Costa Mesa Speedway
Orange County Fairgrounds
Costa Mesa, California
39th U.S. National Speedway Championship
September 29, 2007 - Costa Mesa
By: Ryan Evans
Billy "The Bullet" Hamill was undefeated and won the U.S. National Speedway Championship in dramatic fashion to secure his claim as the undisputed National Champion at the world famous Costa Mesa Speedway.
Hamill was perfect in his heats and earned first gate choice. He debated, but eventually selected the inside starting position. Former National Champion Chris Manchester picked gate two, Ryan Fisher then chose gate five, defending champion Charlie Venegas picked gate three, which left Ricky Wells with gate four.
Manchester launched into the lead and exited turn two with Fisher trying to make a run on the outside and Hamill on the inside. At the end of lap one Hamill had made up significant ground. Manchester drifted wide in turn two which would prove to be his undoing. Hamill pounced on the opportunity and streaked by on the inside. Manchester got back to the inside behind Hamill while Fisher drifted back and Venegas moved into third. Hamill was never threatened after assuming the lead and raced away with the title. Manchester finished second, Venegas was third, Fisher finished fourth, and Wells was fifth.
It was the second SRA National title for Hamill which, when added to his four AMA titles, give him six overall. Hamill is the only rider to hold both titles simultaneously and he has done so twice, the other time was in 2002.
Hamill's evening almost began on a sour note. Hamill was leading the first race, but began to slow with bike problems. Fortunately, for him, the red light was on due to an unsatisfactory start. Hamill was forced to switch to his spare machine, but blitzed the field for a convincing win while Manchester and Venegas had to settle for third and fourth, respectively. The only heat race losses that either rider would suffer.
Race two got physical in turn one and Jimmy Fishback emerged with the lead and held off Canadian National Champion Aaron Hesmer for the win. Fisher was stormed to the win over Bobby Krips in race three. Wells led from start to finish over Tommy Hedden in race four. Dukie Ermolenko, in his first appearance of the season, beat Buck Blair while former national champions Mike Faria and Scott Brant were relegated to third and fourth.
Hamill trapped the field and scored another runaway win over Gary Hicks and Wells to begin round two. Bobby Schwartz defeated Shawn McConnell after a close battle for the win in race seven. Venegas scored his first win over Blair in the next event. Manchester beat Ermolenko for his first win in race nine. Fisher used a brilliant cutback manuever on Faria to earn his second win and complete the second round.
The third round began with Schwartz jumping into the lead, but Venegas went to the outside. The two veterans battled side-by-side for two and a half laps before Venegas found enough grip to secure the lead and the win.
Hamill and Fisher came to the tapes in race 12 as the only undefeated riders left in the field. Hamill left little doubt as he romped to victory number three with Fisher a distant second.
Blair beat McConnell for his first win in race thirteen.
Faria injured his knee prior to race fourteen and withdrew from the meeting. Manchester made it two with a runaway win.
Wells finished round three with his second victory.
The final round began with Fishback putting himself into the Last Chance with his second win and Randy DiFrancesco's second place was enough to get him into the semi. Hamill kept his score perfect with his fourth straight win in race 17. Hedden put himself into the semi with a win over McConnell in race 18.
Venegas used the outside again, this time his victim was Fisher, in the penultimate heat and put himself into the semi. Fisher's second was enough to put him straight into the Final.
The final race had huge implications as three riders could put themselves directly into the Final with a victory. Blair jumped into the lead, but Manchester showed his mettle with an outside pass to take the lead. Wells followed Manchester's wide line and took over second, but the 16 year old couldn't catch the three-time Champion. Manchester's win put him into the Final. Blair came right back onto the track to beat McConnell in a runoff for the final guaranteed spot in the Last Chance.
In the five-rider semi, McConnell battled outside-riding Hedden, but his low line proved superior and he earned the one and only transfer into the Last Chance.
Venegas was first off the line in the Last Chance and never looked back en route to the transfer into the Final. Wells proved unflappable under the pressure and finished second to earn a slot in the Final.
Chad Hoyt passed Joey Holt on the first lap and led the rest of the way to win the Youth Main. Brad Pappalardo finished second, Rocco Scopellite was third, Joey Holt finished fourth, and Braydan Galvin was fifth.
The National Championship was not the final event of the season at Costa Mesa. The annual Fall Classic this Saturday will bring the curtain down on the 2007 season.
154 - Chad Hoyt
611 - Brad Pappalardo
9 - Rocco Scopellite
4 - Joey Holt
2 - Braydan Galvin
Scorechart 1 2 3 4 T
1 - Charlie Venegas 0 3 3 3 9
3 - Gary Hicks 1 2 0 N 3
6 - Shawn McConnell 2 2 2 2 8
9 - Mike Faria 1 2 N N 3
10 - Scott Brant 0 1 2 1 4
11 - Bobby Schwartz 0 3 2 0 5
12 - Randy DiFrancesco 1 1 1 2 5
12C - Aaron Hesmer 2 0 0 0 2
13 - Nate Perkins F 1 1 2 4
15 - Dukie Ermolenko 3 2 0 0 5
19 - Dale Facchini 1 0 1 0 2
24 - Bobby Krips 2 0 1 1 4
25 - Jimmy Fishback 3 1 2 3 9
36 - Ryan Fisher 3 3 2 2 10
39 - Buck Blair 2 2 3 1 8
40 - Tommy Hedden 2 0 1 3 6
72e - Tuff McBride 0 0 0 0 0
104 - Billy Hamill 3 3 3 3 12
130 - Chris Manchester 1 3 3 3 10
142 - Ricky Wells 3 1 3 2 9
37 - Denny Scopellite (R) 0 1 - - 1
22 - Mike Bloom (R) 1 - - - 1
1: Hamill, McConnell, Manchester, Venegas
2: Fishback, Hesmer, Facchini, Schwartz
3: Fisher, Krips, Hicks, McBride
4: (restarted) Wells, Hedden, DiFrancesco, Perkins (penalty line) (fell)
5: Ermolenko, Blair, Faria, Brant
6: Hamill, Hicks, Wells, Hesmer
7: Schwartz, McConnell, Brant, Krips
8: (restarted) Venegas, Blair, Fishback, Hedden
9: Manchester, Ermolenko, Perkins, McBride
10: Fisher, Faria, DiFrancesco, Facchini (fell, remounted)
11: Venegas, Schwartz, Perkins, Hicks
12: Hamill, Fisher, Hedden, Ermolenko
13: Blair, McConnell, DiFrancesco, Hesmer
14: Manchester, Fishback, Krips, Scopellite, Faria (non starter)
15: Wells, Brant, Facchini, McBride
16: (restarted) Fishback, DiFrancesco (penalty line), Bloom, Ermolenko, Hicks (non starter)
17: (restarted) Hamill, Perkins, Krips (penalty line), Facchini (penalty line)
18: Hedden, McConnell, Scopellite, McBride (tape penalty), Faria (non starter)
19: Venegas, Fisher, Brant, Hesmer (tape penalty)
20: Manchester, Wells, Blair, Schwartz
Runoff: Blair, McConnell
6 - Shawn McConnell
40 - Tommy Hedden
15 - Dukie Ermolenko
12 - Randy DiFrancesco
11 - Bobby Schwartz (retired)
1 - Charlie Venegas
142 - Ricky Wells
6 - Shawn McConnell
25 - Jimmy Fishback
39 - Buck Blair (retired)
U.S. National Championship Final
104 - Billy Hamill
130 - Chris Manchester
1 - Charlie Venegas
36 - Ryan Fisher
142 - Ricky Wells