Story and photos by Michael Marino
HARPSTER, Ohio — Chase Saathoff went winless on Tuesday, the first day of the 2019 AMA Flat Track Grand Championship. But when the short track racing wrapped up Thursday evening, he had five wins to his credit.
The Hillsboro, Ill., resident was victorious in the 250cc Modified and 250cc DTX class main events on the Triangle Motorcycle Club TT circuit Wednesday, and the club's short track on Thursday. He also came out on top in Thursday's 201cc-250cc main. Saathoff is now the points leader in three classes.
Other riders to capture main event victories in the same class on Wednesday and Thursday included Liam Benoist (50cc DTX PW Shaft (4-8)), Travis Horn (85cc DTX (7-11)) and Trevor Brunner (450cc-Open Singles, 450cc-Open Modified) and Shafer (50cc DTX PW (4-8)). Brunner’s consistency on track is evident in the standings. He is in first place in four classes (450cc-Open Singles, 450cc-Open Modified, 251cc-500cc DTX and 450cc Modified) with one day of competition to go.
Thursday's short track racing also featured several strong outings by West Coast riders. David Kohlstaedt, who hails from Puyallop, Wash., captured two wins in 450cc classes and Talus Sather of Vancouver, Wash., was the first rider in this year’s championship other than Chase Anderson to claim a main event win in the 85cc Modified (12-15) Class. In the 65cc Modified (7-11) Class, it was Salinas, Calif., rider Kage Tadman taking his first win in the 2019 championship.
It was a challenging day for riders Kody Kopp and Colton Shafer. Both were coming off stellar performances on Wednesday in the TT competition, but struggled to find their groove on the short track.
Kopp had a rough start to the day, crashing out from the lead in the 450cc Modified Class heat race. The 2018 AMA Fast Brain Award winner from Mica, Wash., had been undefeated in that class' main events during the first two days of the championship. Kopp ended up qualifying for three main events in other classes but missed out on scoring a win after taking wins on 250cc and 450cc motorcycles on Wednesday.
Kopp said he was disappointed in how the day went but was looking forward to getting back to half-mile racing on Friday. Kopp’s father and 2000 AMA Grand National Champion Joe Kopp said he was proud of how his son handled the difficult day and noted how difficult maintaining composure can be when a rider is racing in four classes per day.
Shafer, from Fresno, Calif., did have one win on the day but also lost a close battle. He got a good start in the 50cc DTX Dr. (7-8) Class main event, but a charging Braxton Ragan caught up to Shafer near the midpoint of the race. An intense battle for the lead ensued, with Ragan coming out on top for his second win of the 2019 event.
While both riders didn’t have the best days on track, they maintained strong positions in the points standings. Shafer remains the points leader in the 50cc DTX PW (4-8) and the 50cc DTX Sr. (7-8) classes, and Kopp is in second place in the 201cc-250cc and 450cc Modified standings.
The 2019 AMA Flat Track Grand Championship concludes Friday with half-mile racing at the Triangle Motorcycle Club.
2019 AMA Flat Track Grand Championship — Thursday Main Event Winners
- 50cc DTX Sr. (7-8): Braxton Ragan, Buckner, Ill.
- 85cc DTX (7-11): Travis Horn, La Verne, Calif.
- 50cc DTX PW Shaft (4-8): Liam Benoist, Mascoutah, Ill.
- 250cc Modified: Chase Saathoff, Hillsboro, Ill.
- 50cc DTX PW (4-8): Colton Shafer, Fresno, Calif.
- 450cc Modified: David Kohlstaedt, Puyallop, Wash.
- 85cc Modified (7-11): Bradon Pfanders, Bethlehem, Pa.
- Super Senior 50+: Dallas Mayer, Carbondale, Ill.
- 450cc-Open Singles: Trevor Brunner, Aurora, Ind.
- 65cc Modified (7-11): Kage Tadman, Salinas, Calif.
- 201cc-250cc: Chase Saathoff, Hillsboro, Ill.
- Senior 40+: Dallas Mayer, Carbondale, Ill.
- Open Vintage: Daniel Poole, Gaffney, S.C.
- 85cc Modified (12-15): Talus Sather, Vancouver, Wash.
- 251cc-500cc DTX: David Kohlstaedt, Puyallop, Wash.
- 65cc DTX (7-11): Kage Tadman, Salinas, Calif.
- Veteran 30+: Ben Evans, Galion, Ohio
- Pro/Expert Singles: Max Whale, Coondoo, Queensland, Australia
- 250cc DTX: Chase Saathoff, Hillsboro, Ill.
- 450cc-Open Modified: Trevor Brunner, Aurora, Ind.
- 85cc DTX (12-15): Ethan Ramsey, Weston, Wis.