KOPP GIVES DUCATI ITS FIRST AMA PRO FLAT TRACK WIN
PRESCOTT VALLEY, AZ (May 2, 2010) It's been several years coming, but Joe Kopp gave the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Team its first AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship victory at the Budweiser Arizona Mile at Yavapai Downs. Using VP’s C12 race fuel, Kopp used a last chance pass to overtake Sammy Halbert at the finish line. The first time event was full of firsts. The first win for Ducati, the first BMW in a Flat Track National since 1954 and the first Kawasaki since 1975 to make a National Main.
All day long it appeared that Halbert was going to pick up where he left off in Daytona as he set fast time in qualifying, won the fastest heat and the five point, $1,000 Dash for Cash on his Harley-Davidson. While Kopp had been fast all day, he didn't give Halbert too much trouble in their heat as he finished second on his Latus Harley-Davidson / ENI R&M-backed Ducati well behind Halbert.
When the National started, Kopp roared to the front as Halbert suddenly looked to be off his game, dropping to third behind Zanotti Racing's Jake Johnson. On lap seven Johnson's race started to unravel as he was passed by both Halbert and Lancaster Harley-Davidson / Dallas fort Worth Honda's Chris Carr. "I realized I had to pick up the pace, I was afraid Joe was going to get away," said Halbert.
One more lap and Halbert was back in the lead and cruising. Kopp settled into second with Carr in third, but by lap thirteen Carr was under attack as Defending Grand National Twins Champion Jared Mees had his Rogers Lake Racing / Blue Springs Harley-Davidson backed Harley in contention for the last podium spot, taking third on lap fifteen. Just as suddenly on lap seventeen Kenny Coolbeth pushed his Harley-Davidson Motor Company backed XR-750 around both Carr and Mees, dropping Mees to fifth. Mees was able to regroup, re-pass Carr and just miss making a last lap pass for third.
While this was a good race, the race for the win suddenly heated up. "It looked like Sammy was having some brake problems, but he said not," said Kopp. "With a couple of laps to go I realized I had a shot. On the last lap I caught him down the back straight, but I thought I better wait for the front straight to pass him. I was just barely able to draft past at the finish line."
"I let this one get away, it's a learning experience for me I'll not let that happen again," said Halbert. "I should have won this."
Earlier in the day Rod Lake / Mike Velasco / Brothers Powersport's Brad Baker had captured the Pro Singles Main as he led the twelve lap race wire to wire.