Seven-time British Speedway Champion Scott Nicholls topped a stellar field in front of a standing-room-only crowd on an incredible night of racing as Industry Racing hosted the second Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational.
Billy "The Kid" Janniro, who won the inaugural event last year, had first choice of starting position for the Final and picked gate one. Charlie "The Edge" Venegas quickly selected gate two with second choice. Nicholls chose gate three which left former Under 21 World Champion Darcy Ward with gate four.
Janniro and Ward gated together and entered turn one side-by-side. Janniro found more traction exiting turn two and surged ahead of the Australian on the back straight and led him into turn three. Ward came into the corner too hot and got into the back of the leader. The contact caused Janniro's bike to lift and he let it go and watched as it shot into the fence. Everyone was physically intact but Janniro's machine was finished for the evening. Ward was excluded for causing the stoppage and Janniro would contest the restart on his spare bike.
Venegas was first of the line on the restart but didn't lead enough to get to the inside entering turn one. Janniro pushed Venegas wide hoping to gain an advantage but Nicholls had anticipated such a clash between his two competitors and wisely cut back and stormed up the inside for the lead on the back straight. Janniro followed him into turn three and then nudged the Englishman in turn four but Nicholls wasn't intimidated and continued to hold his lead at the end of the first lap. Janniro stalked Nicholls until going wide and allowing Venegas to take over second. Nicholls went unchallenged and led to the checkered flag. Venegas finished second, and Janniro was third.
Three Brits, two Poles, one Dane, one Australian, and three Americans who were based in Europe in 2013 joined six Californians to comprise the sixteen-rider field. The Speedway Grand Prix format of 20 heats, two semis, and a final was used to determine the event winner. In addition, there were two divisions of mini 150s and the 250 juniors also competing.
The evening kicked off with Edward Kennett of England showing three Americans that he can win on a small track. Ryan Fisher, making his first appearance at Industry Racing in several years, and Ricky Wells fought a physical battle for second which left the latter on the ground in the final corner and Fisher claiming second.
Venegas won event three but Ward spectacular behind him. The Australian trailed second-placed Billy "The Bullet" Hamill on the third lap only to wheelie past him on the inside to take second as they took the white flag. Ward, who had many fans eager to see him in person, immediately won over any who hadn't seen his dynamic performances in the past.
Two-time World Champion Greg Hancock and Janniro gated together and were handlebar-to-handlebar on the back straight before Hancock leaned on Janniro entering turn three to secure the lead. Hancock went on to score his first victory.
Tyson Burmeister began round two with a victory over Hamill.
Ward and Fisher put on a tremendous show in event six as they swapped turns at the front with each rider utilizing the cutback move to gain the lead. Ward held on for the victory.
Event seven would shake up the score chart as all four first-round winners would come to the tapes. Venegas and Hancock battled for the lead on lap one before Venegas would find the ample traction on the inside to propel him to the front. Hancock applied the pressure but the current California State Champion didn't relinquish the lead. Venegas would be the only perfect rider left.
Wells finished the second round with a win over Janniro.
Janniro opened the third round with his first win of the night followed by Burmeister while Venegas could only muster third. Hancock used the outside to pass current Under 21 World Champion Patryk Dudek on lap one and went on to his second victory of the night. Chris "Bomber" Harris led event 11 for nearly two laps before his fellow Englishman Edward Kennett swept around the outside in turn four and took the lead and the eventual victory. Wells and Ward fought at close quarters all four laps with Wells getting his second straight win to end round three.
Nicholls started round four with his second victory. Fisher scored his first win with Danish international rider Hans Andersen getting second. The first start of event 15 had to be stopped with Kennett getting excluded and severely damaging his prospects of making the semis. Janniro won the restart for his second consecutive win. Wells earned his third straight victory to end the fourth round while Hancock finished second.
With four rounds complete Hancock and Janniro each had ten points; Wells and Ward had nine apiece; Burmeister, Fisher, and Venegas had each scored eight; Nicholls had seven and Kennett had six. No other riders had a mathematical chance at the semis so it left nine fighting for eight spots in the semis.
The final round started with Burmeister getting a victory after which he showed how pumped up he was at making the semis. Harris finished ahead of Hancock and Ward.
Janniro and Fisher swapped the lead in the opening lap of event 18 and the two, who used to be teammates with the Coventry Bees, were fighting hard entering turn one the second time when contact between the two left Fisher on the ground. The red light came on and the referee deemed Fisher to be the cause of the stoppage. Fisher pleaded his case but the referee was unmoved and the lost points would prove costly. Janniro won the restart and the top-scorer status. Nicholls finished second to book his place in the semis.
Kennett entered event 19 needing a second place to leapfrog Fisher into a place in the semis. He did better than that by making a great start and leading all the way to the finish.
Venegas and Wells both needed a victory in the final heat to secure first gate choice in the semis. Venegas emerged as the victor with Wells only managing a third place.
Janniro made the best start in the first semi and led the field through lap one with Hancock, Nicholls, and Kennett in tow. Janniro won to book his place in the final with Nicholls taking second to join him.
Venegas led the second semi from start to finish with Ward finishing second to round out the field in the final. Wells and Burmeister were done for the evening.
Sterling Martin dominated the Mini 150 Second Division by winning both of his heats and romping to victory in the main event. Logan Hedden finished second, Sam Hagon was third, Slater Lightcap finished fourth, and Wilbur Hancock was fifth.
Mini 150 U.S. National Champion Sebastian Palmese led all four laps en route to victory in the Mini 150 First Division Main Event. Tom Brennan of England finished second, Courtney Crone was third, Jason Edwards of England finished fourth, and Maverick Molloy was fifth.
U.S. Junior National Champion Dillon Ruml finished second in both his heats but won when it mattered most by taking home victory in the Junior 250 Main Event. Former Junior National Champion Broc Nicol was second, Luke Becker finished third, Hayley Perrault was fourth, and Dalton Leedy finished fifth.
The second annual Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational had a lot to live up to after the resounding success of the inaugural event. It not only lived up to it but surpassed last year's event as well. Extra seating were brought in after last year's event sold out and the extra seats were filled. The racing on the track was exciting and the feedback from fans and racers has been overwhelmingly positive. Carol Perez and Kelly Inman have received well-deserved praise from the speedway world and the motorcycle industry in general. This event has become a can't-miss motor sports event. The countdown to the 2014 Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational has already begun.
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