Johnny Lewis felt like he was "on a vacation." That's not usually the response of someone who just won his first ever AMA Grand National Championship race, but for the 22-year-old pro flat track rider from Pennsylvania, it's easy to understand what he meant.
Once I was out in front, I never looked back to see where the field was, I just ran my own race.
"We raced on Thursday night," Lewis said of the opening round on the 2012 season in Daytona, Florida. "Round two was on Friday, so I couldn't celebrate too much. It was one of the moments where you wish the day didn't end, because you had to go back to work the next day. It's like when you come home from a vacation and you know you have to work on Monday, you don't want the day to end."
Lewis followed up his opening-night victory with another top-10 in round two, putting him third in points heading into the Memorial Day weekend showdown at the Springfield Mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
I just pointed to the sky and said 'for Mark!'
Lewis had extra motivation during the weekend at Daytona, as he was racing for a close friend who had recently lost his life. "The weeks leading up to Daytona I worked even harder, I wanted to win the race for him," Lewis said. "As soon as I crossed the finish line, I knew I had won, it sunk in, and he was the first person I thought of. I just pointed to the sky and said 'for Mark!'"
Lewis said a simple piece of advice from friend Mike Hacker, just before the main event, helped him win at Daytona. "Mike told my wife to tell me to just ride my race," Lewis said. "We had a dash earlier in the night, and man did I blow that one. I got a poor start and rode everyone else's race. In the main, I just focused on racing the track and getting a hole-shot. Once I was out in front, I never looked back to see where the field was, I just ran my own race."
Lewis thinks the added confidence from his win in Daytona will carry over to the rest of the season, making him a contender in 2012. "When I switched from AMA Supermoto to AMA Flat Track, I felt like everyone had an advantage over me because they had been racing flat track so long," Lewis said. "I knew I could win, but I wasn't truly believing in myself, I always felt like everyone had an advantage over me, but not anymore!"
Lewis, who has a victory in the AMA Pro Supermoto Unlimited class, hopes he can add a third victory in a third class later this season, as he bounces from singles to twins in the flat track circuit. But for now, he is focused on Springfield and a chance to take charge of the GNC points standings.
"I couldn't do this without K&N," Lewis added. "We all know K&N products give us an advantage on our bike, but they also help save us money with the K&N filter system kit we have on our box truck. We did over 30,000 miles last season, and K&N is the reason we were able to complete the whole year."
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