Saddlemen

Janniro Wins Eighth National Title!

| 19 September 2017 4:03 pm

AMA National Speedway Championship Series
Round 4: Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway at the Gold Country Fairgrounds

Story and Photos by Michael Kirby
AUBURN, CA, SEPT. 16, 2017

Billy Janniro came into Saturday night’s fourth round of the 2017 AMA Speedway National Championship at Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway at the Gold Country Fairgrounds with a target on his back. However, Janniro has had that big bull’s-eye on his back as the man to beat in National Speedway for so long that it is now just a part of his racing leathers. It looks like that target will stay where it’s at for at least another year, as Janniro won his eighth National Championship in convincing style in Auburn, California.

Billy Janniro celebrates his winning of the 2017 AMA Speedway National Championship – his eighth National Speedway Championship.

Billy Janniro celebrates his winning of the 2017 AMA Speedway National Championship – his eighth National Speedway Championship.

Coming into Saturday’s fourth and final round of the 2017 championship, Janniro, 36, held seven National Championships, from the years 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013 through 2016, and he was looking for his eighth – a goal that would tie him with Greg Hancock, who began racing in Europe in 1989 and is a four-time Grand Prix World Champion. Hancock last won the AMA Speedway National Championship in 2009.

Billy Janniro’s winning form during the 2017 AMA Speedway National Championship’s final round at Auburn’s Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway.

Billy Janniro’s winning form during the 2017 AMA Speedway National Championship’s final round at Auburn’s Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway.

Chasing Janniro for a share of the $10,000 purse were several young riders who watched him race as they were coming up through the Youth program and began riding in Division One – and who regularly give him a good run for his money.

Max Ruml 19, came into Saturday’s fourth round just four points behind Janniro after three rounds. Max was seen as Janniro’s biggest threat. Ruml also has been the runner-up for the last two years, finishing second to Janniro in 2015 and 2016.

Also coming into round four in the National Championship hunt were Luke Becker, 17, who won round one, and Broc Nicol 17, who won rounds two and three and brought 44 points into round four. Gino Manzares 23, and Max’s brother Dillon Ruml, 17, each could play the spoiler and could make it tough for Janniro.

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The racing was scored three points for first, two points for second, one point for third, and zero points for a fourth-place finish. Two titles were at stake. There would be a series winner of round four and, of course, the crowning of the National Champion.

Janniro scored 20 points for the night – just one point off a perfect score – to win round four, and he ended the championship series with 72 total points to win the National Championship. The one point he dropped was to Ruml, when the two met in the fifth heat race.

Max Ruml rode well all evening and was seriously challenging Janniro. Max beat Janniro in heat five but stumbled in heat 13, finishing third and dropping two points.

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The top eight riders of the night after 20 heat races were then seeded into two semifinal races, with the top two finishers from each semifinal advancing to the Grand Final.

Janniro won the first semifinal and Aaron Fox was second.

The second semifinal was won by Max Ruml. Luke Becker finished second to advance to the Grand Final, along with Janniro and Fox.

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For the Grand Final, Janniro already had enough points to have his eighth AMA Speedway National Championship. However, still up for grabs was the victory of the fourth round of the championship series. Janniro brought 17 points to the table and Max Ruml brought 16 points. Fox came in with 12 points, and Becker brought 13 points.

Janniro chose lane one. Max Ruml took lane two. Fox was in three, and Becker was out in four.

Preparing for the start of the Grand Final are (from left to right) Luke Becker, Aaron Fox, Max Ruml and Billy Janniro. Janniro won the race, the fourth round in the championship series, and the National Championship.

Preparing for the start of the Grand Final are (from left to right) Luke Becker, Aaron Fox, Max Ruml and Billy Janniro. Janniro won the race, the fourth round in the championship series, and the National Championship.

When the tapes went up, it was clear that Janniro was out to make a clean sweep, and although Max pestered him a little, Janniro closed the deal with the win. Max Ruml was second, Fox was third, and Becker finished fourth.

Janniro finished with 20 round-four points and 72 National Championship Series points – and his AMA number-one plate. Ruml finished with 17 round-four points and 65 National Championship Series points.

Max Ruml (5) finished second in the AMA Speedway National Championship for the third year in a row. Ruml finished just seven points behind winner Billy Janniro.

Max Ruml (5) finished second in the AMA Speedway National Championship for the third year in a row. Ruml finished just seven points behind winner Billy Janniro.

“It was a tough week,” Janniro said. “I was only four points up coming into the last round. To tell you the truth, I haven’t been doing great lately, but when I showed up tonight, I was 100-percent focused, taking one race at a time. We are definitely looking for [championship number] nine, then 10, and then we’ll talk about it after that.”

Eight-time AMA Speedway National Champion Billy Janniro holds his number-one plate after the Grand Final race. Janniro is now tied with World Champion Greg Hancock for National Championships.

Eight-time AMA Speedway National Champion Billy Janniro holds his number-one plate after the Grand Final race. Janniro is now tied with World Champion Greg Hancock for National Championships.

Celebrating the 2017 National Speedway Championship are (from left to right) Max Ruml, Billy Janniro and Broc Nicol. Janniro won his eighth National Championship, Ruml was second, and Nicol was third.

Celebrating the 2017 National Speedway Championship are (from left to right) Max Ruml, Billy Janniro and Broc Nicol. Janniro won his eighth National Championship, Ruml was second, and Nicol was third.

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In the Junior program, Sterling Martin won the Youth Speedway main event. Kyle Cunningham was second, Dylan Wagner was third, and Timmy Dion was fourth.

In the Consolation main event, Landon Norton was first, Anthony Dion was second, Greg Moore was third, and Landon Collins was fourth.

Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway at the Gold Country Fairgrounds
Auburn, California
Results: September 16, 2017

AMA SPEEDWAY NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: 1. Billy Janniro (72); 2. Max Ruml (65); 3. Broc Nicol (52); 4. Gino Manzares (50); 5. Luke Becker (45); 6. Dillon Ruml (41); 7. Aaron Fox (33); 8. Austin Novratil (30); 9. Gage Geist (24); 10. Eddie Castro (10); 11. Russell Green (21); 12. Daniel Faria (20); 13. Tommy Hedden (17); 14. Ryan Fisher (14); 15. Bart Bast (10); 16. Bryan Yarrow (7); 17. Charlie Venegas (6)/ Bobby Schwartz (6); 19. Robbie Sauer (4); 20. Neil Facchini (3).

AMA SPEEDWAY NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP (Round 4): 1. Billy Janniro (20); 2. Max Ruml (17); 3. Aaron Fox (13)/ Luke Becker (13); 5. Gino Manzares (11); 6. Bart Bast (10); 11. Tommy Hedden (6); 12. Danny Faria (5); 13. Gage Geist (4); 14. Russell Green (3)/ Kurtis Hamill (3); 16. Eddie Castro (2).

YOUTH MAIN: 1. Sterling Martin; 2. Kyle Cunningham; 3. Dylan Wagner; 4. Timmy Dion.

YOUTH CONSOLATION: 1. Landon Norton; 2. Anthony Dion; 3. Greg Moore; 4. Landon Collins.

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