Saddlemen

Janniro Victorious at Ventura!

| 30 June 2015 6:08 pm

AMA Speedway National Championship Series
Round 2: Ventura Raceway

Story by Steve Evans
Photos by Dorcey Wingo
VENTURA, CA, JUNE 27, 2015

Speedway returned for its annual showcase event by the sea at Ventura Raceway, and a big crowd braved unexpectedly chilly temperatures and even drizzle for round two of the AMA National Speedway Championship Series. The “Commotion by the Ocean” entered its third season on the National Championship calendar, and this was only the third stand-alone speedway event held at this facility since 2000. Once more, the event did not disappoint.

Billy Janniro (1), notching a big win in Ventura!

Billy Janniro (1), notching a big win in Ventura!

A large crowd was on hand, a combination of hard-core and local speedway race fans ready to enjoy the competition on a true European-sized racetrack. The extravaganza featured the best in the nation, speedwaywise, as well as an earlier pre-race program that featured other divisions.

The combination of youth and experience mixed perfectly in the thrilling show. While the winner, current AMA Champion Billy Janniro, was a familiar face, this event was far from the one-way traffic of 2014, as there was a teenage tidal wave of American talent in hot pursuit.

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The event was somewhat a war of attrition. Despite a brave attempt to race round two, round-one winner Billy Hamill failed to compete when it was determined that the injuries he sustained in a nasty get-off at Industry Hills a few days earlier would sideline him for the next four weeks.

Joint championship leader Aaron Fox was similarly denied a chance to progress when a three-rider accident on the first lap of the third heat race ended his night. Things went similarly for Tyson Talkington, who withdrew after the re-run. Fox complained of leg pain and a headache, but he is expected to return to action in two weeks.

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Wild-Card Heat Races
The night began with four run-off heats to determine the two-wild card spots on the 16-rider program.

Heat one was won by Charles Ermolenko, ahead of Tyler Warren. The highly rated Luke Becker was a faller.

The first run-off for a wild-card spot gets off to a fast start.

The first run-off for a wild-card spot gets off to a fast start.

Luke Becker goes down in turn one in the first wild-card heat race.

Luke Becker goes down in turn one in the first wild-card heat race.

Rocco Scopellite showed his affection for the big track by storming to the win in heat two, ahead of Jason Ramirez.

Becker made no mistakes en route to the victory in the last-chance qualifier.

Five very able and deserving riders lined up for the run-off final, but only the first two would be moving on. Scopellite made the best start, with Becker in hot pursuit.

The 16-year-old Becker dived inside Scopellite on lap two. Ramirez tried to follow suit, but Scopellite closed the door twice to take the second transfer spot. Ramirez was third, Warren finished fourth, and Ermolenko retired in fifth.

This set the scene for the main show.

After a break to grade the track and an emotional parade in which fellow riders paid tribute to grand marshal Eddie Castro, it was down to business.

Heat Races
Heat one pitted three fan favorites against one teenage phenom in a line-up worthy of any main event. It was the 18-year-old World Cup star Max Ruml who drew first blood with an emphatic defeat of Janniro, his first recent loss on the track at Ventura. Broc Nicol was third, with Dillon Ruml finishing fourth.

Max Ruml (second from right) came out smokin’ in the very first Division One heat race of the evening!

Max Ruml (second from right) came out smokin’ in the very first Division One heat race of the evening!

Luke Becker made a stunning outside pass of fellow showman Tommy Hedden to take the win in heat two.

Heat three saw a three-rider collision in turn three on lap one that resulted in an exclusion for Bryce Starks and withdrawals for both Aaron Fox and Tyson Talkington, with leg and heel injuries, respectively. Buck Blair defeated reserve rider Jason Ramirez in the re-run.

The third heat was a train wreck brewing: Just around the next bend, two riders were injured and one was excluded.

The third heat was a train wreck brewing: Just around the next bend, two riders were injured and one was excluded.

Heat four saw Scopellite once more get a fantastic start and earn the victory over veterans Bart Bast, Shawn McConnell and Charlie Venegas.

In the fourth heat, wild-card qualifier Rocco Scopellite (126) leads Charlie Venegas (right) into turn two.

In the fourth heat, wild-card qualifier Rocco Scopellite (126) leads Charlie Venegas (right) into turn two.

Heat five was a Northern California 5-1, with Bast leading home Hedden, over Dillon Ruml.

In heat six, Buck Blair (39) leads Max Ruml (center) and Luke Becker (22, outside) around turn one.

In heat six, Buck Blair (39) leads Max Ruml (center) and Luke Becker (22, outside) around turn one.

All of the round-one winners met in heat six. Max Ruml led Blair and Becker home.

Janniro made up for heat one with a win over Russell Green in heat seven.

Nicol led McConnell home in heat eight.

Heat nine – Becker’s sixth of a busy night – saw him get a second stunning win in the main show, leading home his fellow 16-year-old Dillon Ruml.

Max Ruml made it a perfect nine points in heat 10, defeating Hedden and Venegas.

Janniro led Ramirez across the line in heat 11.

Broc Nicol was the winner of heat 12. Bart “Mr. Consistent” Bast was second.

Dillon Ruml scorched to his maiden big-track win in heat 13. Scopellite finished in second place.

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Max Ruml won heat 14, ahead of Bast.

Janniro won heat 15, ahead of Blair

Nicol got his third win in heat 16, ahead of Ramirez and Becker.

Dillon Ruml made a stunning on-the-line pass of Buck Blair to win heat 17.

Max Ruml led Ramirez across the stripe to complete a 15-point maximum in the heats in heat 18.

Billy Janniro led Becker home in heat 19.

Nicol won heat 20, with Hedden securing a spot in the semifinal with a brilliant pass on Bryce Starks.

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Semifinals
The led us into the semifinal stage.

The first semi saw Max Ruml win again, comfortably. Behind him, Bast gated in second, but Becker took the outside line to make a stunning pass and an equally incredible transfer to the big final.

The first Division One semifinal is ready to go.

The first Division One semifinal is ready to go.

Semi two saw Janniro lead Nicol home, with Hedden and Blair behind them.

The second Division One semi launches off the line.

The second Division One semi launches off the line.

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Main Event
The big final was a showdown between Janniro and three teenage sensations, two of them fresh off of World Cup duty and a third surely destined to follow. Janniro, however, was dialed in, and he was not willing to give up the chance of a Ventura hat trick. Janniro gated first and was chased hard by Max Ruml and Nicol, with Becker at the back. The positions did not change throughout the final.

The final showdown gets under way…

The final showdown gets under way…

Luke Becker (22) put in 10 hard rides to make fourth in the main event.

Luke Becker (22) put in 10 hard rides to make fourth in the main event.

Broc Nicol placed third in the main.

Broc Nicol placed third in the main.

“Mad Max” Ruml, like a fury, rode to a very sound second place in the main!

“Mad Max” Ruml, like a fury, rode to a very sound second place in the main!

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It was a night to remember for American Speedway, and the expected wheelie show after the final sent the crowd home happy. Becker had an incredible 10 rides on the night and his big-track display was simply incredible!

Luke Becker (22) won a ticket into the main game through true grit.

Luke Becker (22) won a ticket into the main game through true grit.

An interesting stat – and one that shows the changing face of American Speedway – is the fact that six of the riders were teenagers, and the teens won a combined 15 of 23 heats in the main show!

The busy schedule was completed by a “pre-show” of sorts, 90 minutes before the main races, for other divisions. The finals for these classes ran in the main show to allow the Pro riders time to prep between rounds.

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Sidecars in action at Ventura.

Sidecars in action at Ventura.

Sidecars
Nine sidecar teams came out to play. Joe Jones & Tom Summers won their heat and semi and the main event. Runners-up in the closely contested final were National Champions Bryan Motis & Josh Bennett, who also won their heat and semi.

The Sidecar consolation race, ready to rumble!

The Sidecar consolation race, ready to rumble!

The Sidecar A main event gets under way.

The Sidecar A main event gets under way.

Joe Jones & Tom Summers won the Sidecar A main event.

Joe Jones & Tom Summers won the Sidecar A main event.

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Support Classes
In the Support class, heat-race victories went to Hayley Perrault, who was impressive after her UK tour, and River McDougall, who then put on an impressive repeat in the final.

The Support B main event is ready to roll.

The Support B main event is ready to roll.

The Support class lines up for their main event.

The Support class lines up for their main event.

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The Junior 250cc contest saw Jake Isaac stunning the usually unbeatable Sebastian Palmese in the heat race, though their roles were reversed in the final.

The Junior 250cc main event launches off the line!

The Junior 250cc main event launches off the line!

Sebastian Palmese (18) airmails the checkers!

Sebastian Palmese (18) airmails the checkers!

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The Vintage class had 11 entries. Heat-race wins went to Dan Waller and Johnny Walker, though Ken Thiebaud once more took the main-event victory.

The Vintage A main event gets under way.

The Vintage A main event gets under way.

In Vintage action, Bobby Hill (center) is about to high-side, bringing out the red flags…

In Vintage action, Bobby Hill (center) is about to high-side, bringing out the red flags…

The Vintage A main-event winner was Ken Thiebaud (right).

The Vintage A main-event winner was Ken Thiebaud (right).

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The Trophy Dash, for riders who did not qualify from the wild-card heats, was won by Dryden Gayle.

The Trophy Dash competitors on the grid.

The Trophy Dash competitors on the grid.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery go out to veteran Bobby Hill, who is hospitalized after a nasty high-side get-off in his heat race.

Ventura Raceway
Ventura, California
Results: June 27, 2015 (Round 2)

VINTAGE B MAIN: 1. Ron Brankov; 2. Bob Waller; 3. Tim Watters; 4. Eddie Martinez.

VINTAGE MAIN: 1.Ken Thiebaud; 2. Johnny Walker; 3. Carlin Dunne; 4. Dan Waller; 5. Harold Hartke.

JR 250: 1. Sebastian Palmese; 2. Jake Isaac; 3. Michael Wells; 4. James Blair.

TROPHY DASH: 1. Dryden Gayle; 2. Nathan Siegel; 3. Jamison Dilkey.

SUPPORT B MAIN: 1. Brandon Watters; 2. Ron Davis; 3. Lawrence McNutt; 4. Bentley Barrett.

SUPPORT A MAIN: 1. River McDougall; 2. Mike Lane; 3. Hayley Perrault; 4. Robert Curry.

SIDECAR B MAIN: 1. Dual Anderson/ Vinny Madagan; 2. Robert Curry/ Dana Catone; 3. Rick Garcia/ Andrea Fraser; 4. Gerard Jackson/ Dave German (retired).

SIDECAR A MAIN: 1. Joe Jones/ Tom Summers; 2. Bryan Motis/ Josh Bennett; 3. James Kinne/ Johnny Glover; 4. Jeff Rowe/ Ashley Gibbons.

DIVISION 1 SEMI 1: 1. Max Ruml; 2. Luke Becker; 3. Bart Bast; 4. Dillon Ruml.

DIVISION 1 SEMI 2: 1. Billy Janniro; 2. Broc Nicol; 3. Tommy Hedden; 4. Buck Blair.

DIVISION 1 FINAL: 1. Billy Janniro; 2. Max Ruml; 3. Broc Nicol; 4. Luke Becker.

AMA National Championship Series Points Standings (after 2 rounds) (unofficial) (top 14 qualify for round 3): 1. Billy Janniro (36); 2. Max Ruml (32); 3. Broc Nicol (30); 4. Bart Bast (20); 5. Billy Hamill (18); 6. Aaron Fox (18); 7. Buck Blair (16); 8. Dillon Ruml (16); 9. Luke Becker (15); 10. Tommy Hedden (15); 11. Shawn McConnell (10); 12. Jason Ramirez (8); 13. Russell Green (8); 14. Bryce Starks (8); 15. Rocco Scopellite (7); 16. Charlie Venegas (7); 17. Gage Geist (6); 18. Tyson Talkington (5).

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Category: National, Regional, Speedway, Vintage, Vintage Speedway

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