RAPID CITY, S.D. — For the second time in what’s becoming a breakout American Flat Track season, Briar Bauman demonstrated the resiliency of a champion with a rebound victory in Tuesday night’s Black Hills Half-Mile Presented By Law Tigers.
Two rounds ago, the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines title leader bounced back from a season’s worst 16th-place result with a blowout win in the New York Short Track.
The factory Indian ace replicated that trick at Black Hills Speedway, following up a second 16th-place disappointment in Sunday’s Buffalo Chip TT with another convincing triumph.
Bauman led the way practically throughout the once red-flagged and restarted Main, despite being kept honest by Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Roof-Systems of Dallas/Indian of Metro Milwaukee FTR750) and brother Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750).
Reigning champion Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) had looked to join that fight up front as well but slid out in turn one while running in fifth position.
Davis Fisher (No. 67 Bob Lanphere Beaverton Motorcycles/Dick Wall 60 Indian FTR750), who was in sixth at the time, was forced to intentionally slam into the airfence in order to avoid striking the fallen Mees. Moments later, Robert Pearson (No. 27 R/J Performance/Hite Trucking Indian FTR750) rode over top of Fisher’s downed machine while taking evasive action himself to avoid hitting both men.
All three eventually returned to their feet, although Fisher’s and Pearson’s bikes were too heavily damaged to take part in the restart. Meanwhile, Mees only narrowly managed to rejoin the fray, returning to the track just before the field had completed the opening lap of the restarted race.
Up front, Bauman fought off an immediate advance from Carver and held strong to the flag, securing his third win of the season by 1.136 seconds. Carver finished second with Bronson Bauman another 0.157 seconds back in third.
“I threw the thing on the ground twice the other night,” race-winner Bauman said. “I owed my team this win times ten. I can’t thank them enough. The motorcycles for me and Bronson were incredible, and we work together so well as a team.
“You dream of this when you’re a kid, but you don’t think it’s ever going to become a reality because you just race because you love it. To be on a team with my brother, and win here in front of some incredible fans, it means a lot.”
Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Kennedy Racing/Armbruster Racing Indian FTR750) was forced to work hard to claim fourth, displacing former WorldSBK pilot PJ Jacobsen (No. 199 Coolbeth-Nila Racing Indian FTR750) late in the contest.
Weeks after claiming his first-career American Flat Track win in the AFT Production Twins class following a decade of trying, Chad Cose (No. 49 Parkinson Bros Racing/Rod Lake Suzuki RMZ 450) backed it up by scoring his first-ever Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys victory in thrilling fashion.
Cose had to fight for it throughout, waging a series of back-and-forth melees with the likes of holeshotter Morgen Mischler (No. 69 Waters Autobody Racing/D&D Powersports KTM 450 SX-F), the ever-aggressive Shayna Texter (No. 52 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing SX-F 450), and AFT Singles championship leader Dalton Gauthier (No. 122 D&D Cycles/Gobert Smash Husqvarna FC450).
Cose was seriously hooked up in the return of his still-developing American Suzuki RMZ 450; he was able to exploit multiple lines and had an answer for everything Mischler and Texter threw at him late, including when Texter rode up the inside and alongside him in an attempt to steal away the win in the race’s final several corners.
Cose held it open around the outside and edged Texter to the flag by 0.062 seconds with Mischler just over a half-second back in third.
Cose said, “I don’t know if I want to call it lucky or good or somewhere in between, but the racecraft comes into play. I know she has so much experience at this, and it was a game of cat and mouse. Luckily I crossed the finish line first.”
Michael Inderbitzin (No. 54 Morris Racing/Mark Strock CRF450R) took fourth, followed by rookie prodigy Dallas Daniels (No. 163 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) in fifth.
Ryan Varnes (No. 68 Varnes Racing/RoyBuilt Kawasaki Ninja 650) had been knocking on the door for years, and he finally smashed through it with a lopsided win in Tuesday night’s 15-lap AFT Production Twins Main Event.
Varnes worked the low line to perfection, which, when combined with the R5 Dunlop Motorcycle Tire (Varnes was the only AFT Production Twins rider to ride the softer compound), helped him to power underneath early leader J.R. Addison (No. 24 Smith/Addison Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650) on lap 3. From that point on, Varnes continually stretched out his advantage before easing off and coasting to a 1.471-second margin of victory in what was his maiden American Flat Track triumph.
“The bike was just working,” Varnes said. “I didn’t get the best start and I ran it in the bottom and just went for it. It seemed to work out. It chugged through the bottom no problem. I ducked into second and made another pass down low and then rode my own race. I was charging the whole time and didn’t look back until the last corner. It was just awesome. Getting my first win ever… I feel like it’s long overdue, but I can’t thank all my sponsors enough.”
Addison almost got gobbled up by a wild inter-team scrap for the final spot on the podium between James Rispoli (No. 71 Black Hills Harley-Davidson XG750R Rev X) and Dalton Gauthier (No. 122 Black Hills Harley-Davidson XG750R Rev X).