2007 Fast Fridays Speedway
Gold Country Fairgrounds
2007 AMA Sports/USA Speedway National Championship - Final Round
Fast Fridays, Auburn, California USA - August 31, 2007
By: Ryan Evans
Billy "The Bullet" Hamill clinched his fourth National Championship by winning every race, including the A Final, at the final round of the AMA/USA Speedway National Championship Series at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn.
Hamill entered the A Final as top scorer which earned him an extra series point. That point afforded him the luxury of only needing to finish one place behind Greg Hancock to win the title. Hamill selected the inside starting position. Charlie "The Edge" Venegas then picked gate two, Bart Bast chose gate three, which left Hancock with the outside.
Hamill exploded off the line and led into turn one. Hamill exited turn two with the lead with Hancock trying to find traction on the outside. Hamill's inside line proved superior and Hancock switched his attack to the bottom of the track to try to force a mistake. Hamill remained poised under the pressure and Hancock tried the outside once more but it was to no avail. Hamill secured the win and the title, Hancock had to settle for second, and Venegas finished third. Bast finished fourth, but claimed fourth overall in the series.
Hamill's victory ended Hancock's streak of four consecutive national championships and also prevented him from a record-breaking eighth title overall. It was Hamill's first championship since winning in 2002, the first year the title was decided using a multi-round format.
Four elimination races held prior to the championship culminated in Ryan Fisher, who missed the first two rounds while competing in the British Elite League, and Greg Hooten Jr. qualifying for the final two spots in the championship field.
Buck Blair trapped the field from the outside in the first heat and went uncontested while Hooten rode the inside line to second place. Fisher led the second heat from start to finish, but Mike Faria fell in turn two on the first lap to give himself a bitter start to his evening. Venegas trapped in race three and scored an easy win over Eddie Castro.
Race four provided an early showdown between Hamill and Hancock. The winner would have the inside track on the all-important bonus point and first gate choice in the A Final. Both of which would likely prove to be vital. Hamill was first off the line, but Hancock chased him down in turn one. The two rubbed with Hamill being unfazed while Hancock exited turn two trailing behind. Hamill sped away while Hancock had to make up ground. A vast difference in speed caused Hancock to nearly ran up the back of Shaun Harmatiuk entering turn three and he had to slow down dramatically and he lost precious momentum. He gave chase on the outside in turn one but was unable to find sufficient traction so he switched his attack to the inside line in turn three. Hancock had his prey lined up for the pass when he completely shredded his chain amid a shower of sparks. Hamill scored an important victory while Hancock would have to scramble the rest of the evening just to get into the A Final.
Bast began round two with his first win of the evening while Hooten snuck past Perkins at the line for second. Hancock buried the misery of round one with a runaway win in race six, but Faria went down in turn two for the second straight race and had zero points after two rides. Fisher was well on his way to his second straight win, but had a kill switch malfunction near the end of lap three which handed the victory to Kenny Ingalls.
Venegas beat Hamill to the first corner and he led the former World Champion after one lap. Venegas drifted off the inside line in turn two and Hamill executed a perfect cutback move to blast by on the inside. Hamill led the rest of the way for the win while Venegas had to settle for second.
Hamill started the third round with a sound victory with Faria getting second for his first two points of the night. Venegas rebounded to get his second win ahead of Tommy Hedden. Hancock scored his second straight win ahead of his mentor, Bobby Schwartz.
Bast was leading race 12 before Fisher caused a major pileup in turn three. Fisher was excluded from the race, but his damaged machine and sore body forced him to withdraw from the meeting. Bast led the restart from start to finish for his second straight win while Blair finished second.
At intermission Hamill had a perfect nine points; Venegas had eight points; Bast, Hancock, and Blair each had six points; and Hooten had five points.
Venegas started round four by getting the jump with Hooten surprisingly running second ahead of Hancock, who was in third. Venegas streaked away with the win while Hancock struggled to chase down Hooten for second. Hooten rode flawlessly while Hancock couldn't find sufficient traction and also seemed to struggle with his machine. Hooten held on to score his most gratifying second place while Hancock had to settle for third.
Hedden held off all of Bast's challenges to win race 14. Hamill scored an easy win in race 15 for his fourth straight win. Faria was victorious over Blair in the final race of the fourth round.
After four rounds Hamill remained perfect with 12 points; Venegas had 11 points; Bast had nine points; Blair had eight points; and Hooten, Hancock, and Hedden each had seven points.
Schwartz began the final round with a popular victory ahead of J.T. Mabry.
Event 18 began with Castro and Hedden riding side-by-side ahead of Hamill. Castro was on the inside of Hedden as they entered turn three and began to drift wide as they exited turn four. Hamill saw the opening on the inside and pounced immediately. Hamill charged under both competitors but bumped Castro entering turn one. Castro went down and took Hedden down with him. The referee never turned on the red light, but the red flag was displayed and the race was stopped. The referee ordered a full restart since due to the race inadvertently being stopped. Hedden led the restart into the first corner before Hamill passed him on the back straight and cruised to the win.
Venegas romped to his fourth win of the evening ahead of Bast and Faria in race 19.
Hancock and Blair came to the tapes in race 20 with the final spot in the A Final up for grabs. Hancock was cool under the pressure and calmly led the entire distance for the win.
A runoff was required to determine the final two spots in the B Final. Faria was an easy winner with Hooten holding off Schwartz for an impressive second.
Newly crowned National Under 21 Champion Ricky Wells was victorious in the D Final. Schwartz blitzed the field to win the C Final. Blair's belt-driven clutch helped him get the best start in the B Final and the Colorado native led the entire distance for the win.
Hamill's victory ended three straight frustrating runner up finishes. It also meant that Hancock remains tied with the legendary Mike Bast with seven championships and also means that Bast's five straight titles remains unequaled.
The Fast Fridays season still has three events left on its calendar. Friday, September 7 is the Gold Country Fair Cup and Track Championship, followed by the Fall Classic on October 5, before the season concludes on October 26 with the USA vs. The World.
Elimination Race #1: (restarted) Greg Hooten, Kelly Kerrigan, Devin DeFreece, Josh West (fell, excluded)
Elimination Race #2: Ryan Fisher, Danny Turner, J.T. Martynse, Billy Hiles
Elimination Race #3: Martynse, Turner, Defreece, Kerrigan (fell, remounted)
Elimination Race #4: Fisher, Hooten, Martynse, Turner
Scorecard 1 2 3 4 5 T
1 - Greg Hancock R 3 3 1 3 10
2 - Billy Hamill 3 3 3 3 3 15
3 - Mike Faria 0 F 2 3 2 7
4 - Charlie Venegas 3 2 3 3 3 14
5 - Tommy Hedden 0 2 2 3 2 9
6 - Eddie Castro 2 0 0 1 R 3
8 - Nate Perkins 2 1 1 2 1 7
9 - Bart Bast 1 3 3 2 1 10
11 - Bobby Schwartz 1 0 2 1 3 7
12 - Shaun Harmatiuk 2 2 0 F 1 5
14 - Buck Blair 3 1 2 2 2 10
22 - J.T. Mabry 1 1 1 0 2 5
23 - Kenny Ingalls 0 3 0 0 0 3
24 - Ryan Fisher 3 R Fx N N 3
26 - Ricky Wells 1 1 1 1 0 4
27 - Greg Hooten Jr. 2 2 1 2 0 7
25 - J.T. Martynse (R) 0 1 - - - 1
21 - Danny Turner Did Not Ride
Race Results 1: Blair, Hooten, Wells, Hedden
2: Fisher, Perkins, Schwartz, Faria (fell, remounted)
3: Venegas, Castro, Mabry, Ingalls
4: Hamill, Harmatiuk, Bast, Hancock (retired)
5: Bast, Hooten, Perkins, Castro
6: Hancock, Hedden, Mabry, Faria (fell)
7: Ingalls, Harmatiuk, Wells, Fisher (retired)
8: Hamill, Venegas, Blair, Schwartz
9: Hamill, Faria, Hooten, Ingalls
10: Venegas, Hedden, Perkins, Harmatiuk
11: Hancock, Schwartz, Wells, Castro
12: (restarted) Bast, Blair, Mabry, Fisher (fell, excluded)
13: Venegas, Hooten, Hancock, Martynse
14: Hedden, Bast, Schwartz, Ingalls
15: Hamill, Perkins, Wells, Mabry
16: Faria, Blair, Castro, Harmatiuk (fell)
17: Schwartz, Mabry, Harmatiuk, Hooten (fell, remounted)
18: (restarted) Hamill, Hedden, Martynse, Castro (retired)
19: Venegas, Faria, Bast, Wells
20: Hancock, Blair, Perkins, Ingalls
Runoff: Faria, Hooten, Schwartz, Perkins
26 - Ricky Wells
6 - Eddie Castro
27 - Kenny Ingalls
24 - Ryan Fisher (non starter)
11 - Bobby Schwartz
8 - Nate Perkins
15 - Shaun Harmatiuk
22 - J.T. Mabry (fell)
14 - Buck Blair
3 - Mike Faria
5 - Tommy Hedden
27 - Greg Hooten Jr.
2 - Billy Hamill
1 - Greg Hancock
4 - Charlie Venegas
9 - Bart Bast
Final National Series Standings 1 2 3 T
2 - Billy Hamill 18 21 21 60
1 - Greg Hancock 21 16 18 55
9 - Bart Bast 8 18 14 40
4 - Charlie Venegas 14 9 16 39
3 - Mike Faria 16 11 11 38
5 - Tommy Hedden 11 14 10 35
14 - Buck Blair 12 7 12 31
7 - Bryan Yarrow 10 12 - 22
11 - Bobby Schwartz 4 8 8 20
8 - Nate Perkins 6 3 7 16
12 - Shaun Harmatiuk 0 10 6 16
26 - Ricky Wells 7 5 4 16
6 - Eddie Castro 5 4 3 12
27 - Greg Hooten Jr. - - 9 9
13 - Josh Larsen 9 - - 9
23 - Kenny Ingalls 0 6 2 8
22 - J.T. Mabry - 2 5 7
10 - Shawn McConnell 3 - - 3
24 - Tim Gomez 2 - - 2
24 - Ryan Fisher 1 - - 1
16 - Josh West 0 1 0 1
15 - Gary Hicks 1 - - 1