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JANNIRO WINS INDUSTRY AMA SPEEDWAY NATIONAL ROUND 4

JANNIRO WINS INDUSTRY AMA SPEEDWAY NATIONAL ROUND 4
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Sensational, dramatic, awesome, shocking. Those are words that could describe the final lap pass by Billy Janniro, from Nor Cal, in the final two turns to win the AMA Speedway National Championship round four of five Saturday night at Industry Speedway. He has won all four of the 2018 championship features and has been the series point leader after rounds three and four.

The eight-time AMA Speedway National Champion, four-time US National Champion, and five-time California State Champion, from Vallejo originally, just refuses to lose major events. The Winters resident and father of two does not give up when other riders might settle for second place. That was true Saturday in the most amazing finish of the year with more than 800 spectators gazing in amazement at his daring expertise.

Austin Novratil, of Huntington Beach, had been the dominant rider all evening and won all five of his heat races, including a victory over Janniro in round five (event 17). Novratil, 23, scored a perfect 15 points in heat racing that comprised the first 20 races of the night in the Grand Arena of the Industry Hills Expo Center.

Sixteen 500cc speedway riders raced for points prior to the fifth and final round of the 2018 AMA National Championship on Saturday, September 29 at Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway in Auburn. Novratil, with a Bill Cody recently rebuilt GM engine and Jawa chassis, aced all of his rides to lead seven other riders into the two semi-finals. The first two finishers in each semi (events 21 and 22) advanced to the main event (event 23).

SEMIS: Novratil won the first semi after starting from the inside lane and leading all the way over outside lane starter Jimmy Fishback III. Lane two starter Luke Becker finished third. He was the second ranked rider in 2018 AMA National Championship points with 56 points to 58 for leader Janniro. Becker, 19, had flown to So Cal from Europe to race at Industry in AMA round four after racing Thursday night and was sleep deprived.

Max Ruml, the 2017 Industry Speedway 500cc first division track champion, finished fourth in the first semi riding a bike for recuperating rider Tyson Burmeister. He entered round four with no points. He missed the first three rounds at Rancho Cordova (April 28), Ventura (June 23), and Santa Maria (July 28). The older Ruml brother realized a goal by racing during the last four months in Europe for the Edinburgh Monarchs of the British Racing League.

The second semi-final had Janniro, who ranked second to Novratil in heat race points with 14, on pole. Lanes two through four had 2018 five-time Industry feature winner Dillon Ruml, Aaron Fox and Charlie Venegas. A gate penalty exclusion cost Venegas a chance to race into the feature. P. 3 Ruml fell near turn four in mid-race and quickly pushed his Jawa to the infield.

A three-rider race saw Janniro lead all four laps. Fox out-jumped Ruml and placed second with Ruml a close third. Ruml had entered round four fourth in 2018 AMA National Championship point standings. Like Becker, D. Ruml lost a chance to cut into Janniro's 2018 point lead prior to round five.

When the four main event riders came to the starting gate, high-point rider Novratil selected pole position. Janniro then took the outside lane next to the crash-wall. Fox took lane two, leaving Fishback lane three. After the green light and gate rising, Novratil shot into the first turn and commanded the inside with Fox to his right. High-riding Janniro was third leaving the second turn. Janniro had second place after the first lap, with Fox and Fishback making it a tight four rider pack.

Novratil, with his refreshed GM engine putting out power in abundance, opened an almost comfortable lead of four lengths over Janniro. Leaving turn two on the final lap, Novratil still had a three lengths lead over Janniro, who made up that distance by the third turn. Then the unbelievable happened. Janniro charged to the inside of Novratil and to the right of the plastic pipe separating the track and infield.

Janniro squeezed his Denny Scopellite-owned GM-powered No. 1 between the infield marking pipe and Novratil and pulled even with the leader entering turn three. Janniro had his left metal boot skimming the infield dirt in the final two corners as his front wheel edged into the lead. The two leaders exited turn four side-by-side and raced towards the waving checkered flag. Janniro crossed the finish line with a narrow lead.

Novratil somehow spun around after crossing the finish line and both he and his bike fell to the ground. He said he thought he and Janniro had brushed, but scorers said there was no contact. Shocked Novratil popped up quickly and pushed his bike to the infield. Fishback and Fox ran all laps third and fourth.

Janniro took his celebratory lap around the track with the checkered flag as stunned onlookers sat in amazement, mentally processing what they had just witnessed. With half a lap remaining, spectators thought Novratil, dominant all night, had his second feature win of 2018. It would've been his second ever D-1 main event triumph at Industry. Janniro, who can never be counted out, had other plans and pulled off the victory.

Novratil almost accomplished a perfect night (seven wins in seven races) with the strongest field of the season present. He led every lap in his five heats and his semi-final and led the first three of laps of the four lap feature. He led 27 of 28 laps but that final half lap will stick in his memory.

Novratil and Janniro tied for Industry round four high-point honors with 20 points each. Entering round five in Auburn on September 29, Janniro has 78 points. Runner-up Becker trails with 67 points and Novratil ranks third with 65. D. Ruml is fourth in cumulative points with 45. Fishback is fifth with 42, and Fox sixth with 35 points.

Rounding out the top ten in 2018 AMA National Championship points are: P. 7 tie at 29 points Bart Bast and Russell Green; (P. 9) 28-points, Tommy Hedden; (P. 10) 16-points Jason Ramirez.

PIT NOTES:

   > Eight riders won round four Industry heat race points as follows: (5 wins)- Novratil; (4)- Janniro; (2- each)- Becker, Dillon and Max Ruml, Fox, and Venegas; (1)- Fishback.

   > Two reserves—Eloy Medellin and Dave Hancock-- were listed for the Industry August 11 event. Only Eloy was present with his bike and racing gear. He raced in round four as the replacement for lane three starter Tim Gomez who was excluded by rule for hitting the starting tape prior to the start. Eloy ran all four laps in fourth place for no points on the usual 3-2-1-0 scoring system.

   > D-2 500cc veteran Bruce Marteney (No. 242) fell hard into the turn four crash-wall during an Industry race August 1. The 58-year old San Dimas resident received a concussion, a broken bone in his shoulder and a chipped bone in his scapula. He will be sidelined for the balance of 2018 according to Medellin, his M & M Racing teammate.

   > Regular Wednesday night speedway racing with sidecars will continue August 15 (Junior Kurtz Memorial Cup Night) and August 22 (Laidlaws Harley Night). The Industry 2018 racing season will conclude Saturday, August 25. The 43rd AMA California Sate Championship for 500cc D-1 riders will have most of the August 11 D-1 riders back in action.