Bronson Bests Briar In Battle Of The Baumans

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Bronson Bauman (37) leads Henry Wiles early in Saturday's Laconia Short Track. (Scott Hunter/AFT photo)

LOUDON, N.H. – American Flat Track’s inaugural Laconia Short Track presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys proved to be an intense, multi-stage affair that ultimately saw the emergence of a first-time winner in Bronson Bauman.

Technically, Bauman led every lap en route to the win in the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines Main Event at The Flat Track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The reality wasn’t nearly that clean or simple.

The all-new circuit proved to be an extraordinarily demanding battleground, developing considerable bumps in the corners and rapidly altering lines.

Bauman stormed into the lead early on, only to quickly lose the position to short track superstar Henry Wiles, but the race’s first red flag was shown moments later.

The positions were then reverted back a lap, elevating Bauman to the lead for the restart. He held that position ahead of brother Briar Bauman until the race was stopped for a second time.

Following the second restart, Briar found a way around Bronson and into the lead, but again, the race was immediately stopped when Wiles crashed and his downed machine was clipped by Jarod Vanderkooi.

Once again, the order reverted, rehanding Bronson the advantage for the restart.

Adding to the drama, the bike of defending Grand National Champion Jared Mees stalled while awaiting the third restart, eliminating him from contention.

Bronson got away clean for the third and final restart and managed to fend his brother off over the last five laps to at last claim his maiden premier class victory.

After his milestone win, Bronson Bauman was understandably emotional in victory lane.

“With so many red flags and all the stopping and going, it was honestly getting to me a little bit,” said Bronson Bauman. “I knew to breathe and stay calm, but on the last restart I knew who was behind me, and I know how fast my brother is. To be able to hold him off … honestly, I think he may have given me a couple of bike lengths, that way I didn’t take us both out. I definitely got tight, just being nervous out there.

“I have no idea how I was able to pull this off, but I am stoked.”

It was the second time the Bauman brothers have combined for a 1-2, backing up Briar’s victory in last year’s Williams Grove Half-Mile. The result was also Briar’s fifth consecutive runner-up finish as he maintained his perfect 2019 podium record.

As a result, his title advantage now stands at an imposing 34 points over Brandon Robinson, who finished sixth. Mees is an additional point back in third after being credited with 15th on the day.

Short track ace Jake Johnson charged his way to third place, while Vanderkooi and Bryan Smith rounded out the top five.

Wiles fought his way back up to seventh, and recently retired Superbike star Roger Hayden scored an impressive eighth while subbing for JD Beach.

The surging Mikey Rush moved into the championship lead in the Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys title fight by securing his second consecutive Main Event victory.

Rush appeared to be battling his way to second place with short track standout Dalton Gauthier more than three seconds out in front at mid-distance, however, a red flag provided Rush the second chance he needed.

At the restart, Rush and Gauthier’s contrasting lines worked decidedly in Rush’s favor, and he established himself as the race leader after a quick flurry of lead changes.

But after opening up a one-plus second advantage of his own, Rush was then required to defend his hard-earned lead following a second red flag and restart.

He managed to do so with relatively little drama, commanding the chaos that was the final five-lap shootout with a 1.888-second margin of victory.

“It feels great,” Rush said after picking up back-to-back victories. “Hats off to my team — they give me a great motorcycle week-in and week-out. Everything is flowing right now and I think we can keep this going and be there at the end of the season.”

Gauthier held on to finish as the race runner-up and moved up into second in the AFT Singles championship chase as a result, while up-and-coming Aussie Max Whale earned his first career American Flat Track podium in third.

Andrew Luker and defending class champ Dan Bromley completed the top five.

Former title leader Jesse Janisch finished ninth. He now sits third in the standings, 12 points back of Rush and two behind Gauthier.