SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Defending AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines champion Jared Mees made it three for three on the Miles in American Flat Track competition this year with a last-corner victory in Saturday’s Springfield Mile I.
Mees and 2018 Springfield Mile I winner Jeffrey Carver Jr. transformed the race into a two-rider duel for the win from the start. The pair immediately broke free from the pack, and subsequently waged a 25-mile test of skill and tactics.
Carver seemed content to plant himself on the rear wheel of Mees over the opening half of the AFT Twins Main Event. However, the home-state hero brought the fans lining the grandstands to their feet by driving underneath the defending champ on lap 13.
Mees regrouped and reassumed his position at the front in short order. Carver made two more attempts to wrestle away the lead, and it appeared he finally succeeded for good when he powered by with three laps remaining. However, Mees ducked under Carver entering turn three on the final lap, only to see Carver slide back up the inside as the worked through turn four.
Mees was ready for the move, and perfectly positioned himself for the decisive sprint to the flag; he stole the advantage back on exit and held it to the flag by .239 seconds.
“I knew going out there if I got the holeshot, I wanted to press the pace right away and create some separation,” Mees said. “I think Jeffrey knew exactly what I was doing because he was just pacing me. I looked back a couple times, and right there was the 23 (Carver).
“He was basically just riding my tail and at one point I rolled out of it and let him go by. I wanted to know where he was stronger, and he had a really good line in three and four. I saw that he tried it a couple times, and he did the exact same thing in the heat. On the last lap, when I felt him dive-bomb the bottom, I had a good counter for his move. I think he blew the corner a little bit coming off of it, and that allowed me to have a big gap out of turn four.”
While Mees made up some ground in the title fight as a result of claiming his fifth win this year, it probably wasn’t by quite as much as he may have anticipated when he took the checkered flag.
Championship leader Briar Bauman was forced to use a provisional start to advance into the Main Event after suffering a mechanical issue in his Semi.
Despite starting from dead last, Bauman somehow carved his way into seventh by the conclusion of lap one and established himself as one of five riders embroiled in a race-long battle for the final spot on the podium. Indeed, Bauman ultimately won that battle, finishing in third, 0.122 seconds ahead of brother and teammate Bronson Bauman.
Bauman now holds a 30-point advantage over Mees (260-230) with four races remaining.
Bryan Smith finished fifth, another 0.016 seconds in arrears, with Stephen Vanderkuur and Brandon Robinson fractionally behind in sixth and seventh, respectively.
Fresh off his clutch victory in Friday night’s Springfield Short Track, Dalton Gauthier steamrolled the competition in Saturday’s AFT Production Twins Main Event at the Springfield Mile I.
Gauthier’s arcing high lines may have allowed his rivals to keep him relatively contained during the opening stages of the 15-lap Main Event, but once he finally stretched open enough of an advantage to prevent his opponents from blocking his preferred path, those same lines made him simply unstoppable.
The triumph was not just his second of the weekend, it was also his second in succession in the AFT Production Twins class; he delivered the XG750R a second win in the first possible opportunity after scoring its historic maiden win last time out in the Sacramento Mile.
“I have to thank Jarod Vanderkooi for telling me to go there (to the high line) after the Semi, so shout out to him,” Gauthier said. “After the second or third lap I went up there and I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s hooking up. So I stayed up there and tried to ride consistent laps and break away and that’s what happened.
“I have to thank everybody at Harley-Davidson, Black Hills Harley-Davidson, Vance & Hines and everyone else who has gotten this bike working this great. It’s been awesome, and I’m having a lot of fun.”
Kolby Carlile and Chad Cose emerged from a multi-rider pack to battle for second place. The two actually managed to cut into Gauthier’s lead while waging their duel, which came down to the race’s final corner. Carlile sailed past Cose to open the last lap, but Cose switched-up his opponent driving through turns three and four.
However, the Estenson pilot managed a counter of his own while they streaked down the start/finish straight, nipping Cose by 0.101 seconds at the flag to finish as the race’s runner-up.
Second-ranked Ryan Varnes continued his consistent AFT Production Twins title campaign with his fifth top-five result of the year by taking fourth. Kevin Stollings was 0.002 seconds back of Varnes to round out the top five.
Championship leader Cory Texter took the checkered flag in ninth. As a result, he now leads Varnes by 22 points (133-111) with Carlile (100) and Gauthier (96) looking increasingly threatening in third and fourth, respectively.