Event Grand Marshal Brian Stokes has been making a habit of getting out early in a race and leaving the field behind at the AMA Racing Road Race Grand Championships at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. But racers didn't follow the script in the Middleweight Superbike race.
Stokes got a good start but right on his tail were racers Sam Gaige (above) of Rochester, N.Y.; Miles Thornton of West Point, Ga.; and A.J. Krause of Hempstead, N.Y.
On the third lap Thornton showed Gaige a wheel and then passed him.
By the fourth lap Thornton was right on Stokes' rear wheel. On the fifth lap, Stokes looked over his shoulder, saw Thornton right there and put his head down to try to pull away. But Thornton stayed with him. Gaige was catching up to Thornton. Krause, meanwhile, couldn't keep up the pace and began dropping back.
By the last lap, Stokes held only a bike length lead. The 15-year-old Thornton hoped to get into his draft and pass for the lead but failed, finishing second. Gaige finished third.
It was an amazing ride for Thornton, who hopes to be noticed for the AMA Road Race Horizon Award, which recognizes the amateur racer poised to make an impact in the pro ranks. Stokes is ineligible for the award -- or the AMA Racing national titles being decided at the event -- because he has held a pro license.