DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Sammy Halbert outlasted Johnny Lewis and Jake Johnson to win the 25-lap Expert Main Event on the first night of the AMA Pro Grand National Singles Championship at the quarter-mile Daytona Flat Track at Daytona International Speedway.
Halbert, aboard a Yamaha, was locked in a three-way battle for the lead with Honda riders Johnny Lewis and Jake Johnson, and came out on top by a margin of victory of .234 seconds.
“It was not an easy task,” Halbert said. “I somehow managed to pull it off. I had to hang on for dear life. It’s a great way to start the season.”
Lewis, the Expert fastest qualifier earlier in the day with a lap of 18.957 seconds, settled for runner-up honors followed by Johnson in third.
Johnson, the defending series champion, led the first 16 laps but then began to exchange the lead with Halbert.
“I was running a pretty good pace but I could feel those guys the whole time,” said Johnson, the defending series champion.
Seven-time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr, who will retire following the 2011 season, qualified for the Expert Main by finishing fourth in his Expert Heat. He finished 15th in the main event.
The legendary Carr has the distinction of having raced the Daytona Flat Track at all three venues -- old Memorial Stadium, Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium and the current Daytona Flat Track at Daytona International Speedway.
Honda swept the top seven spots in the 16-lap Pro Singles Main event with Californian Mike Avila taking home the victory by a margin of 0.951 seconds.
“I knew my bike was going to be fast all day,” Avila said. “It was just a matter of putting it together.”
Rounding out the podium was Gerit Callies in second and Austin Greenland in third.
Winning Expert Heats were Johnny Lewis (Honda), Halbert (Yamaha), and Henry Wiles (Kawasaki). In the four-lap Cometic Gasket Expert Dash For Cash, which showcases the top two finishers in the Expert Heats, Sammy Halbert held off Jake Johnson by 0.149 seconds with Henry Wiles rounding out the top three.
Tickets for each night of Daytona Flat Track racing are $25 for reserved seats, $20 for general admission standing room only and can be purchased online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.