Zanotti Racing’s Jake Johnson Wins 2010 AMA Pro Grand National Championship

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Jake Johnson wins his first AMA Grand National Championship and Zanotti Racing makes GNC history.

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About the championship, Dave Zanotti said, “My father would have told me I’m nuts for pursuing my passion. However, I have a feeling that today he would have been very proud. And that's what drives Zanotti Racing to excel.”

"Jersey" Jake Johnson came into the final round of the national series with a ten point lead over 2000 GNC champion Joe Kopp. Not content to ride conservatively for the series win, Jake won his heat race and then battled with Jared Mees and the recently-rehabilitated Sammy Halbert for the 25 lap main. Johnson squeaked out a .004 second win from Mees at the checkered flag.

It was also an AMC GNC first - Zanotti Racing’s founder Mario Zanotti and Steve Eklund won the championship in 1979. Now 31 years later, Mario’s son, Dave captured the crown, making history as the first father and son to reach this pinnacle.

Johnson started the year in fine style at the season opener in Daytona, scoring a solid third the first night and won the next night. The next races in Yavapai Downs, Arizona and the Springfield TT, Jake took home two sixth place finishes.

In what was the most dominant performance in the 2010 series, Jake was a man on a mission at the Springfield Mile, earning the fast qualifying time, winning his heat, the Dash For Cash and running away from the competition in the main.

That was followed by a disappointing 13th place in Gas City, where he struggled all weekend. Then the series was on to Lima where the team took a fifth place finish on the pea gravel cushion. At I-96 Speedway, Jake chased Joe Kopp for a solid second. Then on to the only west coast race inCalistoga, California, Johnson was once again on the podium with a solid third place.

In Hagerstown the team had a disappointing 7th place finish while points leader Kopp won the event. Now in the thick of the season the following week he finished fourth at the famous Peoria TT.

Next the series moved on to the big tracks and Jake and the team were dialed in. First, they achieved a respectable 4th place at the Indy Mile and then it was off to the second double header of the season at Springfield. Jake scored a second place in the TT and a sixth the next day on the mile, after earlier crashing that day in the dash for cash. At this point, he was 10 points aback of Kopp.

In Canterbury Park, Minnesota, Jake ran strong and finished second while Kopp threw a chain on his Ducati and finished 16th, trailing Johnson by 10 points as they rolled into Yavapai Downs. Jake put his head down and secured the championship.

When asked about the historic moment, Dave Zanotti explained, “If Dad was alive, he would have told me I’m nuts in pursuing my dream of a GNC championship. I have a feeling that today he would have been very proud. And that drives me to continue to push forward.”

Zanotti Racing is a team of driven perfectionists. Ted McDermitt is Crew Chief, maintaining and developing the team’s Harley stable. Former GNC racer Mike Hacker handles the track tuning duties. Steven Scott is the design expert, developing new technologies to improve performance and more importantly, increase reliability. Dave’s wife Colleen deals with the West Coast logistics as well as run the company business while the team is out on the road. Lesha Colthorp is responsible for the travel details for the team.

Jake Johnson began his professional dirt track racing career as a rookie in 2001. In 2006 and 2008 Johnson rode for American Suzuki and won the AMA Grand National Singles Championship title.

Zanotti Racing is a San Jose California-based-based Dirt Track Motorcycle Team, making the fastest dirt track motorcycles possible.

Photo courtesy of The Fast & Dirty


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