Mees Defeats Multiple Adversaries in Atlanta ST Stunner
WOODSTOCK, Ga. (October 2, 2020) - Progressive American Flat Track legend Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) stood triumphant at the conclusion of an absolutely stunning Yamaha Atlanta Short Track presented by Law Tigers I Friday night at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Georgia.
The thrilling AFT SuperTwins presented by Vance & Hines Main Event got off to an appropriately hot start with Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Happy Trails Racing FTR750) somehow storming into the lead from the second row. Carver’s turn at the front lasted just over a lap before he relinquished the position to Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Coolbeth-Nila Racing Indian FTR750).
After a few hectic laps, Halbert was joined at the front by Mees, and the two promptly teased a repeat of their epic 2017 shootout at the venue. At one point, Halbert’s line pushed Mees up into the hay bales as they traded haymakers for first and set the stage for more fireworks to come.
However, before the two could reserve the spotlight for themselves exclusively, reigning champion Briar Bauman (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) inched his way up to join the party in third.
With seven minutes remaining, Mees sailed past Halbert to grab the lead, only to see Bauman dive under them both in the very next corner. Bauman then threatened to clear off for a fifth consecutive race as Mees and Halbert continued their melee for second.
With five minutes to go, Mees finally shook free of Halbert and chased his championship rival back down at the front. The two then engaged in a bar-to-bar war for the win, crossing lines and pulling off slidejobs with abandon.
The race came down to the final corner; Mees held on to the high line while Bauman attempted to square him up at the line. Mees won out by 0.308 seconds to snap Bauman’s four-race win streak.
After reeling in his 52nd career premier-class victory, Mees said, “I had to settle in. Guys were criss-crossing each other; Briar crossed right in front of me like the third lap in and, man, I almost went down right then and there. But it was good -- this track is so criss-crossy and dicey. I caught him and almost got around him and then made a big mistake. It took me a while to get my rhythm back, and I found something in a couple corners where I could roll really smooth and good.
“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. I finally felt good. I felt relaxed coming into today. I was so off my game the last few races, so I just want to keep it rolling more than anything.”
Even after losing touch with the leaders, Halbert remained in fight mode, attempting to defend third from up-and-comers Brandon Price (No. 92 Roof Systems of Dallas, Texas Indian FTR750) and Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750).
In the end, the younger Bauman handed the Indian Wrecking Crew its first podium sweep of the season, finishing in third by 0.193 seconds over Halbert. Price rounded out the top five another second back.
Mees’ timely victory reignites a title fight that was starting to get away from him. The five points he gained moves him back to within one-race striking distance, reducing Bauman’s lead to 20 (239-219) with five races left to decide the 2020 GNC.
AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys
The rolling Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) racked up his fourth consecutive AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys victory following an extremely entertaining duel with polesitter Morgen Mischler (No. 13 Roof Systems DFW/Duffy Fleet Services KTM 450 SX-F).
Mischler ripped into the lead at the green light with only Daniels able to match his pace. Early in their showdown, Mischler took to his preferred high line, while Daniels went low, and the two practically rode side-by-side for several laps.
Their battle escalated from there, with several more laps of high-low maneuvers that saw them trade the lead back and forth repeatedly.
The third and final stage of their showdown saw Daniels at last grasp control. Mischler sought out a variety of lines in hopes of tracking Daniels back down but came up 0.482 short at the checkered flag.
“We were just on,” Daniels said after scooping his sixth win on the season. “We were searching all day; it’s a track I’ve never been to and I had to learn it, but that just shows how good the team is… It was a good race. Honestly, it was kinda good to get off behind Morgen and watch what he was doing.
“Six wins on the season, four in a row… It’s awesome. We’re getting closer to the championship. It’s definitely not going to be easy. These guys make it tough, but I like the challenge, and I can’t wait until tomorrow.”
Second-ranked Henry Wiles (No. 17 RMR Honda/Honda Talon CRF450R) ran alone in third deep into the Main. However, he saw even more (increasingly crucial) points slip away when eventual third-place finisher Brandon Kitchen (No. 105 Donley Excavating/TCD Suspension Honda CRF450F) overhauled him with a minute remaining, and fourth-place finisher Trent Lowe (No. 48 Roof Systems of Dallas, TX/Shoei Helmets Honda CRF450R) did the same on the race’s final lap.
As a result, Daniels now leads by a mammoth 45-point margin over Wiles (208-163). Daniels’ teammate, Mikey Rush (No. 15 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), who finished 12th despite starting from Row 1, remains ranked third with 148 points.
AFT Production Twins
At long last, defending AFT Production Twins champion Cory Texter (No. 1 G&G Racing/Roof Systems Yamaha MT-07) brought the win streak of runaway title leader James Rispoli (No. 43 Latus Motors Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R) to a halt at five.
Texter, who hadn’t won a race since the season’s opening weekend and had subsequently finished as runner-up to Rispoli on four occasions, was justifiably starving to return to the top of the box. It showed. Brilliant from the start, Texter accelerated into the lead from pole and pulled several bike lengths on the opening lap.
Once a second free out front, he switched his focus to simply maintaining that advantage. On rails and incredibly precise, Texter appeared comfortable weathering a late-race charge from Rispoli when a monkey wrench was thrown into his plans of cruising to a relatively easy victory.
Despite the potential setback of a late-race red flag, Texter simply powered off the line (again) and stretched out a one-second-plus advantage (again) to claim the checkered flag.
“I didn’t like to see that red flag,” Texter admitted. “I was trying to maintain that gap. Before that restart, they told me James was catching me, and I was like, ‘I’m not giving this up easy tonight.’ I wanted it so bad.
“This is awesome. This feels like my first win. I worked so hard in the offseason to defend this #1 plate, and it’s been tough this year. So to come out here and get a win feels really good. I want more.”
Rispoli, meanwhile, continued his march to the 2020 crown with his tenth top-two finish in eleven starts. While Texter ate five points into his lead, #43 still leads by 43 points (244-241) with just five races remaining.
Ryan Varnes (No. 68 RVR/RoyBuilt Don’s Kawasaki Ninja 650) and Ben Lowe (No. 25 Roof Systems of Dallas/Bruce Lowe Excavating Yamaha MT-07) finished third and fourth after running locked in that order for the entire affair.
DAYTONA 200 hero Danny Eslick (No. 64 Scott Powersports/R&D Machine Kawasaki Ninja 650) rounded out the top five.
The Yamaha Atlanta Short Track presented by Law Tigers I & II will air back-to-back on NBCSN on Saturday, October 10, starting at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT. The broadcasts will include exclusive features, cutting-edge aerial drone and onboard footage and the expert commentary of Progressive AFT legend Chris Carr.
Progressive American Flat Track is back in action tomorrow night for the second half of the Dixie Speedway doubleheader, the Yamaha Atlanta Short Track presented by Law Tigers II. Gates will again open at 3:30 p.m. ET/12:30 p.m. PT with the Main Event program slated for 8:45 p.m. ET/5:45 p.m. PT. Live coverage of the entire weekend’s racing activities will be available on any device for less than $1 per event via TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. Tickets for the second night of incredible Progressive AFT action at Dixie Speedway can be purchased at https://store.americanflattrack.com/ebooking/ticket/view/id/3132.