AMA Speedway National Championship Series Round 1 - Costa Mesa, CA, USA - Ryan Evans
Billy “The Bullet” Hamill launched his campaign to regain the AMA National Championship by winning Round 1 of the National Championship Series at the world famous Costa Mesa Speedway.
Aaron Fox, who spent last season competing in Britain, entered the Final as the top scorer which granted him the first choice of starting position. He pondered his options briefly before picking gate one. Hamill wasted little time in choosing gate two. Billy “The Kid” Janniro selected gate four which left Broc Nicol with gate three.
Hamill beat his competitors to turn one and clamped down to the pole to protect against Fox while Janniro tried to sweep around the outside. The racers remained in that formation through lap one with Hamill firmly controlling the lead with Janniro losing ground to the front two. Fox searched for a way past the leader but there were no openings. The former World Champion led all the way to the checkered flag, Fox settled for second, Janniro finished third, and Nicol was fourth.
Fourteen riders were seeded into the 16-rider championship field. A round of Wild Card heats consisting of 12 riders were held to fill the final two positions. Tyler Warren won the first Wild Card heat and advanced to the Wild Card Final. Bobby “Boogaloo” Schwartz was comfortably winning the second Wild Card heat when River McDougall went down behind him and forced a restart. Sixteen year old Gage Geist took advantage of the second chance and won the second attempt. Two-time Junior National Champion Dillon Ruml won the third Wild Card heat. Schwartz qualified for the Wild Card Final because he was the fastest second-placed rider. However, the former National Champion declined his spot. Rocco Scopellite hustled up to the pit gate thinking he would fill the position but was informed that it was an earned spot and there would not be a substitution. Dillon Ruml and Geist finished one-two and qualified for the championship field and Warren suffered an engine failure which would prevent him from being first reserve for the evening.
Hamill kicked off the heats with a win over Fox. Janniro defeated Dillon Ruml in the second heat. Buck Blair touched the tapes and was excluded from event three. This brought in Scopellite since neither Warren nor Schwartz were serving as reserve. When the race finally began, Charlie “The Edge” Venegas beat Tyson Talkington. Max Ruml held off Nicol to end round one with a victory.
Max Ruml started round two with his second straight victory. Luke Becker led event six but made a big mistake in turn three which caused Shawn McConnell and Bart Bast to take evasive action and allowed Dillon Ruml to take the lead and the win. Tommy Hedden defeated Talkington in the next event.
Event eight brought the same four competitors to the tapes who made the Final of the Connor Penhall Memorial Cup just three nights earlier – Hamill, Janniro, Blair, and Nicol. Hamill’s bid for two straight wins ended a couple yards in front of the tapes when his bike stopped because the fuel wasn’t turned on. Thus, Janniro romped to the victory.
Fox began the third round by beating Nicol for his first victory. Blair held off Bast to win event 10. Janniro defeated Venegas for his third consecutive win. Hamill scorched the track for a win to end round three.
Fox trapped from the outside and opened round four with a win ahead of Blair. A showdown between undefeated racers Max Ruml and Janniro never materialized when the former was excluded for touching the tapes. Bast was up to the challenge, though, and defeated Janniro to take the first point from the defending AMA National Champion. Nicol beat Russell Green in event 15 for his first win. Hamill was victorious in the last race of the fourth round.
Entering the final round of heats, Janniro stood on top with 11 points, Fox had 10 points, Nicol and Hamill each had nine, Max Ruml had eight points, and Blair, Bast, and Dillon Ruml had six points apiece.
Fox and Nicol finished one-two in the first semi and both advanced to the Final. Hamill stormed to victory in the second semi while Janniro used every bit of his track craft to hold off Max Ruml to secure his place in the Final.
The Costa Mesa event was the first of four rounds of the series. The next round will be held Saturday, June 27 at Ventura Raceway. Round three will be at Industry Racing on Saturday, August 8 with the Series Finale at Fast Fridays in Auburn, California on Friday, September 18.
The Youth Speedway divisions were also part of the program. Slater Lightcap defeated Luke Whitcomb in the Mini 150 Main Event and Sebastian Palmese won the Junior 250 Main Event ahead of Jake Isaac, Michael Wells, and James Blair.
The next event at Costa Mesa Speedway will be Harley Night on Saturday, June 13. The program will have speedway, sidecars, and the always wild street-legal Harley races.
Score chart 1 2 3 4 5 T S F T
Wild Card Heat 1a: (restarted) Warren, Dalbey, Gayle, Galvin (fell)
AMA SPEEDWAY NATIONAL SERIES POINTS / STANDINGS / ROUND 1 FINISHING POSITIONS - Steve Evans
Billy Hamill rolled back the years and dominated round 1 of the AMA National Championship at Costa Mesa Speedway on May 30th. Hamill won every ride he completed, a mechanical failure in his second ride robbed him of the chance of a full house in the Grand Prix style event.
The event and series had a much improved and deeper line up than in 2014, when defending champion Billy Janniro strolled to the title, winning 27 of 28 heats in the process. Janniro started off with three straight wins on the night and it locked like business as usual, but then 2nd places to veteran Bart Bast in round 4, Aaron Fox in round 5, Hamill in semi final number 2 and both Hamill and Fox in he final meant his 5 round winning streak dating back to the 2013 finale was broken. Fox, fresh from his season with the Edinburgh Monarchs in the UK, was simply outstanding and challenged the big two on equal footing. After two second places he reeled off four straight wins before coming second behind Hamill in the final.
The young guns shone – Team USA SWC reserve Broc Nicol placed fourth, the nerves in the final perhaps getting the better of him with a tapes infringement. Max Ruml, fell Team USA member, came 5th with 11 impressive points in the heats but also with the tapes catching him out in his fourth outing. This led to him placing third in a very tough semi final with Hamill and Janniro.
Ruml's 16 year old brother Dillon impressed with points and a berth in the semi finals. With fellow 16 year old Luke Becker, whose round the boards charges showed he is one to one watch, and 15 year old Gage Geist competing as rookies at the highest domestic level, the future for American Speedway seems very bright.
The night belonged to Hamill who simply was too fast for the rest of the field just days after his 45th birthday.
Points after Round 1
Top 14 are qualified into round 2 Ventura.
Quick Results from the AMA Speedway National Championship Series Round 1.
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