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Hagerstown Speedway hosts AMA event

August 23, 1999|By MIKE SIRBAUGH / Staff Correspondent

Motorcycle racing fans came from far and wide Saturday night to see the action on the track at the Hagerstown Speedway. But the riders in the 19th Annual Hub-City Classic, featuring the American Motorcycle Association, took the phrase "on the track" a bit literal.

[cont. from sports page]

A rider went down in both of the first two heat races for the Grand National Series and, in the 25-lap feature, nine of the 18 riders starting the race hit the dirt.

After all the cautions, and three ambulance visits onto the track, the feature was finally completed at 11:35 p.m. with Nicky Hayden earning his first Grand National victory.

Hayden won his heat and began in the first starting position for the feature. Then he completed his victory by holding off a stubborn Joe Kopp, who actually took the lead briefly on three occasions.

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On laps 8, 12 and 15, Kopp passed Hayden on the back straightaway, going low out of turn two. But Hayden was stronger in turns three and four and re-gained the lead each time before completing the lap.

By lap 19, Hayden opened up a 10-bike lead over Kopp and won going away.

Hayden had plans of giving up dirt track racing to concentrate on asphalt racing but he wanted to win a Grand National on dirt before he switched. After the victory, he told the crowd that his roots were in dirt tracks and he would continue to race on dirt.

"It's been a long haul," Hayden said. "Before I left, I felt like I had to win a race. Hagerstown's been good to me. This makes it all worthwhile. I'm going to be back for sure."

"That's one of my best finishes," Kopp said as he commented on the track surface. "It was about the same everywhere you wanted to go on the track."

There's that phrase again.

Neither Hayden nor Kopp laid their bikes down during the events but plenty ahead of them in the points race did.

Chris Carr, Rich king, Will Davis, Bryan Bigelow, Jay Springsteen, Kevin Varnes and Dan Butler all had their turns hitting the track after a rider lost control on the slick surface.

Most had to go to the rear of the field on the restart. Butler was the unlucky one. After a four-bike spill on lap 3 of the feature, he was taken to Washington County Hospital with a compound fracture of his leg, according to race officials.

After Butler was tended to and the race was restarted, King was involved in another spill in turn two. Taking his place at the end of the field, King still managed a third place finish.

"I've got to thank these fans out here," said King. "They're wonderful. All the way down (walking down the front straightaway to the staging area for the restart), they kept hollering, 'Don't give up.' And that helped me go on."

Because of the may cautions and the midnight curfew, the Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Series could not be run as originally scheduled.

After 15 of 21 Grand National events, Carr holds a 62 point lead over King with Scott Parker in third, Davis in fourth and Bigelow in fifth.

Parker did not race Saturday night. He is recovering from injuries he suffered last Sunday but is expected to return for the next event.

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