MECHANICSBURG, Pa. – Briar Bauman seized back the momentum with a timely victory in Saturday night’s Williams Grove Half-Mile presented by Appalachian Harley-Davidson.
Bauman’s fifth win of the American Flat Track season earned him a bit of breathing space in the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines championship hunt as time is running out for multi-time defending champion Jared Mees in his bid to make it three straight.
Bauman and Mees clashed in an early-lap dogfight that teased a race-long showdown between the two title contenders. However, Bauman was simply too strong for Mees on this night, powering away from his rival six laps into the 25-lap main.
Bauman couldn’t exhale quite that early, however. Rookie revelation Brandon Price rolled by the champ and set his sights on Bauman for the lead on lap seven.
Price pushed Bauman to the checkered flag, collecting his maiden premier-class podium finish, .878 seconds off the win.
Mees was knocked off the podium entirely when Davis Fisher made his way into third. Mees attempted a last-corner maneuver to steal back the position – and some critical points in the process – but came up just short.
As a result, Bauman extended his title advantage to 35 points and is well poised to clinch his first AFT Twins championship a round early at the Indian Motorcycle Minnesota Mile presented by Law Tigers on Sept. 21.
“The success tonight comes from the team,” Bauman said. “They’ve done everything for me, and the bike has been so good. I was nervous in the pits earlier, and they got my spirits up. Bronson has been struggling, but he came up to me and said, ‘dude, you’re the baddest guy here – just go out and get it.’
“I have such a good support group. My family has been at all the rounds and all the fans and my friends… I come to the racetrack to see my family and I race while I’m here. I can’t thank everyone enough for being here.”
Dalton Gauthier registered his second-consecutive Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys victory to expand his championship advantage.
Gauthier and reigning champion Dan Bromley went back and forth over the race’s opening half, throwing big moves as they tussled for the lead. Gauthier ultimately outlasted the spirited effort of Bromley to shake free on lap seven and never looked back.
Bromley had other worries beyond Gauthier’s class-leading fourth victory. He was first dropped to third by a confident Morgen Mischler and then lost out in a last-lap battle with charging Englishman Oliver Brindley for the final spot on the podium.
As a result, Gauthier now leads Bromley by 15 points with two races left to decide this year’s champion. Third-ranked Mikey Rush kept his title hopes alive with another top-five result in fifth.
Ryan Varnes registered a wire-to-wire victory in the 15-lap AFT Production Twins Main event to make his once quiet championship bid a whole lot louder.
Varnes sprinted away to the holeshot with polesitter Dalton Gauthier in tight formation. Gauthier dove up the inside of Varnes entering turn three on lap two. Varnes immediately countered, squaring Gauthier back up and retaking the lead a short straight later.
Varnes continually solidified his advantage from there; he never offered the talented Gauthier a second opportunity for a strike and managed to break his challenge over the race’s final five laps.
Title leader Cory Texter closed down on Gauthier late, but simply ran out of laps. He finished .412 seconds back of Gauthier in third to complete an all-Pennsylvania podium.
Varnes’ second win of the season catapults him into second in the championship standings and pulls him to within 16 points of Texter with two rounds remaining.