47th United States National Speedway Championship - Costa Mesa, CA, USA by Ryan Evans
Aaron Fox was a flawless five for five in his heat races then won the Final to win his first United States National Speedway Championship on a great evening of racing at the world famous Costa Mesa Speedway.
Fox’s perfect 15 points after five rounds of heats earned him the right of first choice of starting position for the National Championship Final. He chose gate one. Former National Champion Billy “The Bullet” Hamill, having only been defeated by Fox in the heats, mulled over gate four before settling on gate two. Under 21 National Champion “Mad” Max Ruml picked gate three which left Charlie “The Edge” Venegas, who made the Final by winning the Last Chance, with gate four.
The intensity was in the air as the four racers staged at the tapes. Venegas gambled at the start and it didn’t pay off as he got into the tapes and was penalized.
Venegas’s infraction only raised the intensity for the second attempt. Fox was first away from the starting line and led Hamill and Ruml into turn one. Hamill closed a little ground on the back straight but Fox maintained control of the lead through lap one. Hamill hovered behind the leader and hoped for a mistake but one would never come. Fox, just as he had all night, never turned a wheel long and was first to the checkered flag for the biggest win of his career. Hamill was second and Max Ruml finished third, the same positions they finished last year, while Venegas was credited with fourth after falling.
The win capped an excellent 2015 season for Fox. He was the most consistent racer at Costa Mesa with several main event victories, including capturing the 2015 Fair Derby. He also won several main events at Industry Racing as well. A spectacular crash while battling for the lead in the 2013 National Championship Final contributed to a runner-up finish and after spending the 2014 season in the British Premier League he returned to Southern California with one goal in mind. His mission was accomplished by taking the final step to the top of the Championship podium.
The evening kicked off with Max Ruml going around the outside of three-time National Champion “Flyin” Mike Faria to win the first heat. Fox opened his evening by defeating Hamill in the second heat. Dillon Ruml was victorious in the third heat with Luke Becker getting second. Defending National Champion Bryan Yarrow began his title defense with a win over Shawn “Mad Dog” McConnell to end round one.
Round two started with Fox beating Luke Becker for his second victory. Max Ruml held off his brother Dillon Ruml for his second win. Venegas defeated former Under 21 National Champion Austin Novratil for his first victory. Hamill finished the second round by beating Yarrow.
Faria opened the third round with a victory over “Battling” Buck Blair. Event 10 was a showdown of the remaining unbeaten riders, Fox and Max Ruml. Fox was electric from the tapes and romped to victory and was the one and only undefeated racer. Hamill scored his second win in event 11. Venegas held off Northern California’s Tommy Hedden to complete round three with his second consecutive win.
Venegas began the fourth round by scoring his third straight victory and positioning himself well for the Final. Hamill won his third consecutive race while Hedden used the outside to pass Max Ruml for second. Fox defeated Yarrow in event 15 to keep his score unblemished and he locked up a place in the Final. Becker put himself into contention by winning the last race of round four.
Going into the last round of heats Fox had a perfect 12 points, Hamill had 11, Venegas had 10 points, Max Ruml had 9, and Yarrow and Becker had 8 points apiece. Fox was already in the Final while each of the other five competitors had a chance to earn a direct position in the Final.
Hamill secured his place in the Final by winning event 17. Event 18 brought Becker, Max Ruml, Venegas, and Yarrow on to the track and every one of them had a shot to make the Final. Max Ruml booked his place in the Final with a victory while the other three would all return for the Last Chance. Tommy Hedden and Austin Novratil came out for event 19 with a spot in the Last Chance at their fingertips. Hedden showed his veteran cool by winning and confirming the remaining spot in the Last Chance. The only drama in the Final heat was whether or not Fox would remain undefeated in the heats. A win or second would give him first gate choice in the Final. He made another great start and was leading when Gage Geist went down on the second lap and brought out the red flag. Fox didn’t let a restart rattle him as he led all the way to go five for five in the heats.
The Last Chance race pitted Yarrow, who was hoping for an opportunity to successfully defend his title, two-time National Champion Venegas, former Finalist Hedden, and 16 year old Becker looking to upset the veterans. Venegas made the best start from gate two. Yarrow chased after the leader all four laps but Venegas was determined to challenge for his third title and led to the finish line. Yarrow settled for second, Hedden was third, and Becker finished fourth.
The evening brought the curtain down on the 47th season of speedway at the world famous venue. The track was excellently prepared by promoter Brad Oxley and his entire track staff. The large crowd provided a great atmosphere for the racers who showed their appreciation with an evening of fast and safe racing all night long. Although an exact date has not been announced the 48th season is expected to commence in May 2016.
National Heat Scoring 12345T
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