2011 AMA National Champ
- 2011 AMA Racing National Speedway Championship Report from Fast Fridays. Thanks Michael Kirby
Fast Friday’s Motorcycle SpeedwayGold Country FairgroundsJanniro wins Speedway National ChampionshipBy Michael Kirby (Story & Photos)AUBURN, CALIFORNIA, September 30, 2011From the first race of the 2011 Fast Friday’s motorcycle speedway season back in May Billy Janniro has been riding at the top of his career and every week was the man to beat at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. Friday night Janniro did not disappoint, with a giant target on his back all season and the championship his to lose, at evenings end it was Janniro standing in the top spot on the winner’s podium holding the AMA Racing Speedway National Championship number one plate, and hoisting the championship trophy high. With Friday night’s championship victory Janniro successfully defended his 2010 AMA Racing Speedway National Championship, bringing his national speedway championship total to three with a championship win also in 2008.This year’s national speedway championship format was scaled down from three championship meetings to a one night only championship with a winner take all evening. The format gave all the racers except Janniro a better chance to win the championship. One slip up, one bad race, one mechanical problem, or a bad evening for Janniro, could have put him out of the championship circle. The pressure was truly on for the reigning champion.The championship format included 20 four rider heat races in five rounds, then the top eight scoring riders transferring into two semi-finals rounds with the top two finishers in each semi transferring into the national final. Janniro was perfect for the evening winning all his heat races and went into the semi-final round with 15 points for five first place finishes in his heat rounds. Janniro raced everyone out of every gate position and won all his rounds. In his semi-final, Janniro with high points was in gate one, Charlie Venegas with 11 points was out of gate two, Greg Hooten with 10 points was in gate three, and veteran Bobby Schwartz with 9 points lined up on the outside. Janniro was unstoppable and riding on the inside and deep on the outside line of the track. Venegas gave good chase but could not catch the champ, and had to settle for second place. Hooten was third and Schwartz was fourth. Janniro and Venegas transferred into the championship round, Janniro now with 18 points and Venegas with 13 points. The second semi pitted Bryan Yarrow, Tommy Hedden, Bart Bast and Southern California’s Charles Ermolenko racing for the remaining two championship round spots. Yarrow, having an outstanding night finishing the heats with 13 points choose the inside gate and powered to a impressive first place finish, followed by Ermolenko in second, Bast in third and Hedden in fourth. Yarrow now with 16 points and Ermolenko with nine points each filled the final two spots in the championship round.In the championship round the available points jumped to six for a win, four for second place, two for third place and zero for fourth. Janniro entering with 18 points choose the inside gate, Yarrow with 16 points choose gate two, Venegas with 13 points was in the third gate, and Ermolenko mathematically out of the championship with 9 points was outside in four. Venegas had a chance if he won and picked up the six points and Janniro finished last, possible but not likely. Yarrow was the only rider who really had a chance to give Janniro a scare. Entering the round with 16 points and picking six first place points in the final round, and any finish second place or below for Janniro would have given Yarrow the national title. Janniro needed this win, but when the tapes went up Janniro and Ermolenko tangled on turn one with both riders going down and a restart ensued. This time Janniro got a great gate and took the inside line weaving inside and outside with Yarrow giving chase. But the smooth riding Janniro controlled the race from the starting gate to the checkered flag, capturing his third national championship finishing with 24 points and becoming the 2011 AMA Racing Speedway National Champion. Yarrow finished second turning in a stellar night with 20 championship points. Venegas was third finishing his evening with 15 points and Ermolenko was fourth.
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