwartz 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ivan Sevart

0 points from 3 rides

Bobby Krips

0 points from 2 rides

Heat 1: Christian, Bast, Hicks, Schwartz
Hicks lifted badly at the gate and lost ground. Christian took the lead and kept it. Hicks got past Schwartz

Heat 2: Janniro, T. Hedden, Brant, Fisher
Janniro got the gate and pulled away to leave the other 3 to battle hard for the remaining places. Tommy Hedden lead from the gate, but Scott Brant was determined to get past him. At this stage the track had little traction on the outside and although Brant was able to pull alongside Hedden, there was not the traction to get past. Meanwhile, Fisher was trying to get through on the inside. At the end of 3 laps of this, Brant finally established second place, but drifted too wide and went to last, while Ryan Fisher actually got through on the inside. But entering turn one the final time Fisher found his motorcycle coming too far round and fell, so Tommy Hedden kept second.

Heat 3: Faria, B. Hedden, Castro, Kerr
Faria got the gate and left Hedden and Castro to fight for second which they continued to do all four laps.

Heat 4: Hamill, Larsen, Manchester, Yarrow
Billy Hamill started again with an explosive gate, establishing a safe lead. The rest played follow the leader. 

Heat 5: B. Hedden, Yarrow, T. Hedden, Schwartz.
Bobby Hedden from the gate.

Heat 6: Hamill, Bast, Fisher, Kerr
Another dynamite gate for Billy Hamill, ahead of Coventry team mate Fisher. Bart Bast managed to get past Fisher for second.

Heat 7: Manchester, Castro, Brant, Christian
Chris Manchester got the gate. Christian fell on the third lap.

Heat 8: Janniro, Faria, Hicks, Larsen
Janniro got the gate, with Faria chasing. Larsen got overhauled by Hicks.

Heat 9: Castro, Fisher, Larsen, Sevart
Bobby Schwartz found traction coming out of the gate and looped it, something I have never seen him do before. In the re-run he was replaced by Sevart where Castro got the gate and the procession followed.

Heat 10: Faria, T. Hedden Bast Krips.
Tommy Hedden looped it around the same place as Bobby Schwartz had in the previous race. Chris Manchester ran into him and also fell. In the rerun Chris touched the tapes. Chris's place in the rerun was taken by Krips. In the third attempt to run the race Faria and Bast were first from the gate, but Tommy Hedden found his was past Bart.

Heat 11: Bobby Hedden, Janniro, Hamill, Christian
The best race of the night, at least for Bobby Hedden. Janniro got the gate and took Billy Hamill out wide, while Hedden slipped through on the inside. Janniro spent 4 laps trying to catch Hedden, while holding the ex World Champ back. Neither an easy task. Again, Christian fell in last place.

Heat 12: Yarrow, Brant, Hicks, Kerr
3 weeks after his 18th birthday Bryan Yarrow got the gate with Chris Kerr close behind, holding back seasoned veterans Brant and Hicks. Brant got past Kerr, but was unable to pass Yarrow. On the last lap Kerr ran into the wall at the exit of turn 2, and took out Hicks. Hicks went down hard but was awarded third place. I am sure he would have preferred fourth without the pain.

Heat 13: Hamill, Brant, Faria, Schwartz
Another runaway victory for Hamill. Faria tried to get around Brant, without success.

Heat 14: Janniro, Bast, Yarrow, Castro
Janniro and Castro got the gate, but Castro found traction in turn 2 and hit the wall hard. Miraculously, he suffered only a cut leg and a banged up toe. Sevart replaced him in the rerun, which was won from the gate.

Heat 15: Larsen, Christian, Kerr, T. Hedden.

Heat 16: Manchester, B. Hedden, Fisher, Sevart.

Heat 17: Janniro, Manchester, Kerr, Schwartz.

Heat 18: B. Hedden, Brant, Bast, Larsen

Heat 19: Faria, Christian, Yarrow, Fisher

Heat 20: Hamill, Castro, T. Hedden, Krips

The points made the separation for the 4 groups easy.

D Final: Schwartz, Kerr.
Bobby Schwartz maintained his consistent form throughout the series of winning the D main. Fisher and Hicks were non starters. Ryan told me after the meeting, he had no excuses. No engine problems, he just had a bad night. I assume Gary did not ride after his fall.

C Final: Yarrow, Christian, Larsen, T. Hedden.
Bryan Yarrow made another great gate and ran off with this race. Behind him Larsen and Christian swapped second place, back and forth.

B Final: Castro, Brant, Manchester, Bast.
Despite his crash earlier, Eddie won the B main. Manchester got the gate, and lead from turn one, but over the next 4 laps slipped to third.

A Final: Hamill, B. Hedden, Janniro, Faria
The first time out Janniro and Hamill gated, but Janniro hit the wall on the exit of turn 2, in spectacular fashion. In the rerun, Billy Hamill made no mistake and got out in front. Janniro was second and tried getting round the outside of Hamill. The next result was losing second place to Bobby Hedden.

Series totals after 3 rounds:
SB Au Au Tot
Billy Hamill 21 14 20 55
Billy Janniro 18 16 19 53
Mike Faria 9 19 14 42
Eddie Castro 14 10 12 36
Greg Hancock 16 20 - 36
Scott Brant 12 11 11 34
Chris Manchester 11 12 10 33
Bart Bast 6 9 9 24
Bobby Hedden 1 5 18 24
Josh Larsen 7 7 6 20
Ryan Fisher 10 8 0 18
Alan Christian - 6 7 13
Bobby Schwartz 4 4 4 12
Tommy Hedden 5 2 5 12
Gary Hicks 8 - 0 8
Chris Kerr - 3 3 6
Eric Carrillo 3 1 - 4
Randy Difrancisco 2 - - 2

So Billy Hamill retained his 2002 AMA National Championship title. The series rewarded consisten performance more than a one night event, particularly since one of the rounds was on another track. Second man Janniro was also second last year. But this year he was only second by 2 points and the series included a couple of races where Janniro finished ahead of Hamill. Billy Janniro has improved so much with his European experience, he is really now in a class above the US based riders. Third place last year went to Ryan Fisher. This year, veteran Mike Faria took it back, but the points gap is significant of the strides that Janniro has made.

Well as I always state at this time of the year, apart from the USA vs. The World on November 1, Northern California is back into the cultural vacuum again till next May. So I am back to the difficult task of finding other things to do. Last weekend after living in the US for 20 years, I tried my first game of American Football. Well, at the risk of upsetting some people, I will go on. First, it's a lot closer to rugby than football, but it's so slow. I was really impressed with the protective clothing they were wearing, they are better protected than most Speedway riders. But the real thing that prevents me getting into this sport is the cost. $20 car park, $60 admission, $7.50 beer, Speedway is such a bargain!!!

Sep 18, 2002

Greg Hancock will miss Friday night's AMA National Championship third and final round at Auburn.  Greg has bronchitis and has been suffering with illness since the Grand Prix in Gothenburg, Sweden.  www.GregHancock.com

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Billy Hamill Injury Report

From The Coventry Website:

Hamill joined Jonsson on the casualty list after crashing in the American National Championship round at Auburn on Friday.  He wrote off a bike in demolishing a couple of fence panels when he locked up on a wet patch on the track, and was hit from behind.  The force of the impact scattered people in the pits as he crashed through the

Though he took part in the re-run on one of Chris Manchester's bikes, and also took his place in the A final (finishing last), Hamill was driven straight to hospital at the end of the meeting.  He had both a CAT scan on his head, and numerous other X-rays, and though they revealed a compressed fracture of the first lumbar vertebra (L1), the doctors were unsure whether it was a new or old injury because there was so much soft tissue damage to his back.

Hamill, who was complaining of a severe headache, as well as a badly bruised stomach, chest, shoulders and neck, is seeing a specialist later this week to ascertain whether the fracture was a new injury.

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Round 2 of the 2002 AMA National Speedway Championship

Friday August 16, 2002 Auburn, California (By Gary Roberts)

Greg Hancock won this second round of the National Championship in Auburn, CA, ahead of Mike Faria, Billy Janniro and Billy Hamill.  For the series total, this puts Hancock into the lead by a single point over Hamill.  The third and final round will be held again in Auburn, on September 20.

The evening included a couple of fairly horrific accidents.  Nobody was too injured to come back in re-runs, but I am sure that more than a couple of riders will be pretty sore in the morning.

The format adopted for the series includes a pre-event qualifier to fill two floating positions and two reserve spots, on the 16 rider format.  At the rider's meeting it was announced that Gary Hicks would not be riding, on medical advice.  This meant that the first reserve automatically filled Hicks' place, so the pre-event qualifier was opened up for 3 places not 2, plus 2 reserves.

Unofficial results:

Wildcard Heat 1
1. Bobby Hedden
2. Bryan Yarrow
3. Ivan Sevart
4. Bobby Krips

Wildcard Heat 2
1. Alan Christian
2. Chris Kerr
3. Randy Difrancesco
4. Billy Hiles

Wildcard Elimination Heat
1. Randy Difrancesco
2. Billy Hiles
3. Ivan Sevart
4. Randy Krips
Ivan Sevart was unlucky in this race.  He had a healthy lead when Krips and Difrancesco collided, stopping the race. Krips was disqualified from the re-run, Sevart got a rotten start and finished last.

Wildcard Final (qualifier race for the 3 places)
1. Alan Christian
2. Bobby Hedden
3. Chris Kerr
4. Bryan Yarrow
Bryan Yarrow, who has done outstandingly well at Auburn this year fell, leaving the other 3 with easy qualifying places.

Wildcard Heat 5
1. Randy Difrancesco
2. Billy Hiles
3. Bryan Yarrow
Yarrow again fell, Difrancesco went home and Hiles was left as the only reserve.

Heat 1: Castro, Janniro, Carrillo, T. Hedden
Following his A final result on Wednesday, Eddie Castro started off his evening with an advantage from the gate, which he maintained for 4 laps.

Heat 2: Faria, Hancock, Bast, Fisher
Greg Hancock made the gate but somehow between there and the exit of turn 2, Faria and Bast got past him.  It took him the rest of the race to regain second place from Bast.

Heat 3: Manchester, B. Hedden, Christian, Kerr
Manchester got the gate and Hedden and Christian rode side by side for 2 laps, until Hedden established an advantage.

Heat 4: Hamill, Larsen, Brant, Schwartz
Billy Hamill started the way he finished on Wednesday with an explosive gate, establishing a safe lead. Larsen and Brant followed. The start of an evening for Bobby Schwartz that I am sure he would prefer to forget. This time he fell in turn 4 on the first lap.

Heat 5: Brant, Castro, Fisher, Manchester
Brant got the gate, followed by Castro. Manchester got moved wide in turn 1 and fell.   He was slow to get up, but no-nonsense-referee, Steve Lucero did not turn on the red light and the race continued.

Heat 6: Hamill, Bast, Bobby Hedden, Carrillo
Again Hamill established a big lead early on and left Bast and Hedden to fight it out. Bobby was all over Bart's back wheel, but was unable to get around him.

Heat 7: Faria, Christian, T. Hedden, Schwartz
Alan Christian showed form chasing Mike Faria, while Bobby Schwartz's race finished when he fell, first lap, in turn 1.

Heat 8: Janniro, Hancock, Kerr, Larsen
Josh Larsen got pushed wide in turn 1 and never recovered.  Janniro got a rocket start, with Hancock in close pursuit.  Greg was all over him for 4 laps, with no result.

Heat 9: Castro, Bast, Larsen, Christian
In the first attempt to run this race, Castro and Christian's bikes got locked together entering turn 1 and they went down.  In the rerun, Christian fell, while Bast took a runaway lead, chased for 4 laps by a very determined Castro.  In their approach to the finishing line Castro found traction and won by inches.

Heat 10: Fisher, Kerr, Carrillo, Schwartz
After a disappointing one point from 2 rides, Ryan Fisher got a win.  Chris Kerr, got a well deserved second place and Bobby Schwartz completed four laps.  Imagine his thoughts, riding round watching 3 teenagers, in front of him, where is the respect for their elder!!!

Heat 11: Hancock, Manchester, T. Hedden, Hiles. Hamill disqualified.
This was the turning point in Billy Hamill's evening.  He made his usual killer start, and lead for ¾ of a lap, but then found traction coming out of turn 4.  He lifted a bit, got it back down, but Greg Hancock got under him. Going into turn 1 Greg was on the inside and Billy fell. The referee disqualified Billy.  Obviously someone had to be penalized for stopping the race, and Billy looked out of control before falling, so he was replaced by Billy Hiles, the reserve, for the re-run.  This time, Greg made it from the gate, followed by Manny and Tom Hedden.

Heat 12: Faria, Janniro, Brant, Hiles, B. Hedden disqualified.
Faria and Brant made great starts, leaving Janniro and Hedden to follow.  Entering turn 3, Hedden and Janniro collided, Janniro falling awkwardly.  The race was stopped and Hiles was brought in for Bobby Hedden.  In the re-run, Faria again made a great start, this time followed by Janniro. Brant took third.

Heat 13: Hamill, Faria, Castro, Kerr.
Another runaway victory for Hamill.

Heat 14: Hancock, Bast, Christian, Carrillo
A relatively easy one for Greg from the gate.

Heat 15: Fisher, B. Hedden, Larsen, T. Hedden.
After some fairly fierce competition in his first 2 races, this second win was easier for Fisher.  Josh Larsen was at this stage clearly having an off night.

Heat 16: Janniro, Manchester, Bast, Schwartz.
Chris Manchester got the gate, but Janniro got past him before the end of the first lap.

Heat 17: Castro, Hancock, B. Hedden, Schwartz.
Again, a determined Eddie Castro got the gate and by the exit of turn 2, Hancock was in third place.  On the third and fourth turns he got past Hedden, but failed to make an impression on Castro.

Heat 18: Faria, Manchester, Larsen, Carrillo.
Manchester got the gate, but Faria passed him to take his fourth win and pick up a series bonus point for the position of top points scorer.

Heat 19: Brant, Bast, Kerr, T. Hedden.
In the first corner Chris Kerr fell and the race was restarted.  First corner bunching perhaps?  Brant got a terrific gate to win the re-run.

Heat 20: Hamill, Janniro, Fisher, Christian.
Coventry vs. Alan Christian?  Right, with a predictable result.
In the first attempt to run the race, Christian fell before turn one.  More first corner bunching?  All back for the re-run.  This time it was Hamill, Janniro, Fisher, Christian, until Ryan went wide in turn 2, on the third lap, but recaptured it before the chequered flag.

So after the points scoring races, Faria was out in front with 14, while Hamill, Hancock, Castro and Janniro all shared second place with 12.   There was a run off for these four, to see who would NOT race with Faria in the A main.  Castro got the gate, but in turn one was brought down from behind. He landed hard, Hamill, who was behind him went, with his bike, hard into the wall demolishing 2 panels.  Both riders were down for several minutes, but recovered for the re-run.   Hamill's bike was unusable, so he came out on Manchester's bike.  Castro, still very shaken was the loser and got relegated to the B final.
Next came the D final.

D Final: Schwartz, Kerr, T. Hedden, Carrillo
This time it was Carrillo's turn to fall hard in turn 1.  He was down for several minutes, but again was back in the rerun.  Second time out, Schwartz salvaged one win from the evening, which will keep him in the third round.

C Final: Fisher, Larsen, Christian, B. Hedden.
Ryan made the gate, pursued by Larsen.  Bobby Hedden continued his disappointing evening, with a bad gate.  At one stage he got ahead of Christian, but returned to fourth position at the end.

B Final: Manchester, Brant, Castro, Bast.
I could not help but feel bad for Eddie Castro. He was equal second place points scorer, but following the horrendous accident in the points tie breaker got pretty shaken up. In the B main he made a less than good start, and trailed in fourth. He managed to salvage third place from Bart in the latter stages.

A Final: Hancock, Faria, Janniro, Hamill
The first time the tapes came up, the red light came on immediately after.  I heard that both Hamill and Hancock moved at the start, and the referee would not disqualify them both, so the race was restarted.  It was a fast, close race.  We will never know for sure, what happened to Billy Hamill in this race.  After superb gates for the earlier part of the evening, after walking away with the first round with 6 perfect gates and 6 perfect wins, this time he watched Hancock get the gate, while he got a mediocre start, then he spent the race getting sandwiched between Faria and Janniro and was unable to pull ahead from them, until he was finally relegated to fourth place.  Was he still suffering from the altercation with the wall, did his borrowed machinery have less power than his own engine?
What ever happened, the result was a win for Greg, a fast second for Mike, and third for hard-battling Billy Janniro.

So ends the second round of the 2002 AMA National Speedway Championship, Round 2.

Points scored: 1 2 3 4 5 T
Eddie Castro 3 2 3 1 3 12
Eric Carrillo 1 0 1 0 0 2
Tommy Hedden 0 1 1 0 0 2
Billy Janniro 2 3 2 3 2 12
Ryan Fisher 0 1 3 3 1 8
Bart Bast 1 2 2 1 2 8
Mike Faria 3 3 3 2 3 14
Greg Hancock 2 2 3 3 2 12
Chris Manchester 3 0 2 2 2 9
Bobby Hedden 2 1 0 2 1 6
Alan Christian 1 2 0 1 0 4
Chris Kerr 0 1 2 0 1 4
Scott Brant 1 3 1 2 3 10
Billy Hamill 3 3 0 3 3 12
Bobby Schwartz 0 0 0 0 0 0
Josh Larsen 2 0 1 1 1 5


Series totals after 2 rounds:
SB Au Tot
Greg Hancock 16 20 36
Billy Hamill 21 14 35
Billy Janniro 18 16 34
Mike Faria 9 19 28
Eddie Castro 14 10 24
Scott Brant 12 11 23
Chris Manchester 11 12 23
Ryan Fisher 10 8 18
Bart Bast 6 9 15
Josh Larsen 7 7 14
Bobby Schwartz 4 4 8
Gary Hicks 8 - 8
Tommy Hedden 5 2 7
Alan Christian - 6 6
Bobby Hedden 1 5 6
Eric Carrillo 3 1 4
Chris Kerr - 3 3
Randy Difrancisco 2 - 2

Where does that leave those who must re-qualify next time I am not sure.  My understanding was that it was worked on total points, which means that either Bobby Hedden or Alan Christian would qualify for the 14th position.   More on that later.

The crowd was not the biggest I have seen at Auburn.  The Civil War and the one night National Championship seems to attract bigger crowds.  The track was good.  It was smooth, no ruts, no clumps of dirt, and like Wednesday at San Bernardino, I witnessed hand-watering taking place.  This old English tradition seems to be catching on, with great results!

Next week will be the final point scoring event of the season (where did the summer go?) then the Track Championship & Youth National Championship, then nothing, until September 20.

Gary Roberts - groberts@iee.org

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Round 1 of the 2002 AMA National Speedway Championship

August 15, 2002 San Bernardino, California (By Ryan Evans)

Billy "The Bullet" Hamill turned in an immaculate performance by winning all his races, including the A Final, to capture round one of the AMA National Championship Series at Arrowhead Motor Speedway in San Bernardino on Wednesday.

Hamill's perfect score allowed him to have first choice of starting position in the A Final and the former World Champion chose gate two.  1997 World Champion Greg Hancock, Billy Janniro, and Eddie Castro each scored 12 points to get into the A Final, but Hancock had second choice because he defeated the other two riders and he selected gate three.  Janniro picked next and he decided to start from gate one, leaving Castro with the outside.

When the tapes went up Hamill exploded into the lead and then clamped down on the pole in turn one, which held up Janniro, while Hancock went to the outside.  Hamill pulled away exiting turn two and Janniro had his hands full with Hancock, who remained on the outside line.  Hamill was comfortably in front after one lap while Janniro was doing everything he could to fight off Hancock.  Hamill opened up ground with each lap while the battle for second continued.  At the checkered flag it was Hamill with his sixth, and most important, victory of the night.  Janniro held off Hancock for second and Castro had to settle for fourth.

The win gave Hamill a leg up on the competition as he is seeking his third US title and the first back-to-back winner since Kelly Moran in 1984.   Hamill earned 20 series points for the A Final victory plus a bonus point for being the top scorer after five rounds for a total of 21 points.  Janniro's second place gives him 18 series points, Hancock earned 16 points, and Castro received 14.

The B Final had 2001 Arrowhead Track Champion Ryan Fisher on the pole, two-time National Champion Chris Manchester in two, three-time champion "Flyin" Mike Faria in gate three, and current Arrowhead points leader Scott Brant on the outside.

Faria's race was over before it got started as he was excluded by referee Steve Lucero for touching the tapes.  The three remaining riders re-staged and it was Manchester who took the lead at the start.  Manchester ran a tight and fast inside line, but Brant was working the outside line and pulled alongside the leader on the second lap.  Brant took the lead at the completion of the second lap and immediately went to the pole.  Brant held on to the lead and won the B Final with a spectacular effort that was rewarded with a standing ovation.  Manchester finished second, Fisher was third, and Faria was credited with fourth.

The lineup for the C Final from inside to outside was Gary Hicks, Josh Larsen, Bart Bast, and Tommy Hedden.  Hicks was first to turn one followed by Larsen and then Bast. Larsen tried to get under Hicks on the back straight, but Hicks wouldn't have any of that.  It was the closest that Larsen would get as Hicks opened up a comfortable lead and cruised to the victory.  Larsen was second, Bast was third, and Hedden was fourth.

The D Final brought to the tapes, from inside to outside, Bobby Hedden, Eric Carrillo, Bobby Schwartz, and Randy DiFrancesco.  The finishing order in the D Final is important because third and fourth would have to go through the dreaded qualifying races at the second round of the series while first and second would be seeded into the field. 
With the pressure on, "Boogaloo" came up big as he took the lead.  Hedden did a 360 degree turn and when he straightened up the field was gone.  Carrillo stayed right on the back tire of Schwartz but the wily veteran would succumb to the pressure as he took the win followed by Carrillo.  DiFrancesco and Hedden finished third and fourth, respectively, and will have to go through the qualifying races in round two.

The format for the evening had 14 riders seeded into the championship part of the program.  Eight riders participated in a five-race qualifying round to determine the final two positions in the field and the two reserves.

Preliminary race one had Bryan Yarrow, Bobby Krips, Randy DiFrancesco, and Billy Hiles.  To have a chance at being in the field, the riders had to finish first or second. Third and fourth would only give you a chance at being reserve.   Yarrow jumped into the lead and rode four perfect laps to get the win.   DiFrancesco finished second and would join Yarrow in preliminary race four, but he earned it by passing Krips on the second lap. Krips and Hiles would come back at race three for a chance at a reserve slot.

Preliminary race two had 1985 National Champion Alan "Crazy" Christian, back this year after a nine year retirement and making his first appearance at Arrowhead, on the pole, Chris Kerr in gate two, Tommy Hedden in gate three, and Ivan Sevart on the outside. Christian thrilled the crowd by taking the lead and running away with the win. Hedden fought past Kerr to get second, Kerr was third, and Sevart was fourth.

Preliminary race three was sudden-death as only the top two would move on for a chance at the reserve spot.  It was Krips who took the lead and ran away with the win while Sevart finished second and would join in him in preliminary race five.  Kerr and Hiles finished, third and fourth, respectively, and were done for the evening.

Preliminary race four was the most important race of the round as the top two joined the field while third and fourth would come right back out and could only earn for a reserve spot.  Christian was first followed by Yarrow on lap one.  The two riders had quite a battle going when they went down in turn one on the third lap.  Yarrow was excluded as the cause of the red flag.  The second start got as far as turn one as Christian and DiFrancesco tangled and went down.  The third time had DiFrancesco take the lead and he ran away with the win and earned his spot in the field.  Christian looked to be running a solid second place until he drifted off the pole on the third lap and allowed Hedden to take second.  Christian and Yarrow would have to come right back for a chance at reserve.

The final preliminary race would determine the two reserves.   Krips took the lead in turn one and never looked back as he ran away with the win.   Christian was running second when Yarrow passed him on the inside on the second lap and held on to second for the final reserve slot.  Christian and Sevart were done for the evening.

Round one began with Hancock adapting very quickly to a track he had never seen before with an easy victory over Janniro and Castro.   Manchester's evening began well as he took the win in race two while Larsen's race ended early after suffering a cracked fuel tank while running second.  His misfortune allowed Fisher to get second.  Hicks took the lead in race three, but Brant roared by on the back straight and pulled away for the win.  Hamill gave everyone a preview of the entire evening with a runaway win to close out the round.

Hamill began round two the same way he began round one, with an easy victory, Janniro finished second, while round one winner Manchester was third.   Race six was eventful as Faria took the lead, only to lose it to Bast on the back straight.  Bast handed the lead back to Faria after going straight into turn one the second time, then Fisher went past Faria on the back straight one lap later.  That would prove to be the last lead change as Fisher took his first win of the evening followed by Faria and Hicks.  Brant used gate one to take the lead and an easy victory over Larsen and Hancock in race seven.  Castro earned his first win of the evening with a convincing win to end round two.

Fisher began round three with a victory to remain one point of the pace while Janniro was second for the third straight round, Tommy Hedden was third, and Brant saw his perfect score evaporate when he fell in turn three.  Manchester regained his form as he was an easy winner in race 10.  Hancock took his second win of the evening by defeating Faria, who passed had Schwartz for second.  Hamill made it three for three by beating Castro and Larsen in the final race of the third round.

At intermission, Hamill sat at the top with a perfect nine points.  Fisher was second with eight points.  Hancock and Manchester were tied with seven, while Janniro, Castro, Brant, and Faria each had three.

Janniro was first out of the gate and first to the checkered flag as he won the first race of round four.  Hamill's perfect evening continued with another dominating win in race 14.  Hancock earned his third win of the night by defeating Hicks and Manchester in race 15.  Castro used the outside line to pass Fisher on the first lap and pulled away for his second win of the evening to end round four.

With one round remaining, Hamill was still perfect and his 12 points had already earned him a berth in the A Final.  Hancock and Fisher were tied for second with 10 points apiece.  Janniro and Castro each had nine, while Manchester and Brant each had eight.

Janniro secured his spot in the A Final with an easy win to start the fifth round while Hicks finished second and was headed to the C Final.   Larsen was the victor in race 18, but would have to wait to see what his fate would be regarding the championship rounds.
Race 19 brought the three high-point men to the tapes in Hamill, Hancock, and Fisher.   Hamill was first to turn one and left everyone in his wake as raced to his fifth straight win.  Hancock held off all of Fisher's challenges to finish second and transfer to the A Final, while Fisher would have to wait to see which race he was in.

Race 20 brought several scenarios.  Manchester and Castro controlled their destiny as a victory by either rider was a ticket to the A Final.   If Brant won and Castro was second, then there would be a three-rider runoff for the final spot in the A Final.  A Brant victory and anyone else finishing second would send Fisher into the A Final.  Castro ended all the drama by using the outside in turn two to get the lead and he ran away with the win and the final spot in the A Final.

Before the championship round could begin, there were two runoffs to determine some of the positions.  A runoff between Bast and the Hedden Brothers was needed to determine the final two spots in the C Final, while third would go the D Final.  A runoff with Larsen, Brant, and Faria would fill the final two spots in the B Final with third place going to the C Final.

In the first runoff, Bast jumped into the lead followed by Bobby Hedden.  Bast ran away with the victory and although Bobby Hedden crossed the line second, he was disqualified because his silencer came apart, and his brother was credited with second.  Faria took the lead in the second runoff and never looked back as he booked his spot in the B Final with a win.  Brant finished second and got into the B Final as well while Larsen's third place put him in the C Final.

The overflow crowd witnessed an evening of spectacular racing as the importance of the event was evident in the performance and effort that the riders displayed all evening long.  Round two of the AMA National Championship Series will be at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn on Friday and round three will be at Auburn as well on September 20.

Preliminary Races
1: Yarrow, DiFrancesco, Krips, Hiles (engine failure)
2: Christian, T.Hedden, Kerr, Sevart
3: Krips, Sevart, Kerr, Hiles
4: (restarted twice) DiFrancesco, T.Hedden, Christian, Yarrow (excluded)
5: Krips, Yarrow, Christian, Sevart


1 2 3 4 5 T
1 - Billy Janniro 2 2 2 3 3 12
2 - Bart Bast 0 0 1 1 2 4
3 - Greg Hancock 3 1 3 3 2 12
4 - Eddie Castro 1 3 2 3 3 12
5 - Chris Manchester 3 1 3 1 1 9
6 - Ryan Fisher 2 3 3 2 1 11
7 - Josh Larsen R 2 1 2 3 8
8 - Eric Carrillo 1 1 0 0 1 3
9 - Bobby Schwartz 0 0 1 1 0 2
10 - Gary Hicks 2 1 T 2 2 7
11 - Scott Brant 3 3 F 2 0 8
12 - Bobby Hedden 1 0 2 1 0 4
13 - Billy Hamill * 3 3 3 3 3 15
14 - Mike Faria 2 2 2 E 2 8
15 - Randy DiFrancesco 1 0 T 0 0 1
16 - Tommy Hedden 0 2 1 0 1 4
17 - Bobby Krips (R) 0 0 - - - 0
18 - Bryan Yarrow (R) 0 0 - - - 0

*Billy Hamill earned one bonus series point as top scorer

Race Results
1: Hancock, Janniro, Castro, Bast
2: Manchester, Fisher, Carrillo, Larsen (retired)
3: Brant, Hicks, B.Hedden, Schwartz
4: Hamill, Faria, DiFrancesco, T.Hedden
5: Hamill, Janniro, Manchester, Schwartz
6: Fisher, Faria, Hicks, Bast
7: Brant, Larsen, Hancock, DiFrancesco
8: Castro, T.Hedden, Carrillo, B.Hedden
9: Fisher, Janniro, T.Hedden, Brant (fell)
10: Manchester, B.Hedden, Bast, Krips, DiFrancesco (tape exclusion)
11: Hancock, Faria, Schwartz, Carrillo
12: Hamill, Castro, Larsen, Yarrow, Hicks (tape exclusion)
13: Janniro, Larsen, B.Hedden, Faria (engine failure)
14: Hamill, Brant, Bast, Carrillo
15: Hancock, Hicks, Manchester, T.Hedden
16: Castro, Fisher, Schwartz, DiFrancesco
17: Janniro, Hicks, Carrillo, DiFrancesco
18: Larsen, Bast, T.Hedden, Schwartz
19: Hamill, Hancock, Fisher, B.Hedden
20: Castro, Faria, Manchester, Brant
D Final: Schwartz, Carrillo, DiFrancesco, B.Hedden
C Final: Hicks, Larsen, Bast, T.Hedden (fell)
B Final: Brant, Manchester, Fisher, Faria (tape exclusion)
A Final: Hamill, Janniro, Hancock, Castro

Standings after Round 1
Billy Hamill 21
Billy Janniro 18
Greg Hancock 16
Eddie Castro 14
Scott Brant 12
Chris Manchester 11
Ryan Fisher 10
Mike Faria 9
Gary Hicks 8
Josh Larsen 7
Bart Bast 6
Tommy Hedden 5
Bobby Schwartz 4
Eric Carrillo 3
Randy DiFrancesco 2
Bobby Hedden 1

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Article from The Los Angeles Times:

Billy Hamill of Monrovia put on a clinic Wednesday night in the
first round of the American Motorcyclist Assn. National Championship
Speedway Series in San Bernardino.

Hamill, matched in five rounds against every other rider in the 16-
man field, showed why he is the reigning national champion.

He won all five heats for a perfect score of 15 to advance to the A-
main. He then beat Greg Hancock of Balboa, Billy Janniro of Vallejo
and Eddie Castro of Ojai to take the lead in the three-race series,
which continues tonight at Auburn.

"The national championship, next to the world championship, is the
most coveted title for me," Hamill, who won the 1996 world
championship, said after the four-lap race on the wide eighth-mile
dirt track. "I want to win this more than anything."

With his first-round victory, and having earned an additional point
for being the top scorer, Hamill has 21 Grand Prix points in the
richest event in American speedway history. The purse was more than
$12,000, and figures to top more than $33,000 for the series.

Hancock, the 1997 world champion, earned 18 points, Janniro 16 and
Castro 14. Costa Mesa rider Scott Brant, the B-main winner, is in
fifth place with 12 points, and Reno rider Chris Manchester has 11.

But it will be hard to catch Hamill.

"It's over unless something happens to him or his bike," said
Riverside rider Gary Hicks, who won the C-main, good for eight
points. "It's between the three guys on top, unless there's a

The three on top are all riding this season in Europe. Hamill is
captain of the Coventry Bees in the British Elite League, and
Janniro is one of his teammates. A British League rule change, and a
late decision by Coventry in which it chose Hamill over Hancock,
left Hancock out of the British League this season.

Hancock is instead racing in Poland and Sweden and is eighth in the
world championship standings. Hamill is ninth.

Round 3 of the National Championship Series is set for Sept. 20 in

Bill Amick, the AMA's vice president of events and entertainment,
told riders that the series probably would expand in the future.
This is the first season the national championship is being
determined in a series format.

"We're interested in controlled growth," he said. "It's such a break
from tradition. It's been well received by the riders, and we'd like
to see five races next year, and eventually, maybe 10 races.

"We'd like to go east a little bit, but most of the talent is in the West."

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Fast Fridays announced that the wildcards for the AMA National Series are:
Bryan Yarrow
Chris Kerr
Randy Kripps
Alan Christian
Billy Hiles
Randy Difrancesco
Tommy Hedden
Ivan Sevart

These same riders will be the wildcards for all 3 rounds.  A pre event qualifier will determine which riders fill the 15th and 16th slots in the National Round event.   After the first rounds the 15th and 16th finishers will go back into the wildcard pool for the second round and finishers 1-14 go straight to the National Second Round event.  The same process will be used to fill the 15th and 16th slots for the third round.

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Starting position draw held for 2002 AMA National Speedway Series

On July 17 AMA Sports conducted the "draw" for starting positions in round one of the 2002 AMA National Championship Speedway Series, and riding numbers have been assigned accordingly to the first 14 riders who have accepted invitations to compete in the series.

The riding numbers for the August 14 opening round of the series are as follows:

No. 1 - Billy Janniro, Vallejo, CA
No. 2 - Bart Bast, Auburn, CA
No. 3 - Greg Hancock, Balboa Island, CA
No. 4 - Eddie Castro, Ojai, CA
No. 5 - Chris Manchester, Reno, NV
No. 6 - Ryan Fisher, Norco, CA
No. 7 - Josh Larsen, Monrovia, CA
No. 8 - Eric Carrillo, Newark, CA
No. 9 - Bobby Schwartz, Costa Mesa, CA
No. 10 - Gary Hicks, Riverside, CA
No. 11 - Scott Brant, Riverside, CA
No. 12 - Bobby Hedden, Folsom, CA
No. 13 - Billy Hamill, Monrovia, CA
No. 14 - Mike Faria, Reno, NV
No. 15 - TBD
No. 16 - TBD

The 15th and 16th riders for the field, along with two reserve riders, will be determined by a five-heat pre-qualifying round. Pre-qualifying will open the action when the 2002 AMA National Championship Speedway Series kicks off on Wednesday, August 14, at Arrowhead Speedway at the Orange Show Fairgrounds in San Bernardino, California.

The series will continue on Friday, August 16, at Fast Fridays Speedway in Auburn, California, which will also host the series finale on September 20.

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PICKERINGTON, Ohio - AMA sports, in cooperation with Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway and Arrowhead Speedway, has announced expansion of its National Speedway Championship program.

The 2002 AMA National Speedway Championship historically a season ending, ONE Night event will adopt a tripleheader format, with two events in August ant the series finale in September.

The 2002 AMA National Championship Speedway Series will open on Wednesday evening, August 14, at San Bernardino, California. Round two of the series will take place 48 hours later, on Friday, August 16 at Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway in Auburn, California. The series finale will also be staged in Auburn, September 20, which for several seasons has hosted the AMA's premier Speedway events.

"We are delighted to be working with two premier Speedway venues to launch this exciting new series," said AMA Vice president Bill Amick. The traditional sudden - death format or our championship is undeniable exciting, but the series format will be fairer to the riders and also allows us to showcase their talents in the sport's premier markets of Northern and Southern California.

Speedway Motorcycle Racing is one of the oldest forms of motorcycle competition, and features powerful, methanol - burning dirt track machines on short dirt ovals. The machines are lightweight and have no brakes, which makes for spectacular broadsides as riders negotiate tight corners in frantic four - lap sprints.

Speedway is viewed as a niche motor sport in America, and there are only about 100 'first division' riders racing domestically. But the US makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity, and has an impressive record in international competition. Since 1980, US riders have won five speedway World Championships. Two of those champions, Californians Billy Hamill (1996) and Greg Hancock (1997) will headline a stellar field for the 2002 AMA National Champion Speedway Series.

Hancock and Hamill are among the world's elite Speedway competitors, and will take time from their Grand Prix and league commitments in Europe to return home for the AMA - sanctioned series. Invitations have also been issued to a pair of exciting young American internationals, Billy Janniro and Ryan Fisher, who are Hamill's teammates at Coventry, England Elite Speedway league.

The European - based contingent will be formidable, but will have their hands full with home - based riders such as former National Champions Mike Faria, Bobby Schwartz, Bart Bast and Chris Manchester.

Under a new format developed for the 2002 AMA Championships, 14 riders will be seeded into a 16 - rider field for the series opener. The final two positions, plus two reserve positions, will be awarded to the top finishers in a first half pre-qualifying program.

Once the field has been trimmed to 16 riders, there will be a series of 20 qualifying heats with four riders in each heat. Each rider will race five times and will meet each of the other 15 riders once.

Points earned in the 20-race qualifying rounds will determine seeding into the championship round, where the winner of the .A. main will be the overall event winner. AMA National points will be awarded to all riders who qualify for the championship round at each of the three AMA Nationals.

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