Fast Fridays Speedway
Gold Country Fairgrounds
Greg Hancock won the AMA National Championship to equal Mike Bast's 30 year record of 7 National Championship wins.
Fast Fridays, Auburn, California USA - October 7, 2006
By Gary Roberts
AMA / USA Speedway National Series - Round 1
AMA / USA Speedway National Series - Round 2
Greg said "This is an incredible feeling to equal Mike Bast's record. All this time he has been my hero, my mentor, my friend. I have learned such a lot from Mike. Where do I go from here? This rounds up a great season. Getting second place in the World Championship is the best result since I won it in 97. I am grateful to all the folks who have supported me. I dedicate tonight's win to my friend John Cook."
Mike Bast commented "Greg did a fantastic job. This was a 35 year record and I didn't think I would ever see it equaled. I remember Greg when I first saw him riding a mini-bike. I congratulate him and welcome him to the top rank of American Speedway."
Going into this, the third and final round of the championship scores were tight at the top. Hancock and San Bernardino's Charlie Venegas were tied on 36 points and Billy Hamill had 35 points. The Championship could have gone to any one of these three.
But as usual, Hancock made it look easy, winning his first four races from the gate. He was only beaten once, in his fifth heat and that was by his life long friend and arch competitor, 1996 World Champion, Billy Hamill. Hamill's evening started badly, missing the gate and ending with a third place behind local riders Tommy Hedden and Bart Bast. But Hamill won his next four races. Top regulars Charlie Venegas and Mike Faria scored the other two victories in the first round.
In the second round, in addition to Hamill and Hancock, Bast and Hedden again had wins. The third round opened with a very nasty looking accident. Eddie Castro, Bart Bast and Shaun Harmatiuk tangled in turn one. Harmatiuk suffered a sprained ankle, which slowed his pace for the rest of the night and his machine went through the wall, fortunately hitting nobody. Castro won the re-run. By the intermission, Hancock had a perfect score, Faria and Hedden were each only down a single point, Hamill and Bast was down 2 points, but co-leader going into the third round Charlie Venegas was already down 4 points.
Hamill won the opening race of round four followed by a win for Southern Californian veteran Shawn McConnell. Hancock charged out of the gate of heat 15, with Bryan Yarrow and Bast in tow, while Venegas missed it completely. But it turned into a great race as the order of the last three completely chanced. Bast getting past Yarrow, then Venegas getting past first Yarrow, then in the last few yards of the race, Bast. Faria beat Hedden in the next race, while Castro fell.
In the fifth round Venegas, Bast then Castro took wins, each gating from the outside gate. But the big decider came in heat 20 where Hamill met Hancock and Faria. Hamill got the gate and Hancock rode a wide line, hoping for the mistake that never happened.
Veteran Bobby Schwartz won the D main, from local riders Josh West and Ivan Sevart.
Yarrow won the D main but a great battle ensued behind him as McConnell and Harmatiuk changed places each lap. The B main was sorted out in the first corner as Bast and Nate Perkins took and inside line while Castro and Venegas drove wide. Bast's win was a good finale to a season ruined by injury. Hancock selected the pole for the A main, with Hamill in gate two. He made no mistake, blasted from the gate and never looked back. Hamill tried, but there was nothing he could do.
Their finishing order brought them totals of 57 and 53 points for the series. Faria and Venegas tied with 45, calling for a run off, which Faria won.
Throughout the night there was a lot of exciting and fast racing, plenty of overtaking, especially by riders using an outside line.
How did the other favorites get on?
Venegas, by his usual standards, really had a bad night, missing the gate a couple of times and once experiencing machine problems.
Bryan Yarrow, who made the A main in the last round, had a disappointing night, scoring only 6 points. He remains the only younger rider (sub 30 years old) from the Northern Californians, to be able to compete at the top level.
Tommy Hedden had a great night, making his first National Championship A main, completing what has been an outstanding season for him.
Fast Fridays will be host the annual USA verses The World on Friday, October 27.
Greg Hancock 14
Billy Hamill 13
Mike Faria 12
Tommy Hedden 12
Bart Bast 11
Charlie Venegas 10
Eddie Castro 9
Nate Perkins 8
Bryan Yarrow 6
Shawn McConnell 6
Shaun Harmatiuk 5
Buck Blair 4
Bobby Schwartz 3
Ivan Sevart 2
TJ Fowler 2
Josh West 1
1. Schwartz 2. West 3. Severt
1. Yarrow 2. McConnell 3. Harmatiuk 4. Blair
1. Bast 2. Perkins 3. Castro 4. Venegas
1. Hancock 2. Hamill 3. Faria 4. Hedden
Tie Breaker Run-off for 3rd in series
1. Faria 2. Venegas
AMA National Championship Series Final Result
1. Hancock 2. Hamill 3. Faria 4. Venegas
Gary Roberts - firstname.lastname@example.org