RAPID CITY, S.D. — The rolling Jared Mees took another important step toward the American Flat Track championship with a victorious performance in Tuesday night’s Harley-Davidson Black Hills Half-Mile.
Mees systematically dismantled the competition around Black Hills Speedway aboard the No. 9 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing Scout FTR750 not once, but twice, during the course of the Main Event.
The AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines points leader saw a two-plus second advantage wiped clean when a red flag momentarily halted the action just after the race’s halfway point. Undaunted, Mees simply reenacted his earlier escape, quickly assembling just enough of a gap to break free of the scrap for second. He would eventually sail past the checkered flag without any real fear of coming under assault from behind.
Thirteen races into the 19-race season, Mees boasts seven wins, 11 top-twos, and 12 podium results. Not surprisingly, that sort of consistent excellence has allowed the three-time Grand National Champion to pile up a 36-point championship advantage.
Factoring in his Sunday second at the Buffalo Chip TT, Mees racked up a crucial 45 points over two fruitful days at the 77th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
After scoring the 27th victory of his illustrious career, Mees said, “We actually made a small change for the Main Event even though we were already pretty fast. We were quick but we all put our heads together and decided that making that gamble was the best call — and it was.
“We had a solid bike and were able to get out front and run our own race. Last year, Bryan (Smith) and I battled here, and I know how you can get slowed up battling. So I let those guys do the battling behind me, and I just ran my own race.”
The Indian Wrecking Crew returned to its early-season field destroying form on Tuesday night. Teammates Bryan Smith and Brad Baker engaged in a wall- and elbow-grazing dogfight for second aboard their respective No. 1 and No. 6 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750s.
While it took him a few laps to find his groove following each of the Main’s twin starts, Smith ultimately got the better of Baker and successfully minimized the damage done by Mees in the points column.
Mees, Smith, and Baker combined to secure Indian Motorcycle’s fifth podium sweep of the season. Additionally, Baker’s third-place finish also elevated him to third in the title chase, positioning the manufacturer that much closer to a championship top-three lockout.
Smith’s runner-up finish was much needed as it marked his first podium in five outings. After the race, he said, “Unfortunately, Jared beat us, but it’s cool to see Indian sweep another podium.
“I thought I had something for Jared after the restart. But he could get going quick, and it took me about five laps to get going, and it was all she wrote after that. (Brad and I) were both on top of each other and on top of the wall. There wasn’t an inch between us quite a few times. My hats off to him for racing me clean. It was fun. I wish it would have been for the lead, but I’m sure Indian Motorcycle is happy with this result.”
Third-placed Baker said, “I feel pretty good. I felt like I matched Jared’s pace pretty good in the beginning, but he was just rolling really good here today… he’s been rolling good all year.
“I lost Jared before the restart. He was gone. But after the restart, I felt like I had a good line going into 3, but it opened up the door for Bryan to do a slide-job on me. And as soon as he did that, we went back to dicin’, and Jared pulled away again.”
Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Carver’s BBQ Kawasaki Ninja 650) continued to showcase his Half-Mile chops, notching up his fourth Half-Mile top-five of the season in Rapid City. He finished in fourth, just ahead of Sunday’s TT standouts Briar Bauman (No. 14 Zanotti Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650) and Henry Wiles (No. 17 DPC Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650).