Jared Mees bounces back to retake points lead with Rolling Wheels Half-Mile victory
Shayna Texter takes fourth AFT Singles win of the season
ELBRIDGE, N.Y. (July 8, 2017) – American Flat Track was back in action following a two-week haitus for the Rolling Wheels Half-Mile presented by Old Carriage House Apartments, and it was a long two weeks indeed for Jared Mees.
Last time out, at the Lima Half-Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle, Mees failed to make the Main Event -- a race he promoted himself -- after twice jumping the start during his Semi race. Adding insult to injury, he lost his AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines championship lead in the process to rival Bryan Smith
On Saturday night, in front of another packed house at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park, Mees took out all of those pent-up frustrations on the field. He obliterated all challengers en route to claiming his fifth checkered flag of the 2017 campaign with a near five-second margin of victory.
Mees was forced to deal with rival Sammy Halbert on the race's opening lap. The two banged bars as they jostled for the inside on Lap 1, with Halbert diving into the lead heading into Turn 3. Mees squared up the turn and slotted back underneath to reacquire the position by the completion of the first lap. The three-time Grand National Champion continually worked up his advantage from there, steadily stretching it out before finally taking the win with 4.918 seconds in hand.
The victory marks the 25th of Mees' career. It also saw him complete an in-season Grand Slam with triumphs across all four disciplines (TT, Short Track, Mile and Half-Mile) in 2017, with eight races still remaining on the calendar.
Now back in control of the title fight, Mees said, "(Lima's) behind us. That was my mistake, my fault, and I needed to come back and do exactly this. I had two long weeks to think about my mistake.
"My team means the world to me. They never stop – just like me. We work extremely hard… you've definitely got to put in the hard work. We were good out of the box. From the first lap in practice to the last lap in the Main Event, I feel like we were the dominant guy and it showed."
Sammy Halbert posted his second runner-up finish of the season, his last coming after a race-long battle with Mees at The Red Mile in Lexington last month.
He said, "We put up a fight, but it only lasted a lap, unfortunately. Me and Jared were banging elbows before we even took off for the start. We were both trying to squeeze each other out. I got a great start, and that first lap was aggressive. I got him going into [Turn] 3, side-by-side, but he shot underneath me in [Turns] 3-4 and pushed me out pretty wide. I had to roll out of her to keep her off the fence.
"He was just going better than me today. I hung with him for quite a while but just didn't have it when it came down to it."
Brad Baker picked up his seventh podium result of the year but had to work for it in the end. A seemingly lonely third was made considerably less when Baker was joined on his rear wheel by Jeffrey Carver Jr. late in the contest.
Carver had been forced to slice his way up from outside the top five, dispatching a number of the sport's big names as he climbed the order. However, despite managing to close the distance on Baker, finding a way past proved too tall an order to accomplish before they took the checkered flag.
Third-place finisher Baker said, "Any time you're on the box it's a good night. Typically, tracks like this are not ones I shine on. I did pretty poor here last year, so to get on the podium feels really good. I was in a race of my own for the most part. I tried to settle into third and pick off my laps, but Jeffrey caught up to me at the end and gave me a little bit of a fight. It was a good race.
"I've been consistently on the box this year, so that's really good, but I still haven't gotten a win yet. I'd really love to do that here one of these races."
Brandon Robinson made it two Harleys inside the top five, edging Lima winner Briar Bauman by 0.119 of a second for fifth.
Smith endured his worst finish of the season in seventh. He relinquished the points lead to Mees as a result, and now trails his rivals by eight points (202-194). After opening the year red hot with four wins, a second, and a third in the season's first six races, Smith finds himself in something of a cold streak – at least by his lofty standards. In his last four outings, he's tallied up results of fourth, third, sixth, and seventh.
Shayna Texter continued to stamp her authority on the AFT Singles title fight with a wire-to-wire victory at the Rolling Wheels Half-Mile.
An expected shootout with Kevin Stollings failed to materialize, as Stollings dropped outside the top five early while Texter controlled the race from the front throughout.
The victory is Texter's fourth on the season, and increases her series leading all-time AFT Singles wins record to 10.
"It was incredible," Texter said. "I just tried to go out there and run as hard as I could for 15 laps and not look back. This is my fourth win of the year, but this one is super special because it's the first time my mom and my step-dad were able to make it out to a race in some time. It's incredible to get a win in front of them."
Wyatt Anderson did manage to at least keep Texter honest in second. The runner-up result is his second such finish of the season, backing up his outstanding performance in the season-opening Harley-Davidson DAYTONA TT presented by Politis & Matovina.
Kolby Carlile rebounded from an unlucky Lima Half-Mile to land on the podium in front of his home fans. His third-place finish also sees him move back in front of Brandon Price (No. 92 DPC Racing/Don's Kawasaki KX450F) for second in the points standings, albeit some 32 points behind Texter.
Stollings ultimately came home in fourth after being shuffled down as low as seventh in the race's early stages.
The Rolling Wheels Half-Mile will air on NBCSN on Thursday, September 7, at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
American Flat Track's title chase rolls on to Rolling Wheels Raceway Park
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2017) – Now that the fireworks have cooled off from America’s Independence Day celebrations, the world’s top dirt track motorcycle racers are set to create some fireworks of their own in upstate New York. On Saturday, July 8, Rolling Wheels Raceway Park will play host to the 10th round of the 2017 American Flat Track championship. This year’s event will be the second running of the Rolling Wheels Half-Mile and also marks the start of the second half of the 18-round season.
This turning point is not lost on rivals Bryan Smith and Jared Mees, who are once again locked in a heated battle for the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines title. The pair are also seeking some redemption at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park, but for different reasons.
At the moment, defending Grand National Champion Smith holds the upper hand with a five-point lead over Mees. It’s always good to have an advantage, but the champ wants to get back to winning, especially considering his crushing loss to Mees in the inaugural Rolling Wheels Half-Mile. In last year’s contest, Smith was the class of the field throughout the majority of the event, but saw the win slip just out of his grip in the Main Event.
“I was the fastest guy there all day last year, but I didn’t get the holeshot. Mees did and he beat me,” Smith said. “I want to be the fastest guy all day -- including the Main this year. We were dead even. He got the holeshot, I was second off the line and he beat me. Everything I tried to do, I just kept messing up and getting further away. I’d catch him, and go further away. So, I just want to win. Period. I feel like I need to win it and beat him, no doubt.”
As for Mees, his need to redeem himself is much more recent and he has something to prove after a frustrating Lima Half-Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle – an event which he also promoted. The three-time Grand National Champion made a costly error, jumping the start twice in his Semi and failing to make the Main. Although that error only cost him a five-point deficit, Mees is eager for a fresh start as the season heads past the halfway point.
“I’m looking forward to this race,” Mees said simply. “I need to get back in my groove after my mistake in Lima. The season starts here; nine races down and nine to go. Let's go!”
Trailing Smith and Mees in the standings is fellow Indian Wrecking Crew member, Brad Baker The 2013 Grand National Champion is equally eager for the win, and has been on the verge of his first 2017 victory all too often in nearly every event this season.
Although Briar Bauman was the first rider to bust up Indian Motorcycle’s win streak at the previous round in Lima, Ohio, Sammy Halbert has consistently been able to run with the Wrecking Crew. Halbert currently sits fourth in the AFT Twins points standings and is also looking for his first win of the year.
Sitting fifth in the championship, Jeffrey Carver Jr. continues to impress. Carver Jr. scored his first podium of the season at Lima, and did the same last year at Rolling Wheels. The Illinois native will look to build on his growing momentum and have a go at the top spot this weekend.
Bauman sits sixth, followed by the young Davis Fisher and Brandon Robinson , who leads the charge for the factory Harley squad.
It’s also a safe bet to look for Robinson's teammates -- Kenny Coolbeth and Jake Johnson – who are sure to show strength on the red clay in upstate New York.