SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The fabled history of the Harley-Davidson Sacramento Mile presented by Cycle Gear saw another outstanding entry added to its annals on Saturday night at Cal Expo Fairgrounds, with three of American Flat Track’s all-time greats taking center stage.
Following an initial feeling-out stage in which a handful of AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines competitors made their presence felt at the front, defending Grand National Champion Jared Mees(No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing SDI Scout FTR750) and retiring legend Kenny Coolbeth Jr.(No. 2 Nila Racing, Columbia Avionics Indian Scout FTR750) broke free from the pack.
The two superstars stretched their advantage over third to nearly two seconds while setting the stage for an epic showdown to the checkered flag.
However, Bryan Smith (No. 4 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) – owner of seven straight Sacramento Mile victories – simply refused to be left out of that fight. He clawed and scratched his way into contention, officially turning the race into a three-way shootout over the contest’s nail-biting final five miles.
In the end, series steamroller Mees overcame Coolbeth, Smith, sentiment and the storybook finish to notch up what’s already his fifth victory of the young 2018 season.
“I thought I heard someone behind me and figured it was Bryan,” Mees said after his 35th career victory. “I thought he was just setting me up, and then Coolbeth came by me once. I looked back and we had a big gap, but then Bryan reeled us in. It’s phenomenal what we’re doing right now, week-in and week-out. It’s definitely tough to do. Hats off to Kenny and Bryan. Kenny is one of my heroes. To be up on the podium with him is pretty cool.”
Coolbeth attempted a last-lap strike but fell 0.018 seconds short at the checkered flag.
It seems the extended Indian Wrecking Crew is in need of an even more intimidating moniker. In addition to works runners Mees (1st), Smith (3rd), and Brad Baker (No. 6 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) (4th), Coolbeth (2nd), Henry Wiles (No. 17 Wilco Racing/Willy Built/Bandit Industries Indian Scout FTR750) (5th), Davis Fisher (No. 67 RMR/Double D Performance Indian Scout FTR750) (6th) and Chad Cose (No. 49 Indian Motorcycle of Oklahoma City Scout FTR750) (7th) combined to claim the top seven positions on the night for Indian Motorcycle. Fisher, by the way, notched the fastest lap of the night.
Jake Johnson (No. 5 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07) was the best of the rest in eighth, with Briar Bauman (No. 14 Zanotti Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650) and Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R) completing the top 10.
Reigning AFT Singles champion Kolby Carlile (No. 1 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) needed a result in the worst way, and did he ever get it. Carlile came through on the final lap following a titanic six-way struggle to score a spectacular victory by a scant 0.013-second margin of victory that felt even tighter than that.
2016 class champ Ryan Wells (No. 94 RMR/Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda CRF450) came from nowhere to dive-bomb into the lead entering Turn 3 on the final lap but couldn’t hold the ambitious line. Carlile successfully countered and then immediately turned his attention to holding title contenders Dan Bromley (No. 62 KTM North America/Bromley Motorsports 450 SX-F) and Brandon Price (No. 92 Parkinson Brothers Racing/DPC Racing Honda CRF450R) at bay as they charged down the straight to the checkered flag.
The riders swung three abreast with Carlile narrowly holding strong at the line. Price hit the stripe in second, another 0.013 seconds ahead of Bromley, to up his slim points advantage over his rival to four (105 to 101).
Carlile has now jumped to eighth with 64 points after becoming the sixth rider in six races to win an AFT Singles Main Event this season.
“The year started off so slow, breaking my shoulder in Daytona and racing through injury while trying to figure the bike out the best we can,” Carlile said. “Me and my mechanic and the whole Estenson Racing team worked so hard this week – we were at the dyno three days straight! We got a bullet, and I can’t thank everyone enough. That race was great. Everyone was clean, and we had some good draft passes. I’m sure the fans loved it.”