Parker picks up the pace on the half miles with podium finishes
August 15, 2011
Winona, ON - August 15, 2011 - Although John Parker’s issues on the ¼ mile oval of Niagara Raceway in Welland, ON at Round 5 of the CMA Dirt Track Nationals July 9th continued, delivering a seventh place finish in both the Pro 450 and Pro Open finals, he rebounded at Rounds 6 and 7 the following weekend.
Parker, who had been looking forward to racing the ½ mile tracks of Southwestern Ontario, did not disappoint. He picked up valuable points in the title hunt of both classes, which currently has him holding down third in the Pro 450 and fourth in the Pro Open.
After a busy week prepping his Kawasakis for the ½ mile, Parker was on the start line at Leamington on Saturday, July 16th and Wheatley on Sunday, July 17th. They happened to be two of the hottest days of the year. Both days the thermometer climbed into the mid-30s (C); when factoring in the humidity it felt more like mid-40s.
Being an off-weekend for the AMA Grand National riders, a number of Americans including Chad Cose, Jeremy Higgins, and Joe Hartrich showed up to mix it up with their Canadian counterparts.
Also on hand were the usual CMA title hunt suspects and Canadians who also campaign the AMA series like Don Taylor, Doug Lawrence and Mike LaBelle.
On Saturday it was a Parker of old that dirt track fans saw in action. He snared the holeshot in every race he was in and blasted his way to second place finish in his Pro 450 and Open qualifying heats, giving him front row starting positions for the finals.
Despite a finicky acting suspension in the 450 final, Parker still brought home a fourth place finish, battling with the likes of frontrunners in the points chase Taylor, Lawrence and Chris Evans, as well as the contingency of American guest riders.
In the Open final, Parker led the freight train for a number of laps after grabbing the holeshot, but met his match in Chad Cose and Doug Lawrence. After losing the lead to Cose, Parker played a game of cat and mouse with California’s Cose, who was also passed by Lawrence, for the honour of a second place.
Parker then ran down Cose in the closing laps, passing him twice on the last lap, only to get nipped by Cose at the finish line. Parker settled for a well-earned third spot on the podium, which brought with it valuable points towards the championship.
As an added attraction the organization ran a four-lap Dash For Cash race open only to the top six qualifiers of the evening. Parker finished an impressive second place in this feature.
The following afternoon at Wheatley, Parker rose to the occasion to nail down a win in his 450 heat and second in the Open heat, again assuring front row starts for the finals.
Although podium finishes escaped him this time out, he still recorded noteworthy fourth place finishes in the Pro 450 and Pro Open classes, which saw the top five greet the checkered flag within bike lengths of each other.
“Leamington and Wheatley were a step in the right direction. I was quite happy with the results because they were strong finishes. The competition was hot and nasty, with nobody giving an inch. And the scorching temperatures Mother Nature threw at us certainly added an additional physical challenge,” Parker said.
On Sunday, July 24th, Parker was back in action south of the border in Medina, NY for the last round of the New York TT Flat Track Scrambles Championship. Because of his commitments to Kawasaki Canada, Parker had missed the previous round on July 17th, which pretty well negated his chances of claiming his third consecutive title.
Because of having to forfeit Round 4, Parker had to start on the back row for his heat race. Charging hard on his explosive Kawasaki KX 450, he came to within half a bike length of winning when the checkered flag signalled the end of the race.
In the main event, he took control of the lead off the start and basically checked out, finishing a straightaway ahead of second place, and lapping the field up to fourth place.
Despite missing one round, Parker still finished the series in runner-up position, losing the title by a meagre 10 points.
“For me Medina is a bit of a busman’s holiday. I’ve been racing there for many years and enjoy the atmosphere. The final event always has a retired rider’s race that attracts a lot of guys I went through the ranks with,” Parker said. “It gives us a chance to all get together once a year and socialize. Sure, I would have like to pull off a threepeat in the title hunt, but you can’t win them all. I take satisfaction in knowing that I could have won it if I hadn’t missed a round.”