Big Time Speedway
Results from Big Time are Continued Below...
Eight-time AMA Speedway National Champion Billy “The Kid” Janniro began his pursuit of a record-breaking ninth championship by winning Round 1 of the AMA Speedway National Championship Series at Big Time Speedway but Luke Becker served notice that there will be a season-long fight for the title. (Ryan Evans Photo of start.)
Becker went undefeated in the heats but was defeated in his semi, thus he had third choice of starting position. Janniro had first choice and selected gate two. Broc Nicol picked gate four. After a lot of deliberation Becker chose gate one which left Austin Novratil with gate three.
Janniro was first away from the tapes and immediately clamped down on Becker to take control through turns one and two. Novratil went to the high line to attack the front two but his wide sweep still left him in third and contending with Nicol. Janniro found a little traction in turn four that upset his machine just enough to open the door for Becker. Janniro slammed it shut entering turn one the second time and actually earned a little breathing room that lasted for just over a lap. As the field approached the white flag Becker had cut into the lead and hoped for some last-lap fireworks. The former Under 21 National Champion hoped for a mistake but the leader wasn’t that generous. Janniro was first to the checkered flag, Becker had to settle for second, Novratil finished third, and Nicol was fourth. Despite his second place in the Final, Becker could find some consolation with the fact that he would leave round one with a one-point series lead over the defending champion.
The event was the first major event on the 2018 American speedway calendar and also kicked off the multi-round series. For Janniro, it also began his campaign for his ninth AMA crown. Should he succeed then he would break his tie with the legendary Greg Hancock for most AMA National Championships.
The evening began just as it ended with Janniro taking the win in event one. Nicol defeated Daniel Faria in event two. Becker kept Tyson Burmeister at bay to take event three. The last race of the first round began with Aaron Fox in front but Jimmy “Little Animal” Fishback slipped by as they entered turn three. Fox tried hard to regain the lead but it was to no avail. Fishback took the win and the three points.
Nicol started the second round by defeating Dillon Ruml for his second straight win.
Event six saw Fishback and Janniro fighting throughout the first lap. Janniro secured the lead only for Fishback to go in front as they entered turn three the second time. The champion kept the heat on Fishback and the two battled the next two laps. They were side-by-side as they took the white flag but they clashed in turn one. Fishback ended up on the ground and the race continued with Janniro getting the victory. The former Youth National Champion was not too pleased but, after a brief discussion between the combatants, cooler heads prevailed.
Fox made the best start in event seven only to have Becker take the lead on the back straight and race away with his second victory. Novratil finished round two with a win over Jason Ramirez.
Ruml opened round three by jumping to the lead in event nine. Becker went wide on the back straight and swept around the boards and took the lead in turn four. He went unchallenged the rest of the way and took his third consecutive win.
Event 10 had been circled on many programs as a key race as it brought Novratil, Nicol, Fox, and Janniro to the tapes. Nicol led through turns one and two but any hopes of matching Becker’s perfect score were dashed when Novratil charged underneath for the lead entering turn three. Things got worse for Nicol as Janniro went past him on the second lap. The champion set his sights on Novratil but never posed a serious threat. Novratil scored a key victory.
Russell Green put together four impressive laps and held off Burmeister to win event 11. Ramirez, competing in his first major event since a horrific crash three years ago sidelined him with career-threatening injuries, completed the third round with a win ahead of Tommy Hedden.
Novratil’s hot streak continued as he started the fourth round with his third win in a row.
Event 14 had Janniro and Becker lining up at opposite ends of the starting line. Janniro, in gate one held a slight advantage as they entered turn one but Becker was poised to use the outside. Janniro slid up the race track to block his young challenger but they collided with Becker coming off in a heap. A full restart was ordered and, after some tweaking to the bike, Becker took his place at the starting line. The second start was a carbon copy of the first. Becker, who has spent the past couple months in Europe under the apprenticeship of four-time World Champion Greg Hancock, was ready this time and made a savvy cutback move and took the lead in turn two with Green following him to take second. Janniro was unable to get past Green and Becker romped to his fourth consecutive win.
Nicol got back on track by defeating Bart Bast in event 15. Fox trapped from gate four and led Burmeister to the finish line to end round four.
With one round of heats to go Becker sat atop the standings with a perfect 12 points. Novratil and Nicol each had 10; Janniro had a tally of nine; Ruml, Burmeister, and Fox had seven apiece; Fishback, Ramirez, and Green had six; Tommy Hedden was sitting at five.
Ruml secured his spot in the semis with a win in event 17. Green and Fox finished second and third, respectively, and would have to wait to see if they would join Ruml. Janniro scored his third victory in event 18 to put himself in the semis along with Burmeister who was second. Novratil claimed event 19 ahead of Tim Gomez for his fourth straight win. Becker closed out the heats by defeating Nicol, Fishback, and Ramirez to remain perfect.
Nicol made an electric start in the first semi and led Becker through lap one. Becker tried all that he could to get by his Speedway World Cup teammate but was unable to find an opening. Nicol handed Becker his first defeat as both racers move on to the Final. Burmeister finished third and Green was fourth.
The second semi didn’t go so smoothly. Ruml took the lead with Janniro and Novratil right behind him. The positions were unchanged after nearly two laps when Fox went over backwards in spectacular style and brought out the red flag. Janniro took advantage of his second chance by pouncing into the lead with Novratil tailing him in second. Ruml tried to make up ground but was unable to. His disappointment only worsened after three laps when he went over backwards much like Fox and in the same spot. The referee awarded the race since the leader had taken the white flag and he determined that the positions weren’t likely to change. It was on to the Final for Janniro and Novratil.
This marked the first time that Big Time Speedway had hosted an AMA National Round and they did not disappoint. Promoters Steve Stasiefski and Steve Elstins, Race Director Mike Carli, and their entire staff put together a very organized event. Their mantra is “Doing It Right” and they lived up to it. They followed the lead of the respected promoters and focused on the championship event itself and didn’t trot out a myriad of other divisions and classes to pad the back gate. This allowed for a well-prepared track throughout the evening that provided excellent racing. There were many positive reviews given by the AMA representatives, riders, fans, and fellow promoters. All of whom are hopeful that Big Time Speedway becomes a permanent part of the National Series in the future.
The next event at Big Time Speedway will be an AMA District 36 event on Saturday, May 12 and will be Dirt Track~Flatspeed~Speedway Championship.
AMA National Speedway Round 1 at Big Time Speedway/Prairie City was absolutely awesome! Billy Janniro took the win in the main but Luke Becker walks away with 1 point more than Janniro at the end of the night!