May 31, 2008
Hangtown Saturday: what is up with Ben Townley?
Look, I saw (on a live, pay-per-view webcast no less) Townley running almost as fast as the legendary Ricky Carmichael at that MXoN race a few years back. I have been a "believer" of the New Zealander since then. His championship battle with Ryan Villopoto was intense. Ben is a fast guy.
So what's up with these practice times? It's not like this is his first time on these tracks. Last Saturday at the Glen, he was around 35th fastest in practice; today he clocked a 2:25.830 on the Dirtdiggers-prepared Hangtown course... and that's the 62nd fastest time!
I think I heard David Bailey on the Racer X Pre Show say something about Townley not being worried about setting fast times in free practice, about only going fast when it counts. And at Glen Helen, Townley DID turn faster laps in timed qualifying... but so did everyone else, as the track dried further into perfection.
So the expectation, after free practice, was that Townley would "show up" at least in the top ten during timed qualifying at Hangtown. And that's just what he did, considerably improving his fastest laptime to 2:09.476, to land in 7th in Group B qualifying. But... but... Townley was slower than guys like Juss Lansoo, Chris Blose and Jared Jet Browne. Holy cow, I've never even HEARD of that last guy!
Mr. 101, where are you?