MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – They say that when it rains it pours. For Jared Mees the wins just keep pouring in.
The latest in a now-formidable collection of victories this season – nine of eleven so far in American Flat Track competition – came Sunday in Harley-Davidson Flat Track Racing at X Games Minneapolis.
Mees, on the No. 9 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing SDI Scout FTR750, was nearly perfect on the short track built inside US Bank Stadium, winning his Heat, Semi and Main in dominating fashion. He got good starts, grabbed his leads early and rode fast and mistake-free to secure his second X Games gold medal – his first coming in 2016.
For a while it looked as though Jeffrey Carver Jr. might steal Mees’ thunder in the Main, which featured just six riders – Mees, Carver, Sammy Halbert, Jake Johnson, Briar Bauman and Kenny Coolbeth Jr. Indian Motorcycle factory rider Brad Baker was involved in a crash during Sunday’s practice session and was unable to participate in the event. He is currently being evaluated by medical personnel.
Carver took the holeshot at the start and looked to have the speed to stay ahead of Mees on the egg-shaped, eighth-mile indoor track. Carver ran wide when Mees pressured him up the inside on lap five, and as he looked over his shoulder and tried to regain the line, Mees, Bauman and Halbert passed him – and Carver found himself fourth, and floundering.
From then on it was another stellar Jared Mees performance – leading the remainder of the 15-lap Main solidly while keeping an eye on Bauman behind him in second place. Bauman, who recovered quickly from a last-place start, put in a mid-race challenge, sticking right on Mees’ rear Dunlop and looking like he might pressure the reigning AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines champion – and close friend – into a mistake. But it wasn’t to be. Mees rode without error and slowly pulled away to a comfortable margin at the end.
“This is such a unique race, and it’s such an honor to be invited back,” Mees said after the win. “The Indian Scout FTR has been running great all year for me; it just feels good… it’s awesome to get a gold medal. This little indoor short track…this is what I grew up on. I mean, this should be my specialty. We were good all day, I was able to bump Jeffrey out of the way clean and get going. It was great. It’s an honor to be here and I’m looking forward to coming back.”
Factory Harley-Davidson pilot Sammy Halbert ran strong behind Bauman on the Vance & Hines XR750, and made a dramatic, last-lap/last-corner attempt to steal the runner-up spot with a typically aggressive move. Bauman didn’t give Halbert much room, and the Washington native lost the front in the loose dirt and went down, letting Johnson by for third, followed by Carver. and Coolbeth. Halbert came home sixth.
A revitalized and Indian-mounted Bauman finished second, 1.3 seconds behind Mees, and seemed comfortable on both the bike and the slick, tricky circuit.