June 27th, Ventura Raceway, California, by Steve Evans
Speedway returned for its annual showcase event by the sea at Ventura Raceway as a big crowd braved unexpected chilly temperatures and drizzle for Round 2 of the AMA National Speedway Championship. The 'Commotion By The Ocean' entered its third season on the National Championship calendar, and only the third standalone speedway event there since 2000. Once more, the event did not disappoint.
A large crowd was on hand, a combination of speedway hard core and local race fans on a true European sized race track. The extravaganza featured the best in the nation speedway wise, as well as an earlier pre race program featuring other divisions.
The combination of youth and experience mixed perfectly in the thrilling show. Whilst the winner, current AMA Champion, Billy Janniro was a familiar sight, it was far from the one way traffic of 2014 with the teenage tidal wave of American talent in hot pursuit.
The event was somewhat a war of attrition. Round 1 winner Billy Hamill failed in a brave attempt to race round 2, when it was determined injuries from a nasty get off at Industry Hills a few days earlier would sideline him for the next 4 weeks. Joint championship leader Aaron Fox was similarly denied a chance to progress, a three rider lap one accident in heat 3 ended his night, similarly for Tyson Talkington who withdrew after the re run. Fox complained of leg pain and a headache, but is expected to return in two weeks.
The night began with 4 run off heats to determine the two wild card spots on the 16 rider program. Heat 1 was won by Charles Ermolenko from Tyler Warren, with highly rated Luke Becker a faller. Rocco Scopellite showed his big track liking with a storming win in heat 2 ahead of Jason Ramirez. Becker made no mistake with victory in the Last Chance race. Five very able and deserved riders lined up for the Run Off Final but only the first two would make it 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 fourth and Ermolenko retired in 5th.
This set the scene for the main show. After a break to grade the track and an emotional parade where fellow riders paid tribute to Grand Marshall Eddie Castro, it was down to business. Heat 1 drew three pre favorites and one teenage phenom in a line up worthy of any Main event. It was 18 year old World Cup star Max Ruml who drew first blood with an emphatic defeat of Janniro, his first modern time on the track loss at Ventura. Broc Nicol was third with Dillon Ruml fourth. Luke Becker made a stunning outside pass of fellow showman Tommy Hedden to take heat 2. Heat three saw a three rider collision in turn 3 of lap 1 that resulted in an exclusion for Bryce Starks and withdrawals for Aaron Fox and Tyson Talkington with leg and heal injuries respectively. Buck Blair defeated reserve Jason Ramirez in the re run. Heat 4 saw Scopellite once more with a fantastic start and victory over veterans Bart Bast, Shawn McConnell and Charlie Venegas.
Heat five was a Nor Cal 5-1 with Bast leading home Hedden over Dillon Ruml. All of the round 1 winners met in heat 6, Max Ruml leading home Blair and Becker. Janniro made up for heat 1 with a win over Russell Green from gate 4 in heat 7. Nicol led home McConnell in heat 8.
Heat 9, Becker's 6th of a busy night, saw him with a second stunning win in the main show, leading home fellow 16 year old Dillon Ruml. Max Ruml made it a perfect 9 points in heat 10 defeating Hedden and Venegas. Janniro led home Ramirez in heat 11. Broc Nicol was heat 12 winner with Mr. Consistent Bart Bast in second.
Dillon Ruml scorched to his maiden big track win in heat 13, with Scopellite in second place. Max Ruml won heat 14 from Bast. Janniro won heat 15 from Blair, with Nicol getting his third win in heat 16 from Ramirez and Becker.
Dillon Ruml made a stunning on the line pass of Buck Blair to win heat 17. Max Ruml led home Ramirez to complete a 15 point maximum in the heats in 18. Billy Janniro led home Becker in 19. Nicol won heat 20 with Hedden securing a semi final spot with a brilliant pass on Bryce Starks.
The led us into the semi final stage. Semi 1 saw Max Ruml win again with comfort. Behind him Bast gated in second but Becker took the outside (Castro line) to make a stunning pass and an equally incredible transfer to the Big Final. Semi 2 saw Janniro lead home Nicol with Hedden and Blair behind.
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 dialled in and was not willing to give up the chance of a Ventura Hat Trick. He gated first and was chased hard by Max Ruml and Nicol, with Becker at the back. The positions did not change throughout the final. It was a night to remember for American Speedway and the expected wheelie show after the final send the crowd home happy. Becker had an incredible 10 rides on the night and his big track display was simply incredible!
An interesting stat and one of the changing face of American Speedway is the fact that 6 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, 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.
Nine sidecars came out to play, Joe Jones and Tom Summers won their heat semi and main. Runners up in the closely contested final were National Champions Bryan Motis and Josh Bennett, who also won their heat and semi. In the Support Class, heats went to Hayley Perrault, impressive after her UK tour and River McDougall. McDougall gave an impressive repeat in the final. 250cc Juniors had Jake Isaac stunning the usually unbeatable Sebastian Palmese in the heat, though roles were reversed in the final. The vintage class has 11 entries. Heats went to Dan Waller and Johnny Walker, though Ken Thebaid once more took the Main. The Trophy Dash, for riders who did not qualify from the Wild Card heats went to Dryden Gayle. Best wishes go to veteran Bobby Hill who is hospitalized after a nasty high side get off in his heat.
AMA National Championship Round 2 finishing positions and points
AMA National Championship Series Points After round 2 (Unofficial).
Vintage B Main
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