AMA US Nationals - Round 2
August 7, 2004 - Victorville
By: Ryan Evans
Nationals Round 1 - August 6
Three-time National Champion Billy Hamill won Round Two of the AMA National Championship Series in spectacular fashion in front of an overflow crowd at Wheel2Wheel Raceway in Victorville, California on Saturday.
Current National Champion Greg Hancock, who won Round One the previous night in Auburn, entered the A Final with a perfect score and selected the pole. Hamill, who suffered his only defeat at the hands of Hancock, then picked gate two. Billy Janniro, with 13 points, chose gate three. This left Mike Faria, who had scored 12 points, with the outside.
There appeared to be movement prior to the start, but when the tapes finally went up it was Hancock who exploded into the lead. A very determined Hamill got a good run exiting turn two and went to the inside of Hancock on the backstraight and completed the pass entering turn three. Hamill's pass moved Hancock far enough up the race track that Janniro was able to seize second. Hamill's lead was never in jeopardy and he raced away with the victory and received a loud ovation from the crowd. Janniro fought off Hancock to hold on to second and Faria was fourth.
After two rounds Hancock is the series leader with 38 points, Hamill's victory brought his total to 37 points, and Janniro is third with 36. The final round of the series is Friday, September 24 in Auburn.
Victorville has hosted important events in the past, but Saturday marked the biggest speedway event to be held in the desert city. Howie Zechner of RAZ Video and Auburn promoter Dave Joiner were responsible for bringing the AMA National back to Southern California and their work resulted in a standing-room-only crowd.
Eight riders squared off in the elimination round for the final two spots in the field of 16. Buck Blair jumped into the lead in race one and was well on his way to victory when fell in the final corner allowing Chris Kerr to get the win and earn a spot in the critical fourth elimination race. Bobby Schwartz finished second and Blair still managed third which placed them in the third elimination race.
Bobby Krips easily won the second elimination race, thus transferring to elimination race four, while New York's Tom Sephton and Northern California's Matt Browne would have to come right back in the next race.
Blair was excluded from elimination race three before it started for exceeding the two minute limit. Sephton and Browne finished first and second, respectively, and moved on to the final elimination race, while Schwartz was eliminated after finishing third.
Despite competing in three consecutive races, Sephton was victorious in eliminator race four and earned a berth in the National field. Kerr's second place gave him the other open slot in the field. Browne was third, making him first reserve, and Krips was fourth, which gave him second reserve.
Round one began with Faria jumping to a big lead and taking an easy victory ahead of Eddie Castro and SRA National Champion Scott Brant. Race two featured Hamill, Janniro, and Chris Manchester, three riders who were in the A Final the previous evening. Janniro was first from the tapes, but Hamill muscled his way past Janniro on the inside as they entered turn three and then motored away with the win. Former SRA National Champion Bart Bast was unchallenged in his race three victory. Hancock, who had never seen the race track before Saturday, adapted quickly and scored his first win in race four.
Round two began with Hancock getting another fast start and defeating Janniro for his second victory. Brant fought off Manchester to win race six. Hamill earned his second straight win ahead of Faria in the process, leaving Hancock and himself as the only undefeated riders. In the final race of round two, the Hedden brothers gated together, but it was Tommy who surged ahead and held off brother Bobby for the win.
Manchester started round three with his first victory of the evening with Castro finishing in second. In race 10 Janniro earned his initial win by holding off Brant. Faria was victorious for the second time after beating Venegas in race 11.
The final race of the round was a showdown between Hancock and Hamill, the only remaining undefeated riders. The former World Champions gated together and just when Hamill appeared to have the lead it turn two, he overslid a bit and Hancock seized control of the lead. Having lost his momentum, Hamill was unable to challenge Hancock, who captured his third straight win.
After intermission, Hamill regained his winning form and defeated Venegas to begin round four. Hancock made it four in a row with a victory over Brant in race 14. Janniro won his second straight race in race 15 and Faria's second place kept him in the hunt for an A Final berth. Manchester closed out the fourth round with his second straight victory and put himself in a position to make the A Final.
Bast began round five with his second victory, which placed him in the B Final. Hamill's fourth victory in race 18 gave him 14 points and a spot in the A Final, while Brant's second place put him in the B Final.
Hancock, Faria, and Manchester all came to the tapes in race 19 with the hopes of making the A Final. Hancock blazed to his fifth win, a perfect 15 points, and first gate choice in the A Final. Faria was second and secured his spot in the A Final while Manchester's third place put him in the B Final.
Janniro, already guaranteed a spot in the A Final, romped to his third straight win in race 20 while Venegas's second place would only get him into the C Final.
The D Final brought out Sephton, Kerr, Bryan Yarrow, and Shaun Harmatiuk. The top two would be guaranteed a spot in round three next month, while third or fourth would mean the grueling elimination round again. Kerr was first from the tapes, followed by Sephton, and that it remained unchanged at the finish. Harmatiuk was third and Yarrow was fourth.
The C Final was Tommy Hedden from start to finish with Eric Carrillo finishing second, Castro came in third, and Venegas was fourth. Manchester fought off the valiant challenges of Brant to win the B Final and bring his series total to 26 and remain in fourth place overall. Bobby Hedden was third and Bast finished fourth.
The Victorville facility, which is located at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds, hosted weekly speedway from 1985 to 1996. Former speedway racer John Aden took over the dormant facility several years ago and built a bigger, high-banked track which has hosted a handful of speedway meetings since 2002, including last year's Under 21 Invitational. The event received excellent media coverage in Southern California which undoubtedly helped produce a sold out event.
Eliminator 1: Kerr, Schwartz, Blair (fell), Boyle (fell)
Eliminator 2: Krips, Sephton, Browne, Estes
Eliminator 3: Sephton, Browne, Schwartz, Blair (two minute exclusion)
Eliminator 4: Sephton, Kerr, Browne, Krips
Scoring 1 2 3 4 5 T
1 - Eddie Castro 2 0 2 1 E 5
2 - Scott Brant 1 3 2 2 2 10
3 - Mike Faria 3 2 3 2 2 12
4 - Tommy Hedden 0 3 0 2 1 6
5 - Billy Janniro 2 2 3 3 3 13
6 - Chris Manchester 1 2 3 3 1 10
7 - Billy Hamill 3 3 2 3 3 14
8 - Eric Carrillo 0 1 1 1 2 5
9 - Chris Kerr 2 1 T F 0 3
10 - Bart Bast 3 1 1 0 3 8
11 - Shaun Harmatiuk F 0 E 0 0 0
12 - Bryan Yarrow 1 0 0 0 0 1
13 - Greg Hancock 3 3 3 3 3 15
14 - Charlie Venegas 1 0 2 2 2 7
15 - Tom Sephton 0 1 1 1 1 4
16 - Bobby Hedden 2 2 1 1 1 7
(R) - Matt Browne 0 - - - - 0
(R) - Bobby Krips did not ride
1: Faria, Castro, Brant, T.Hedden
2: Hamill, Janniro, Manchester, Carrillo
3: Bast, Kerr, Yarrow, Harmatiuk (fell)
4: Hancock, B.Hedden, Venegas, Sephton
5: Hancock, Janniro, Kerr, Castro
6: Brant, Manchester, Bast, Venegas
7: Hamill, Faria, Sephton, Harmatiuk
8: T.Hedden, B.Hedden, Carrillo, Yarrow
9: Manchester, Castro, B.Hedden, Harmatiuk (engine failure)
10: Janniro, Brant, Sephton, Yarrow
11: Faria, Venegas, Carrillo, Browne, Kerr (tape exclusion)
12: Hancock, Hamill, Bast, T.Hedden
13: Hamill, Venegas, Castro, Yarrow
14: Hancock, Brant, Carrillo, Harmatiuk
15: Janniro, Faria, B.Hedden, Bast
16: Manchester, T.Hedden, Sephton, Kerr (fell)
17: (restarted) Bast, Carrillo, Sephton, Castro (engine failure)
18: Hamill, Brant, B.Hedden, Kerr
19: Hancock, Faria, Manchester, Yarrow
20: Janniro, Venegas, T.Hedden, Harmatiuk
D Final: Kerr, Sephton, Harmatiuk, Yarrow
C Final: T.Hedden, Carrillo, Castro, Venegas
B Final: Manchester, Brant, B.Hedden, Bast
A Final: Hamill, Janniro, Hancock, Faria
Series Points Rd.1 Rd.2 Total
Greg Hancock 21 17 38
Billy Hamill 17 20 37
Billy Janniro 18 18 36
Chris Manchester 14 12 26
Mike Faria 11 14 25
Bobby Hedden 12 10 22
Scott Brant 11 10 21
Tommy Hedden 8 8 16
Bart Bast 7 9 16
Charlie Venegas 6 5 11
Eddie Castro 5 6 11
Eric Carrillo 4 7 11
Bryan Yarrow 9 1 10
Shaun Harmatiuk 3 2 5
Tom Sephton 2 3 5
Chris Kerr 0 4 4
Bobby Schwartz 1 0 1