American Flat Track Is Georgia Bound

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American Flat Track
American Flat Track will embark on round two of the season this weekend at Dixie Speedway in Georgia for the Atlanta Short Track. (Brian J. Nelson Photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – American Flat Track will continue its southeast swing, heading north for the Atlanta Short Track presented by Indian Motorcycle on Saturday.

The best flat track racers in the world will take to the Georgia clay on the three-eighths-mile Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Ga., in another all-new event.

The battle for the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines title resumes at round two between rivals and Indian Motorcycle teammates Jared Mees and Bryan Smith. Mees fired the first shot at the historic season opener at the Harley-Davidson Daytona TT presented by Politis & Matovina and goes into the Atlanta Short Track presented by Indian Motorcycle hopeful to carry his winning momentum. If the three-time Grand National Champion can pull off back-to-back victories, he will not only keep his points advantage rolling, he will score his first Short Track win, the final victory he needs to complete the coveted dirt track Grand Slam.

“I’m excited to race at a new venue,” said Mees, who gave Indian Motorcycle its first major victory in nearly six decades at Daytona. “I seem to like the unexpected because the team and I can adapt well. I have some laps on the track from last year testing on the Indian so I can at least start with a base line. Winning that opening round was huge for me because I seem to do well once I build momentum and I have never won a race early in the season, let alone round one. I’m looking forward to Atlanta because it’s the only short track on the circuit and now with winning the TT it would be nice to complete the Grand Slam with that Short Track win. If it doesn’t happen this weekend, it will have to be next year as there is only one Short Track this season.”

Smith is also looking forward to Atlanta and the new era of Twins on a Short Track, as the defending champ struggled to find a comfort zone on the 450cc single-cylinder motorcycles used on Short Tracks and TTs in the past. Having scored a runner-up result at the Daytona TT on a twin-cylinder machine, the Michigan native was happy to leave Daytona trailing Mees by just five points and looks to close that gap at Dixie Speedway.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to winning,” Smith said. “People have always looked at me and said, ‘that Smith guy struggles on the Short Tracks,’ but actually I’ve won on a Short Track before. I’ve just struggled on the 450 Motocross bikes, never liked the feel of them. Now that we’re racing on Twins, I like my odds.”

“I’m looking forward to getting back to winning,” Smith said. “People have always looked at me and said, ‘that Smith guy struggles on the Short Tracks,’ but actually I’ve won on a Short Track before. I’ve just struggled on the 450 Motocross bikes, never liked the feel of them. Now that we’re racing on Twins, I like my odds.”

The third Indian Motorcycle rider, Brad Baker, plans to return to action in Atlanta after being sidelined from a Heat race crash at the season opener. Pending medical clearance to resume racing, the return of the 2013 Grand National Champion will give the Indian “Wrecking Crew” a three-rider threat in Georgia.

After a rough start at Daytona, Harley-Davidson’s Factory Team will be looking to rebound. Jake Johnson had the squad’s best finish, placing fifth in the opener. Johnson is part of a three-rider Factory effort, competing alongside fellow Grand National Champion Kenny Coolbeth Jr. and up-and-coming star Brandon Robinson.

Sitting third in the standings is TT specialist Henry Wiles. Although Wiles is mostly known for his dominance on the TTs, the Michigan-native is no slouch on the Short Tracks, as evidenced by his Grand National Championship Singles title from 2010. With a new team for 2017, Wiles brings a lot of confidence into the new era of American Flat Track and looks to spoil the factory teams’ party.