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2009 Costa Mesa Speedway
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Costa Mesa Speedway
Orange County Fairgrounds
Costa Mesa, California

2009 AMA Racing/USA Speedway National Championship Series Round 1
June 6, 2009 - Costa Mesa
By: Ryan Evans

Greg Hancock began his pursuit of a record eighth U.S. National Championship with a flawless performance at Round 1 of the AMA Racing/USA Speedway National Championship Series at the world famous Costa Mesa Speedway.

The 1997 World Champion’s perfect score in the heats not only earned him a bonus Series point, but it also allowed him first choice of starting position in the A Final. Hancock wasted no time in selecting gate one. Defending National Champion Billy “The Kid” Janniro had second choice and selected gate two. Gary Hicks, who became just the second Elimination Round rider to make the A Final, picked gate four, which left Kenny Ingalls with gate three.

When the tapes went up Hancock exploded into the lead and hugged the inside line in the first bend while Janniro went to the outside. Ingalls followed Hancock around the low line and was right behind him as they went down the back straight. Janniro found a lot of traction on the outside and went past Ingalls for second and set his sights on the leader. The defending champion went down low on the second lap but couldn’t find a way past Hancock so he went deep into turn one the third time and tried a cutback move exiting turn two. It was a wise move, but the seven-time National Champion was unfazed and didn’t give an opening on the back straight. Janniro tried the same move in turns three and four, but Hancock was up to the challenge and didn’t drift off the pole. As they took the white flag Janniro decided to try the cushion in an effort to take the lead on the outside. Hancock still led when they went down the back straight but Janniro built up a lot of speed as they entered the final corner. Janniro’s momentum wasn’t enough to carry him into the lead, though, and Hancock confidently nodded at the crowd as he exited turn four and claimed the victory. Janniro had to settle for second, a very impressive Ingalls finished third, and Hicks was fourth.

Hancock’s victory is his first major step toward breaking his tie with the legendary Mike Bast for most U.S. National Championships. Hancock has expressed his respect for Bast and his accomplishments on numerous occasions and has also made no secret of his desire to break a record that many had thought to be unattainable.

Eight riders squared off in the Elimination Round to fill the final two spots in the 16-rider championship field. Former Youth National Champion Jason Ramirez had his chances end at the starting line when he touched the tapes and was excluded. Shawn “Mad Dog” McConnell handily won Elimination Race 1 to transfer to the crucial Elimination Race 4. “Spiderman” Mike Bloom suffered the same fate as Ramirez by getting a tape exclusion himself. Hicks ran away with the victory to join McConnell in Elimination Race 4. Elimination Race 3 was restarted when Alex Marcucci and Ben Essary collided and went down in turn three with Essary getting excluded from the restart. Dale Facchini led the restart from start to finish with Tyson Burmeister following him into Elimination Race 4. Hicks left no doubt in Elimination Race 4 as he cruised to the victory and claimed his spot in the Championship field. Facchini was in second for a lap, but McConnell used his vast experience to his advantage and squeezed past Facchini for second on lap two. Facchini went wide into turn three which allowed Burmeister to get into third. The positions didn’t change after that and it was McConnell taking the final spot in the Championship field. Burmeister’s third place made him the first reserve and the frustrated Facchini’s fourth made him second reserve.

The first heat of the night received a week’s worth of hype after the draw, which was held publicly at Costa Mesa the previous week, revealed that the opening heat would feature Jimmy Fishback, Janniro, Ricky Wells, and Hancock. Hancock threw down the gauntlet by propelling into the lead from his gate four and leaving everyone to fight for second with a blisteringly fast victory. Fishback held off the persistent Janniro for second while Wells ended his race on his backside when he went over backward on the back straight.

Ingalls was in gate four in event two and used the outside in the first corner to secure the lead and take his first win of the night. Event three ended in a heap in the first corner with Bart Bast getting excluded. Hicks made it three straight heats with gate-four winners as he led all the way for his first victory. The final heat of the first round featured a very spirited three-rider battle between Tommy Hedden, Mike Faria, and McConnell. Hedden secured the lead on the second lap and pushed Faria wide which allowed McConnell into second. Hedden led the rest of the way for the win.

Charlie “The Edge” Venegas began the second round with a convincing win in front of Fishback.

McConnell led event six into the first corner, but Janniro challenged on the outside. The two riders leaned on each other exiting turn two with Janniro finding enough speed on the back straight to take the lead entering turn three. Janniro pulled away to his first win and Bast slipped past McConnell to take second.

Schwartz and Blair battled side-by-side for a lap and a half before the two-time National Champion took the lead for good. Schwartz pulled away to the victory and Blair was nudged out of second by Wells on the next lap.

The final race of round two brought three of round one’s race winners to the tapes as well as Faria. Hancock left everyone in his wake right from the start by jumping to a big lead. Hicks got ahead of Ingalls for second, but never threatened the World Speedway Grand Prix rider. Hancock romped to his second straight win and was the only undefeated rider after the second round.

Faria seemed to turn his evening around by starting the third round with a victory over Fishback and Schwartz. Janniro started event 10 in gate four and went straight to the outside line in turn one to take the lead. Hedden gave chase, but found his hands full with Hicks. Hicks went under Hedden for second at the end of lap two, but couldn’t catch Janniro who notched his second win. Ingalls survived a four-lap assault from Wells in event 11 to earn his second win of the evening. Venegas was excluded from event 12 for touching the tapes and was replaced by Burmeister. When the riders returned to the tapes it was all Hancock who made it three for three to remain perfect after three rounds.

Hicks got back on the winning track by starting round four with his second victory. Janniro beat Ingalls, Venegas, and Schwartz in event 14 for his third straight victory. Wells beat Bryan Yarrow, Bast, and Faria to claim his first victory of the evening. Hancock’s victory train kept rolling as he was dominant en route to his fourth consecutive victory to end the fourth round.

Entering the final round of heats Hancock sat alone on top with 12 points; Janniro and Hicks were tied with 10 points each; Ingalls was next with nine points; Fishback had eight points; and Wells had tallied seven points.

Ingalls began the final round with his third win and his 12 points secured a spot in the A Final. Janniro made it four straight wins in event 18 to bring his total to 13 points and guarantee him no worse than second choice of gate position in the A Final. Hicks got the drop on Wells in event 19 and he held off the Coventry Bee for his third win and locked up a spot in the A Final. Hancock revealed no blemishes in his armor as he roared to victory ahead of Yarrow to end the heats with a perfect score and first choice of starting position in the A Final.

Nate Perkins made the best start in the D Final, but went wide in turn two and opened the door for Blair to take the lead. The Colorado native made no mistakes and took the win. Hedden finished second, Faria was third, and Perkins finished fourth.

Venegas was first off the starting line in the C Final and led all four laps to take the win ahead of McConnell, Schwartz, and Yarrow.

Fishback led the B Final into turn one, but Wells turned back underneath the defending Costa Mesa Fair Derby Champion to take the lead on the back straight. The Under 21 Champion never had his lead challenged from there and claimed the victory. Fishback finished second, Bast was third, and Castro finished fourth.

This event marked the fourth consecutive year that the AMA/USA Speedway National Championship Series has kicked off at Costa Mesa Speedway. The continued support from Brad and Jaleen Oxley and International Speedway Incorporated has undoubted elevated the status of the Series in the four years that they have promoted the opening round. Round 2 of the Series will take place on Friday, July 10 at Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn, California.


Elimination Race #1
21 – Shawn McConnell
17 – Ben Essary
24 – Dale Facchini
20 – Jason Ramirez	(tape exclusion)

Elimination Race #2
23 – Gary Hicks
19 – Tyson Burmeister
18 – Alex Marcucci
22 – Mike Bloom		(tape exclusion)

Elimination Race #3 (restarted)
24 – Dale Facchini
19 – Tyson Burmeister
18 – Alex Marcucci
17 – Ben Essary		(fell, excluded)

Elimination Race #4
23 – Gary Hicks
21 – Shawn McConnell
19 – Tyson Burmeister
24 – Dale Facchini

Scoring				1	2	3	4	5	T
 1 – Billy Janniro		1	3	3	3	3	13
 2 – Bart Bast			X	2	2	1	2	7
 3 – Bryan Yarrow		1	0	0	2	2	5
 4 – Mike Faria			0	0	3	0	1	4
 5 – Ricky Wells		F	2	2	3	2	9
 6 – Charlie Venegas		1	3	T	1	1	6
 7 – Kenny Ingalls		3	1	3	2	3	12
 8 – Tommy Hedden		3	0	1	0	0	4
 9 – Jimmy Fishback		2	2	2	2	1	9
10 – Nate Perkins		2	0	0	1	0	3
11 – Buck Blair			0	1	1	R	0	2
13 – Bobby Schwartz		2	3	1	0	0	6
14 – Eddie Castro		1	1	1	2	2	7
15 – Greg Hancock		3	3	3	3	3	15*
21 – Shawn McConnell		2	1	0	1	1	5
23 – Gary Hicks			3	2	2	3	3	13
19 – Tyson Burmeister (R)	0	-	-	-	-	0
24 – Dale Facchini (R) 	-	-	-	-	-	-

*Greg Hancock earned 1 bonus Series point as top scorer in the Qualifying Rounds 

Race  Results
 1: Hancock, Fishback, Janniro, Wells (fell)
 2: Ingalls, Perkins, Yarrow, Blair
 3: (restarted) Hicks, Schwartz, Castro, Bast (excluded)
 4: Hedden, McConnell, Venegas, Faria
 5: Venegas, Fishback, Castro, Yarrow
 6: Janniro, Bast, McConnell, Perkins (fell, remounted)
 7: Schwartz, Wells, Blair, Hedden
 8: Hancock, Hicks, Ingalls, Faria
 9: Faria, Fishback Schwartz, Perkins (fell, remounted)
10: Janniro, Hicks, Hedden, Yarrow
11: Ingalls, Wells, Castro, McConnell
12: Hancock, Bast, Blair, Burmeister, Venegas (tape exclusion)
13: Hicks, Fishback, McConnell, Blair (retired)
14: Janniro, Ingalls, Venegas, Schwartz
15: Wells, Yarrow, Bast, Faria
16: Hancock, Castro, Perkins, Hedden (fell, remounted)
17: Ingalls, Bast, Fishback, Hedden (fell, remounted)
18: Janniro, Castro, Faria, Blair
19: Hicks, Wells, Perkins, Venegas
20: Hancock, Yarrow, McConnell, Schwartz

D Final
11 – Buck Blair
 8 – Tommy Hedden
 4 – Mike Faria
10 – Nate Perkins

C Final
 6 – Charlie Venegas
21 – Shawn McConnell
13 – Bobby Schwartz
 3 – Bryan Yarrow

B Final
 5 – Ricky Wells
 9 – Jimmy Fishback
 2 – Bart Bast
14 – Eddie Castro

A Final
15 – Greg Hancock
 1 – Billy Janniro
 7 – Kenny Ingalls
23 – Gary Hicks

Series Points Standings after Round 1
15 – Greg Hancock		21
 1 – Billy Janniro		18
 7 – Kenny Ingalls		16
23 – Gary Hicks 		14
 5 – Ricky Wells		12
 9 – Jimmy Fishback		11
 2 – Bart Bast			10
14 – Eddie Castro		9
 6 – Charlie Venegas		8
21 – Shawn McConnell		7
13 – Bobby Schwartz		6
 3 – Bryan Yarrow		5
11 – Buck Blair			4
 8 – Tommy Hedden		3
 4 – Mike Faria			2
10 – Nate Perkins		1
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