Dalton Gauthier Strikes It Big In Springfield

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Dalton Gauthier earned an important AFT Singles win Friday in Springfield, Ill. (Scott Hunter/AFT Photo)
Dalton Gauthier earned an important AFT Singles win Friday in Springfield, Ill. (Scott Hunter/AFT Photo)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Championship hopeful Dalton Gauthier scored a critical victory in Friday night’s Springfield Short Track to claim sole possession of the Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys points lead.

The action at the Illinois State Fairgrounds was every bit as tense and frenetic as one would expect an Roof Systems AFT Singles Short Track showdown to be. In the midst of a tight title fight with three races remaining on the American Flat Track calendar, and serving as a microcosm of the season to date, while a handful of riders enjoyed their moments in the spotlight. Ultimately it all came down to Gauthier and reigning class champion Dan Bromley.

Former AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines standout Chad Cose stormed to the holeshot and threatened to break free of the chaos before anyone else had an opportunity to react. However, Gauthier rolled forward on the momentum he had built up all day long when he ran quickest in both qualifying sessions and ripped to heat and semi victories.

Gauthier first slashed ahead of Spanish dirt track hero Ferran Cardús to move into third and then ran up the inside of Bromley to take over second on lap seven. By lap 10, he was hounding Cose inside and outside, applying heavy pressure wherever possible in hopes of prompting a mistake.

That mistake came on lap 13. Gauthier squared up Cose and the two very nearly came together on the short straight as Gauthier slid ahead into first. Once clear, the new leader was able to call on his superior pace to pull open just enough of a gap to negate the possibility of a potential last-lap Hail Mary.

Title rival Bromley was going in the opposite direction, dropping down to fourth after he was also overhauled by Peoria TT winner Dallas Daniels.

Sixteen-year-old prodigy Daniels had earned the pole but was shuffled back to seventh early. Undeterred, he clawed his way through the fray, not only edging ahead of Bromley but lining up Cose for the runner-up position.

Desperate to minimize the championship damage done by another Gauthier victory, Bromley turned in a clutch sequence of his own. With time running out, the defending champ dove up the inside of Daniels and Cose in two consecutive corners to leap up from fourth to second in one short lap. From there he held on to the checkered flag to remain within five points of Gauthier for the Roof Systems AFT Singles championship lead (241-236).

The victory was Gauthier’s third of the season.

“It’s huge. Coming into these last few races, it’s anyone’s game,” said Gauthier. I’m trying to get in front of Dan as much as I can, but he’s running strong. We’re having fun.

“Chad rode a really great race. It took me a few laps to catch him, but he was riding defensively. I just waited. I knew I had a few laps to go so I just waited for the mistake. He made one, and we got pretty close, but it was clean racing.”

Daniels secured his second consecutive podium, in third, in what was just his sixth-career AFT outing, while Cose ended up one spot off the box after leading the majority of the laps.

Meanwhile, Mikey Rush kept his championship aspirations alive in fifth. While the bulk of the focus is understandably on Gauthier and Bromley, Rush remains very much in contention. He’s within striking distance — 25 points back of the lead (216) — with a Half-Mile and two Miles left to decide the 2019 crown.