Cycle News

Cycle News 2014 Issue 42 October 21

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 122 of 131

CN III ARCHIVES BY LARRY LAWRENCE T he 2014 AMA Pro Grand Nation- al Championship will go down as one of the best-fought battles in the 60-year history of the champi- onship, in spite of an unsatisfying end where the title was decided by a broken oil sight glass on Bryan Smith's Kawasaki in the penultimate round at Calistoga. You could also look all the way back to the Day- tona Short Track where Smith suf- fered a flat tire, causing him to miss a main. It will definitely go down as a season of 'what ifs' for Smith and his Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio Ka- wasaki team. The series came within three points of having a Kawasaki win the AMA Grand National Championship, which would have truly been an historic happening. Hopefully, Kawasaki will take note of the team's accomplishments and potential and give them major backing in 2015. The fact is that while newly crowned champ Jared Mees won fewer races (two versus Smith's five wins), Mees is still a better all-around rider. In addition he's put together an experienced Rodgers Racing Harley-Davidson team financed by a group of longtime enthusiasts, with backing from Harley- Davidson and the proven tuning skills of Kenny Tol- bert. This marks the eighth Grand National Cham- pionship as a tuner for Tolbert, but his first in nine years. He was awarded the prestigious Grand Na- tional Championship Mechanic of the Year Award, along with co-tuner Sammy Sweet. Mees is a better season-long rider than Smith be- cause he's a race contender at every track on the schedule. Different riders tend to come to the fore depending on if it's a cushion track or a clay groove, a racy TT or a rough-and-tumble short track, but you can always depend on Mees battling for the win, or at the very least a podium, regardless of the track. Here's a comparison of the Grand National Singles race results of Mees and Smith. These rounds include the Daytona Short Track double- header, the Castle Rock and Peoria TT races. Mees went (5th, 12th, 4th and 2nd). Smith mean- while went (DNQ, 8th, 10th and 7th). That trans- lates to 60 points for Mees in those four GNC Singles rounds alone to just 34 for Smith. Some fans will always cry foul about Smith's DQ at Calistoga for ignoring a black flag when his bike was smoking, but Smith himself knows (and has said as much) that it was his perfor- mances on his GNC Singles bike that kept him from securing this year's title. Look for him to do whatever it takes to improve his performances on Singles next season. I'm guessing Smith will spend a fair amount of his off-season turning a lot of laps on a 450. On the plus side for Smith he and his team finally made the Kawasaki a winner on the half miles. It was an eventual night in July at Hagerstown Speedway. There Smith, the rider who gave Kawasaki its first AMA Grand National Mile victory back in 2010, finally broke through and scored an historic win on a Kawasaki at a half mile. It marked the first ever victory on an AMA A GRAND NATIONAL SEASON IN REVIEW P122

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