Reigning AFT Twins Champion Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) delivered a vintage performance in Saturday night’s Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda Texas Half-Mile at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, to score his first victory of the 2019 American Flat Track season.
From the start, Mees found himself embroiled in a one-on-one shootout with his fellow Indian Wrecking Crewman, Briar Bauman (No. 14 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750), who also just happened to be the AFT Twins championship leader and arguably the rider best positioned to steal Mees’ crown this season.
While Mees racked up a remarkable 20 total victories during his back-to-back title runs in ‘17 and ‘18, he came into the Texas Half-Mile in the midst of a seven-race winless streak. But as hungry as he was to finally end that drought, Bauman certainly made him work for it.
The two immediately broke free from the pack and traded the lead back and forth multiple times with a series of slick overtakes in which they squared one another up exiting Turn 4. Mees finally broke Bauman’s challenge on lap 22 of 25. At that point, he eked out just enough of a gap to breathe a bit easier over the race’s final circulations, claiming the checkered flag with a 1.316-second margin of victory. The win marks Mees’ 27th Half-Mile triumph, breaking a tie for second all-time with the legendary Will Davis.
When asked if he expects Saturday’s win to reopen the floodgates, a measured Mees said, “That would be the goal—that is the goal—and we’d love to do that, but this year is tougher. The guys are better, and they’ve got their machines figured out better. I’ve got to dig down deeper.
“Last year, I basically got a good start, went by Briar when he was on the Kawasaki, and took off. This time, I had to wear the boy out. He rode so good. He was better than me in Turns 3 and 4 early in the race. I saw what he was doing and moved down to his line, and that allowed me to maintain a little bit of a gap.”
Atlanta Short track winner Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Kennedy Racing/Armbruster Racing Indian FTR750) rode a relatively lonely ride to round out the podium in third.
Behind him, Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R Rev X) guided the works H-D to fourth after he tracked down and dispatched a rejuvenated Larry Pegram(No. 72 Indian Motorcycles/Pegram Racing Indian Scout FTR750), who scored a mightily impressive fifth-place finish at the age of 45.
Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys
After getting her 2019 championship campaign off to something of a quiet start, Shayna Texter(No. 52 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing SX-F 450) reminded the world exactly why she’s the rider with the most wins in the history of the AFT Singles class with an ultra-aggressive ride to victory at the Texas Half-Mile.
Texter powered her way from sixth to first in just five laps with multiple hard-charging overtakes. She then threatened to check out but was unable to shake free from a motivated Mikey Rush (No. 15 RMR Honda/Red Riders Rewards Honda CRF450R).
But while Rush was actively searching for a way back past Texter, he saw a front wheel repeatedly attempting to do the same to him over the contest’s final few laps. That wheel belonged to 16-year-old phenom James Ott (No. 193 Media Home Inc./Kawasaki of Simi Valley Honda CRF450R), who was making his professional debut.
Ott closed the opening lap of the Main Event mired outside the top ten yet somehow managed to slice past several of the nation’s most talented dirt track racers and put himself in position to make a last-gasp bid for a maiden victory.
Ott made one final lunge to overtake Rush as Rush did the same to Texter on the race’s final corner. In the end, their positions remained unchanged at the checkered flag. Texter won by a scant 0.129 seconds over Rush with Ott another 0.125 seconds back in third.
Race winner Texter said, “It’s awesome to get the first win behind us. To give Red Bull KTM its first win in American Flat Track is awesome. Hats off to my partners… To be able to win in Roof Systems’ backyard is incredible.”
Last year’s Texas Half-Mile winner, Morgen Mischler (No. 69 Waters Autobody Racing/D&D Powersports KTM 450 SX-F), finished fourth, followed by championship leader Dalton Gauthier(No. 122 D&D Cycles/Gobert Smash Husqvarna FC450) in fifth.
AFT Production Twins
It was a family affair at the Texas Half-Mile as Shayna Texter’s brother, Cory Texter (No. 65 G&G Racing/Holeshot Powersports Yamaha MT-07), was victorious in the opening race of the 11-race 2019 AFT Production Twins championship.
Texter tracked down a quick-starting Dalton Gauthier (No. 122 Racing Unlimited Kawasaki/D&D Cycles Kawasaki Ninja 650) early in the 15-lap Main Event and proceeded to pull clear from there.
Texter ultimately won the race by 1.850 seconds. After the race, the two-time AFT Twins podium finisher said, “This is awesome… I just want to keep it going. A lot of guys wrote me off coming into this race. They didn’t expect me to do much because I’ve had a tough year, and last year I struggled a little bit. But I’m not washed up yet, and I’ve still got more in the tank. We’re going to battle all year long and see what we can do.”
Ryan Varnes (No. 68 Varnes Racing/RoyBuilt/Don’s Kawasaki Ninja 650) fended off 2017 AFT Singles champ Kolby Carlile (No. 136 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07) in a hard-fought scrap for second, while Gaulthier held on for fourth.
Don’t miss the feature broadcast of the Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda Texas Half-Mile presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys on NBCSN. As always, the broadcast will include flag-to-flag coverage of the Main Events enhanced by exclusive features and cutting-edge aerial drone and onboard footage. It will debut on Sunday, April 28, at 5:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. PT and will re-air on Tuesday, April 30, at 4:00 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. PT.
There’s little time to rest as the 2019 American Flat Track season will pick back up at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz., for the Law Tigers Arizona Super TT presented by RideNow Powersports next Saturday, April 27. Live coverage will be available at FansChoice.tv starting at 4:00 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. PT.
story and photos courtesy of American Flat Track