A victory at the Daytona Flat Track has eluded Kenny Coolbeth Jr. over the years. On Friday night, he finally hoisted the winner’s trophy as a champion at the “World Center of Racing.”
Coolbeth Jr., riding the No. 2 Honda, slipped past Jake Johnson’s No. 5 Honda on Lap 5 and drove away from the 18-rider field to win the 25-lap AMA Pro Grand National Expert Singles Main Event at the Daytona Flat Track.
“I’ve wanted this one for a long time,” said the 36-year-old Coolbeth Jr., whose margin of victory was 4.069 seconds. “I’ve got seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths all the way back. I’ve been working hard all winter. Obviously a good team, I think we have the best equipment and this is a good way to open the season.”
The victory was Coolbeth Jr.’s 30th career Grand National Championship win.
“Kenny found something, he was on fire,” Johnson said. “We’ve been friends for a long time. If somebody was going to take it away from me, I was glad it was him.”
Stevie Bonsey completed the Honda sweep of the podium.
In the Pro Singles Main event, Brandon Wilhelm (Honda), who finished third on Thursday night, brought home the victory by a margin of .520 seconds.
“I can’t believe this is happening right now,” said Wilhelm of Aurora, Ind. “It feels so good. The track was slick and I had to work the throttle and it turned out in my favor. It’s a great feeling.”
Wilhelm, Justin Jones (Honda) and Ryan Wells (KTM) broke away from the rest of the field for most of the race. But with a few laps remaining, Gerit Callies put down his Honda in Turn 3 bringing out the red flag and setting up a five-lap shootout.
Wilhelm led the final five laps with Justin Jones slipping to third after being passed by runner-up finisher Davis Fisher (Honda), his first career podium.
Wells, who won Thursday night’s Pro Singles Main Event, slipped back to fifth.
In the six-lap Expert Dash For Cash, featuring the top two riders in each of the Expert Heats, was won by Johnson. Riders winning the 10-lap Expert Heats were Bonsey, Johnson and Brandon Robinson. In the Expert semifinals Mikey Rush and Daniel Ingram captured the victories.
On Saturday, motorcycle racing at Daytona International Speedway concludes with the 73rd Daytona 200 and the SuperBike Race 2. For more information and tickets for all Daytona 200 Week events, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.
Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for the latest news all season long. Fans can also follow the latest on DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation at the “World Center of Racing” by using #DAYTONARising on Twitter or visiting www.daytonarising.com.
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