NICOL WINS SPEEDWAY NATIONAL ROUND 3 @ INDUSTRY – By Tim Kennedy
Industry, CA., Aug. 12 – Round three of the four round 2017 AMA Speedway National Championship Series at four speedways in California took place Saturday night. Industry Speedway, an eighth-mile dirt track in the Grand Arena of the Industry Hills Expo Center, hosted the event in front of about 950 spectators in the modern, impressive facility now in its 15th season of speedway bike racing.
Sixteen 500cc first division riders raced five rounds of heat races with four riders in each race. They scored points on a 3-2-1-0 basis. Each rider started at least once from all four grid positions and against every other rider. The top eight point scorers after the 20th heat race advanced to the pair of semi-final races. The first two finishers in each semi transferred to the main event (event 23). Track maintenance with a tractor took place after each round.
Industry Speedway 2016 track champion Max Ruml, 20, tallied the only perfect score of 15 points following 20 heats. He led every lap and won all five of his heat races. Lomita resident Broc Nicol, 19, the winner of round two of the 2017 National Championship Series on July 29 at Santa Maria Speedway, scored 14-points. Seven-time and reigning Speedway National Champion Billy Janniro, 37, and Gino Manzares tied at 12-points for third place.
Other transfers to semis (with point sin pare3nthesis) were: Dillon Ruml, Austin Novratil and Aaron Fox (10-points) and Tommy Hedden (7). Russell Green also scored seven points, but Auburn's Hedden received the final transfer berth via the tie-breaking procedure.
High-pointer M. Ruml chose the inside starting position and won the first semi-main over lane two starter Manzares. Fox, from the outside, placed third. Novratil, from lane three, finished fourth. As high-point-man in the second semi, Nicol also selected the inside position. He led every lap and defeated lane two starter Janniro. Third lane starter D. Ruml ran third all four laps. Outside starter Hedden was in P. 4 on lap 2 when he fell in the third turn. He re-mounted and continued half a lap back.
Prior to the feature at 9:36 pm, the IHEC tractor again dragged the track and gave main event riders the best track surface possible. Based upon total points, including semi-main points, M. Ruml had first lane choice. He picked the outside next to the wall. Nicol, the next highest in points, selected the inside lane. Janniro took lane two, leaving Manzares lane three.
FEATURE: When the light turned green and the starting gate rose, Nicol shot into the lead by the first corner. Ruml was second on the outside. Trying to pass Nicol for the lead on lap 2 Ruml lost positions to Janniro and Manzares. The final three laps ran in that order. At the checkered flag Manzares looked back to check Ruml's position. His back tire dug in, depositing Manzares on the ground in a prone position. His bike flipped wildly several times to the first turn. .The stunned rider soon rose and participated in the pit podium trophy presentation to the top three finishers.
Nicol received three points and runner-up Janniro two points. Manzares scored one point and Ruml zero. Nicol ran the traditional slow victory lap with the checkered flag and handed it to starter Tom Fox. He then stopped in the fourth turn where friends and fellow riders tossed him into the air several times to celebrate his impressive second 2017 National Championship round victory.
Nicol, on his No. 4 GM, earned the most points (20) Saturday. M. Ruml scored 18, Janniro 16, and Manzares 15. Semi-main riders D. Ruml and Fox were next with 11 points each. Novratil scored 10. National series points after three rounds showed Janniro still leading with 52 points. Next highest are: M. Ruml (48), Nicol (44), Manzares (39), D. Ruml and Luke Becker tied at 32 points, Novratil (30), Eddie Castro (21), plus Fox and Gage Geist tied at 20. P. 11-13 are: Russell Green (18), Daniel Faria (15) and Hedden (11).
The fourth and final round will be at Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway in Auburn on Saturday, September 16. That is the home track of point leader Janniro. However, “Young Guns” M. Ruml (-4 points) and Nicol (-8) are within striking distance of winning their first AMA Speedway National title. Winning the National Championship is a goal of riders so they can secure a spot on Team USA for racing next year in Great Britain.
The National Championship field is comprised of 14 permanent racers and two “wild-card” riders. The permanent racers are the top eight riders from 2016 National Championship standings..The six “earned” positions came from a qualifier race earlier this year at Perris Raceway. The final two positions are “wild-cards” that can be either “promoters choice” or races for two positions on a regular night of racing prior to the third round.
HEATS: Three heat races Saturday brought fans to their feet cheering. In event 13, M. Ruml went to the outside in the final two corners. Max made his decisive outside move exiting turn four to the finish line and squeezed past race-long leader Manzares “by half a wheel” in his words. It was a classic photo finish that had spectators applauding.
Bobby “Boogaloo” Schwartz, at age 60, started from the inside lane and easily won his round four ride (event 16). Appreciative spectators again cheered his victory. The other outstanding heat race was event 20 in which Nicol led the final two laps after passing first two laps leader Manzares on the outside.
Eight different riders won the 20 heat races as follows:
> 5 wins – M. Ruml,
> 4 wins – Nicol,
> 3 wins – Janniro,
> 2 wins – Manzares, Novratil, and D. Ruml,
> 1 win – Fox and Schwartz.
Non-semi-main competitors (P. 9-16 in points after the 20 heats) are shown in order of their points (in parenthesis). They are: Russell Green (7), Schwartz, who had P. 1, 2 and 3 in his five rides (6), Gage Geist (5), Daniel Faria (5), Eddie Castro (2), Neil Facchini (3), Robbie Sauer (1) and Brad Sauer (0).
Two veteran 500cc riders made their first racing starts this season at Industry. Robbie Sauer, from Bakersfield, has been absent from Industry since July 2016. He had the debilitating “valley fever” that is common in the San Joaquin Valley and did not race from 2012-16. The now 51-year old returned to racing his No. 17 in 2016 at Ventura Raceway and other tracks.
Eddie Castro (No. 14) last raced at Industry in August 2014. He had cancer and was recovering from chemotherapy until 2016. The 58-year old Ojai resident also returned to racing in Ventura, Santa Maria and Costa Mesa. He won a D-1 main event in Ventura on July 22, 2017.
Industry Speedway Racing Director Kelly Inman was joined by referee Steve Lucero and starter Tom Fox ins their usual on-track roles. They spoke at the riders meeting in the pits prior to the traditional riders parade at 7:15 pm. Track PA announcer Bruce Flanders introduced riders individually as they walked from the pits to the infield.
Round one winner at Ventura (June 17) was Nor Cal's Luke Becker, 18. It was his first triumph in the series. He fell in the fourth turn during the feature in round two at Santa Maria Speedway on July 29 and suffered a broken ankle. He was second in 2017 National Championship points (only 4-points behind Janniro) prior to round three at Industry, but he was not present at Industry while recuperating. He slipped to a fifth place tie in points.
No rider has made all three rounds during the 2017 National Championship Series. Nicol, Becker, M. Rum, Manzares, and Janniro (the 2008, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16 Speedway National Champion) have made two of the three finals.
Feature results of first three rounds:
> Ventura (June 17) – Becker, Castro, Manzares, Ryan Fisher.
> Santa Maria (July 29) – Nicol, Janniro, M. Ruml, Becker.
> Industry – (August 12) - Nicol, Janniro, Manzares, M. Ruml.
The always free Industry Speedway printed program increased to 12-pages this week. It contained race lineups and recent color head-shot photos of 17 competing D-1 riders, including reserve rider Hayley Perrault. She is a 20-year old college student. Tyson Talkington was the other designated reserve rider present and ready to race in a heat race if needed. None of the 16 entered competitors scratched or had an engine failure.
Temperature readings at Industry Speedway Saturday were 82 degrees at 6:30 pm and still 70 following the main event. ... The all-500cc D-1 racing night had 23 races and was shown live on the Internet.
The 50/50 drawing this week added $576 to the purse for feature riders and an equal amount for the spectator with the winning ticket. The winner was a speedway fan who drove from Houston, TX to see the event in person.