Costa Mesa Speedway
Orange County Fairgrounds
Costa Mesa, California
37th US National Champioship
September 24, 2005 - Costa Mesa
By: Ryan Evans
Chris Manchester took home his third National Championship with an outstanding performance at the world famous Costa Mesa bullring oval.
Manchester had first choice of starting position and selected gate one. Three-time National Champion Mike Faria picked gate two with the second choice. Ryan Fisher chose gate three which left gate four to 2000 National Champion Charlie Venegas.
All four riders staged, but there was movement by Faria and then Fisher just before the tapes went up. The red light came on immediately and it was Fisher who received the admonishment from the referee, but all four were allowed to restart.
The riders staged again and Manchester jumped into the lead. Fisher immediately went on the attack on the outside as they raced down the back straight. Fisher continued his outside line through turn three and appeared to have enough momentum to make a serious challenge at Manchester's lead. The leader wisely drifted wide on the front straight and blocked Fisher's line. Fisher brushed the wall and bobbled but was undeterred and chased Manchester through turns one and two and on the back straight. Manchester went a little wider into turn three leaving a gap that Fisher tried to dive into but he was carrying too much speed and went down. The trailing Faria and Venegas both missed Fisher, but Manchester was long gone and cruised the final two laps to the title amid a standing ovation. Faria finished second, Venegas was third, and Fisher finished fourth.
The 37th running of the National Championship utilized the same format as last year. A sixteen rider field competing in the standard twenty-race format with the top three riders transferring directly to the main and third through seventh going to the B Main. The winner of the B Main transfers to the Main Event.
Round one began with Bryan Yarrow holding off fellow Northern California rider Chris Kerr to take the first win of the evening. Shaun Harmatiuk defeated former champions Bart Bast and Bobby Schwartz to win race two.
Randy DiFrancesco was first off the line in the third race with Fisher in second and hungry for more. Fisher chased DiFrancesco for three laps and his persistence paid off when he went by on the inside as they took the white flag. Fisher went on to his first victory.
The last race of round one was a showdown of two championship favorites, Manchester and Faria, with a result that could ultimately affect the main event. Manchester got the start while Faria gave chase. Manchester's lead was never threatened and his victory ultimately allowed him first choice in the main event due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Faria came right back to open the second round with a victory over Venegas. DiFrancesco made his second good start of the evening and this time he made it stick with a victory over Schwartz. Manchester scored his second straight victory in event seven.
Bast got the start in race eight but it was Fisher again trying to come from the back to get a victory. Bast led into the final lap but Fisher maintained constant pressure and pushed his way by Bast in the final corner to steal the victory. Bast went down and was passed by McConnell before he could remount and finish.
Schwartz began round three with a win over Castro that was definitely popular with the crowd.
The only undefeated riders met in a pivotal race ten matchup. Manchester got the jump on Fisher who didn't give up without a fight. Manchester wasn't going to fall victim to Fisher's heroics, though, and held on for the victory.
Venegas defeated Bast to score his first victory of the evening in event 11.
Race 12 ended in a heap in turn one with Bobby Krips getting the worst end of it. His night was over with an injury to his right leg. Faria was an easy winner of the restart.
At intermission, Manchester was atop the point standings with a perfect nine points; Faria and Fisher were each tied with eight; Schwartz, DiFrancesco, Venegas, and Harmatiuk all had six.
Fisher began the fourth round with an easy victory. Faria defeated Yarrow to win race 14. McConnell scored his first win of the night ahead of Tommy Hedden in race 15.
The final race of round four brought three former champions to the tapes and all were in the hunt for this year's title. Schwartz made a brilliant gate with Venegas and Manchester trailing. Schwartz held the lead after one lap, but Venegas had his hands full with Manchester who desperately needed second to remain tied with Faria in points. Manchester went by Venegas at the end of lap two and set his sights on Schwartz. The 49 year old veteran was not going to be denied, though, and he was first to the checkered flag while receiving an electric standing ovation from the crowd.
The final round began with Manchester needing victory to ensure first choice in the main event. In the first race of the round, he overcame the pressure and calmly raced to victory.
Venegas got the start in race eighteen with McConnell in second on the back straight. McConnell began to suffer engine problems and slowed which tied up Yarrow and allowed Harmatiuk to take second. Venegas went on to victory but would have to wait to see when his next race would be.
Faria and Fisher entered race 19 as virtual locks for the main event, but a major mistake could allow Schwartz, also in the race, to secure a spot. Faria took the lead from the start and led Fisher all the way to the checkered, but Nate Perkins stayed ahead of Schwartz and cost him an important point.
Buck Blair was victorious in race 20 over Castro, whose second place put him in a runoff to get into the B Main.
Four riders would square off in a runoff for the final spot in the B Main. Yarrow got the start in the first attempt but Castro got into the back of him in turn four and brought out the red flag. Castro was penalized on the restart. Yarrow got the jump again and ran away with the win and the right to enter the B Main.
Venegas had first choice of starting position in the B Main and selected the pole. It proved to be a wise choice as he got the best start and blazed to victory and earned the final spot in the four-rider field in the main. Schwartz finished second, Harmatiuk was third, and Yarrow finished fourth.
Manchester's victory puts him in an elite group of riders who have won at least three championships. A split in racing associations has resulted in 44 championships in the past 37 years with the 2005 AMA title yet to be decided. In that period of time only Mike Faria, Billy Hamill, Greg Hancock, and Mike Bast have stop atop the podium at least three times.
The pursuit of the SRA National Championship may have concluded, but Costa Mesa's season has not. The final event of the season, The Fall Classic, will be held on Saturday, October 15.
Scoring 1 2 3 4 5 T
6 - Shawn McConnell 0 2 1 3 E 6
8n - Bryan Yarrow 3 0 1 2 1 7
9 - Mike Faria 2 3 3 3 3 14
11 - Bobby Schwartz 1 2 3 3 0 9
12 - Randy DiFrancesco 2 3 1 0 1 7
14 - Eddie Castro 0 2 2 1 2 7
24 - Bobby Krips 0 0 N - - 0
27n - Chris Kerr 2 1 0 2 2 7
36 - Ryan Fisher 3 3 2 3 2 13
39 - Buck Blair 1 1 0 1 3 6
40n - Tommy Hedden 0 0 0 2 1 3
43 - Charlie Venegas 1 2 3 1 3 10
87 - Bart Bast 2 1 2 0 0 5
130 - Chris Manchester 3 3 3 2 3 14
389 - Nate Perkins 1 0 1 2 1 5
248 - Brian Starr (R) 0 0 - - - 0
37 - Denny Scopellite 0 - - - - 0
1: Yarrow, Kerr, Perkins, Krips
2: Harmatiuk, Bast, Schwartz, Hedden
3: Fisher, DiFrancesco, Venegas, Castro (fell, remounted)
4: Manchester, Faria, Blair, McConnell (fell, remounted)
5: Faria, Venegas, Kerr, Hedden
6: DiFrancesco, Schwartz, Blair, Yarrow
7: Manchester, Castro, Harmatiuk, Perkins
8: Fisher, McConnell, Bast (fell, remounted), Krips (fell, remounted)
9: Schwartz, Castro, McConnell, Kerr
10: Manchester, Fisher, Yarrow, Hedden (fell, remounted)
11: Venegas, Bast, Perkins, Blair
12: (restarted) Faria, Harmatiuk, DiFrancesco, Starr, Krips (non starter - injured)
13: Fisher, Kerr, Blair, Harmatiuk
14: Faria, Yarrow, Castro, Bast
15: McConnell, Hedden, Perkins, DiFrancesco
16: Schwartz, Manchester, Venegas, Scopellite
17: Manchester, Kerr, DiFrancesco, Bast
18: Venegas, Harmatiuk, Yarrow, McConnell (engine failure)
19: Faria, Fisher, Perkins, Schwartz
20: Blair, Castro, Hedden, Starr
Runoff: (restarted twice) Yarrow, Castro (penalty line), Kerr, DiFrancesco
43 - Charlie Venegas
11 - Bobby Schwartz
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk
8n - Bryan Yarrow
National Championship Main Event
130 - Chris Manchester
9 - Mike Faria
43 - Charlie Venegas
36 - Ryan Fisher (fell, remounted)