Editorial: Implications of the Atlanta Super TT
It’s all too easy to look ahead to the upcoming Yamaha Atlanta Super TT and overlook its potential to have a significant impact on the 2021 Progressive American Flat Track title fight.
After all, following a 2020 season and 2021 opener of growing accustomed to doubleheaders, there are just 25 points up for grabs in Atlanta, at an outlier of a circuit, scheduled near the beginning of a long championship chase.
However, such a mindset could prove disastrous for any prospective champions who find themselves tempted to look past the TT and ahead to the run of seven consecutive Half-Miles and Miles that follow.
Consider how the Yamaha Atlanta Super TT could realistically take shape:
There are several extremely talented Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle pilots on the Atlanta entry list for whom a championship run in ‘21 appears to range between long shot and an impossibility depending on their particular circumstances -- riders like JD Beach, Robert Pearson, Kolby Carlile, James Rispoli, Larry Pegram and Tyler O’Hara.
Yet when you take their riding backgrounds and skill sets into consideration and match them up to the recently unveiled layout and composition that’ll be utilized at Atlanta Motor Speedway, it seems more than likely that a number of them will make waves come race night.
For the more established title hopefuls, those waves will be there to be surfed upon or drowned under.
Beach and Rispoli battle it out in a qualifying session from Round 1.
Photo: Scott Hunter, American Flat Track
If national race-winning roadracers Beach, Rispoli, Pegram and O’Hara, for example, successfully exploit their pavement prowess and go 1-4 on the evening, that’ll create a situation where the Yamaha Atlanta Super TT is likely to have rather limited championship implications (other than potentially setting up Beach to make a bigger title push than preseason expectations would have predicted).
However, if, for example, those same “spoilers” run near the front, and yet reigning Grand National Champion Briar Bauman manages to put them between himself and his primary title rivals, well, that’s a scenario that could completely alter the championship complexion in a single night under the lights.
Based on past TT results (and, at the largely similar DAYTONA TT venue) the aforementioned Bauman headlines the championship contenders with the potential to be “damage maximizers” in the sense outlined above. Others capable of delivering a major title strike of the like include his chief title rival, Jared Mees, along with Jarod Vanderkooi, Bronson Bauman and Sammy Halbert.
Second-ranked Brandon Robinson is among the riders more likely positioned as “damage minimizers” -- riders who’ll be happy enough to escape with as many points as possible, especially if the spoilers keep the likes of Bauman and Mees off the podium as well.
Similar situations not only exist on the undercard, they’re even more pronounced there. That’s especially true in AFT Singles where high-profile wild cards have a history of turning up at TTs and shifting the balance of power.
We’ll revisit that possibility when the entry list becomes more final and the players come into better focus.