INDIANAPOLIS – It took Briar Bauman nine seasons in American Flat Track’s premier class to finally claim his maiden Mile victory and complete the career Grand Slam.
It took just one day for him to earn a second.
Bauman completed the Indianapolis double with a tactical ride to win Saturday night’s AFT SuperTwins presented by Vance & Hines Main Event at the Indy Mile II.
Saturday’s rematch at the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center took on a different shape compared to Friday’s Indy Mile I, as Jared Mees was determined to prevent the reigning Grand National Champion from executing another early escape.
Lap after lap, Mees would dive back into the lead on corner entrance. Doing so not only kept Bauman corralled behind him, it also put him under threat with both Bryan Smith and Brandon Robinson running in close contention.
After taking and losing the lead on numerous occasions early, Bauman switched up tactics and spent the bulk of the second half of the race just waiting in third, leaving the Mile-proven virtuosos of Mees and Smith to exercise a well-known mutual rivalry.
After Mees had secured a solid lead ahead of a still-determined Smith, Bauman seized the opportunity to make the high line work to his advantage, powering past both living legends to rip open a multiple bike-length lead. Mees did his best to respond on the final lap but couldn’t quite muster enough pace to reel Bauman back to within striking distance.
Bauman took the checkered flag with 1.147 seconds in hand over Mees, while Smith earned Harley’s first Mile podium since the .
“It’s pretty crazy,” Bauman said. “Honestly, I had both Jared’s and Bryan’s posters on my wall when I was growing up. I watched them every chance I could. Getting to race with them is a little bit surreal… The racing was clean and fast and the track was gnarly. All-in-all, it’s a dream come true.”
Robinson lost touch with the leaders with around three minutes to go but had built up just enough space to hold off a charging Sammy Halbert for fourth. Bronson Bauman finished fifth.
Bauman’s twin victories move him ahead of Mees in what’s promising to be a season-long heavyweight title fight, 90-87. Halbert is a distant third with 66 points to his credit.
In other action, Henry Wiles earned his first victory since transitioning to the AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys class following one of the most entertaining races in recent memory.
As many as 10 riders still had a shot at the win as the clock showed 0:00, setting up an epic final two laps to decide the race.
No matter how massive the pack, Wiles ran near the front throughout, swapping the lead on countless occasions with last night’s surprise winner, Brandon Kitchen, former teammate Cole Zabala and Dallas Daniels.
Long-time AFT Singles standouts Shayna Texter and Ryan Wells emerged late, both flashing the potential to steal the win away in the same fashion that Kitchen had the night before.
As the final lap played out, it became increasingly obvious the race would come down to a final straight shootout between Wiles and Zabala. Wiles worked hard to open up a small advantage through turns one, two and three, but appeared vulnerable after making a slight bobble while exiting turn four.
Zabala pulled right up behind Wiles and then swung out of his draft with the checkered flag in sight. While he managed to speed up alongside his opponent’s bike, he didn’t have quite enough steam to complete the winning maneuver.
Texter finished third, with Daniels, Wells and Kitchen taking fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively.
James Rispoli got a second chance to end his run of AFT Production Twins second-place finishes. He responded by winning by more than 12 seconds in an absolute show of force.
Rispoli had been knocking on the door ever since returning to dirt track in 2019 after assembling a national championship-winning roadracing career. He notched up four podiums a year ago, and opened his 2020 campaign with three consecutive runner-up finishes.
Rispoli established himself as the heavy favorite on Saturday night, topping both qualifying sessions and running away with his semi. Despite the lofty expectations set by his pace, he was quickly swallowed up and shuffled back to fourth as the main event got underway.
The race was completely reset, however, following a Michael Inderbitzin crash. This time around, Rispoli stole the holeshot and quickly erased any aspirations of victory his rivals might have entertained as he disappeared into the distance.
Rispoli was consistently a full second per lap better than the rest of the field, ultimately taking the checkered flag with a massive 12.396-second margin of victory.
The win was Rispoli’s first in American Flat Track competition in more than a decade.
The race for second was considerably less predictable with as many as six riders in contention for the position deep into the contest. Friday winner Ben Lowe and 2015 GNC2 Indy victor Nick Armstrong resumed Friday’s intense scrap as they repeatedly went side-by-side angling for the spot.
At least they did until both riders found themselves outclassed by reigning class champion Cory Texter, who sailed past and then eked out a gap on the final lap to finish as the race’s runner-up.
Armstrong held on for third to score his first AFT podium result since the aforementioned ‘15 Indy win. Chad Cose came home fourth, edging Lowe at the stripe by 0.019 seconds.