Reigning AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines champion Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing SDI Scout FTR750) stormed to his second straight win of the season in a rain delayed Round 2 at the Atlanta Short Track on Sunday April 8.
Mees mastered the tricky, slick conditions to secure his 32nd career premier-class victory in lopsided fashion. The champ broke free early and then piled it on from there as the race evolved. With his lead never seriously challenged, Mees eased up late and still took the checkered flag with nearly two seconds in hand.
|Photo Credit: Scott Hunter/American Flat Track|
Mees has now opened his championship campaign with back-to-back victories at the DAYTONA TT and Atlanta Short Track for a second consecutive season.
While Mees quickly eliminated the drama expected in the fight for the win, Kenny Coolbeth (No. 2 Nila Racing, Columbia Avionic Indian Scout FTR750), Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R), and Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Roof-Systems/Indian of Metro Milwaukee H-D XR750) more than made up for it in a thrilling dogfight for the remaining spots on the podium. The trio quickly worked past a fast-starting Henry Wiles (No. 17 Wilco Racing/Willy Built/Bandit Industries Indian Scout FTR750) and proceeded to engage in a heavyweight tilt for second.
Rising star Vanderkooi made evident the vast progress Harley-Davidson has made with its still-developing XG750R by holding down second for an extended run. But despite his impressive performance he was ultimately overhauled by both Coolbeth – who has more years in professional dirt track than Vanderkooi has on the planet – and Carver.
The Atlanta runner-up result, combined with his DAYTONA TT eighth-place ride, sees Coolbeth move into second in the early-season points standings. Having recently announced that this will be his final AFT season, the series legend appears both motivated and capable of going out on a high note as he continues to gain speed aboard his privateer Indian Scout FTR750.
While Vanderkooi showed the progress being made with Harley-Davidson’s new machine, Carver demonstrated that there’s still plenty of life left in the manufacturer’s venerable XR750 platform as well. He said: “We brought out the Gary Goodwin/Roof-Systems XR750. Harley still has a good power plant. Jarod showed the new bike is going good, but we thought coming to some of these slick tracks, the XR750 would be the best bet.
Vanderkooi crossed the line 0.126 seconds back in fourth. He said: “The Harley-Davidson Vance & Hines XG750R is amazing. The team did a whole ton of work over the off-season, and I think it’s paying off. We’re putting it towards the front and making changes as we go. Now we just need to get the riders up to speed, and we’ll be good.”
Short Track master Wiles and part-time series ace Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Richie Morris Racing Indian Scout FTR750) took fifth and sixth aboard their privateer Scout FTR750s. In doing so, they bumped the second and third members of the Indian Wrecking Crew down to seventh (Brad Baker (No. 6 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) and eighth (Bryan Smith (No. 4 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) one year after they helped execute a works Indian clean sweep of the podium at Dixie Speedway.
Jake Johnson (No. 5 Estenson Racing Yamaha FZ-07) and Kayl Kolkman (No. 98 Kolkman Racing/Stamp Concrete Development Yamaha FZ-07) came home in ninth and tenth, leaving heavy-hitters Briar Bauman (No. 14 Zanotti Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650) and Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R) outside the top ten.
Roadracing ace JD Beach (No. 95 G&G Racing/Rickdiculous Racing/Team95 Yamaha FZ-07), who finished as runner-up at the DAYTONA TT and topped one of Saturday’s qualifying sessions, was eliminated from contention in the Semis due to a flat tire.
Following a rather difficult opener, last year’s AFT Singles title contenders came back strong in Atlanta, led by dominant race winner Brandon Price (No. 92 Parkinson Brothers Racing/DPC Racing Honda CRF450R). Price was the class of the field on Sunday, recovering from a poor start to quickly seize the lead. He then doubled down by reclaiming his spot at the front following a subsequent red flag and restart.
Price, last year’s AFT Singles championship runner-up, ultimately took the checkered flag with a near identical margin of victory to that of Mees in the Twins Main (1.667s vs 1.668s).
Last year’s champ, Kolby Carlile (No. 1 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), and 2017 third-ranked Shayna Texter (No. 52 ST52 Husqvarna FC450) rebounded to secure their first points of the season by finishing eighth and seventh, respectively.
However, Dan Bromley (No. 62 Big Momma & Daddy Deep Pockets Racing KTM 450 SX-F) continued to show that he needs to be considered a serious title contender in his own right. He backed up his DAYTONA TT victory with a second-place run on Sunday.
Kevin Stollings (No. 99 Roof Systems Honda CRF450R) completed the podium in third, with Oliver Brindley (No. 24 Yamaha/Hayley/Fox Plant Yamaha YZ450F) and Morgen Mischler (No. 69 Cycle Craft Yamaha/Rohde's Sales & Service Yamaha YZ450F) rounding out the top five.
2016 AFT Singles champ Ryan Wells (No. 94 RMR/Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda CRF450) finished sixth after a nasty, multi-bike crash in his semi.
Next up, American Flat Track travels to Fort Worth, Texas, to tackle its first Half-Mile of the season, the Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys at Texas HM presented by Dallas Honda, on Saturday, April 28.