FORT WORTH, Texas — Defending Grand National champion Jared Mees earned some much-needed redemption while AFT Singles rising star Morgen Mischler earned his first professional win in a drama-filled night of American Flat Track racing at Texas Motor Speedway for the Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys Texas Half Mile presented by Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda.
The race came one day after the announcement that Mees had been disqualified and stripped of his win at the previous round in Atlanta for using a chemically altered tire.
But the twists only stacked up from there. The entire evening program was loaded with thrills and spills, the implication of which are almost certain to be felt throughout the remainder of the 2018 title fight. Big name after big name was eliminated from competition even prior to the Main, including Mees’ fellow Indian Wrecking Crew members Brad Baker and Bryan Smith.
Baker went down hard in his Heat and could not continue, and then Smith lost the front in Semi 1, initiating a spectacular, multi-rider incident that also collected Jake Johnson and Stevie Bonsey, who was launched several feet into the air in terrifying fashion.
Adding more drama, Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. – the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines points leader coming into the weekend – simply failed to make the Main, finishing outside the top nine in Semi 2.
Meanwhile, Mees hardly put a wheel wrong aboard his Indian Scout FTR750 all night long. He was momentarily squeezed out at the start of the Main, briefly dropping to third, but he systematically worked his way past Chad Cose and early leader Briar Bauman to grab the lead. Once established in front, Mees was in complete control of the contest to the checkered flag.
The triumph was a double dose of redemption for the defending champ; Mees finished second in Texas last year – the only time in the most recent seven Half-Miles in which he failed to stand atop the podium.
“First off, thoughts and prayers to all the downed riders,” Mees said. “I don’t know the condition of any of them, but we had a lot of downed riders tonight and nobody wants to see that. [All riders were reported to be awake and alert afterward.] On my end, we just came out and were really focused on getting this win, and we made it happen. We were fast right out of the gate. Huge hats off to my entire team for just sticking behind me and making it happen for me week-in and week-out. The Indian motorcycle is a phenomenal bike for me.”
Zanotti Racing ace Bauman came home second while Cose held onto third aboard his Indian Motorcycle of Oklahoma City Scout FTR750 to earn his first-ever AFT Twins podium.
Earlier in AFT Singles action, Mischler narrowly fended off a hard-charging Shayna Texter to secure his first professional victory by a scant 0.094 seconds. At the start, Texter slashed her way forward aboard her Husqvarna FC 450, picking off several rivals on a track where most struggled to overtake. However, she could not quite find a way past race-leader Mischler once she arrived on his rear wheel, no matter how desperately she tried.
Mischler rebuked numerous attempts by Texter, including – and most crucially – coming off the race’s final corner with his sideways Cycle Craft Yamaha YZ450F bucking and protesting all the way to the checkered flag. Texter was right there, close enough to take advantage, but Mischler’s swerving Yamaha blocked her from making the pass.
Mischler’s victory put to rest any lingering doubt he may have had regarding his skills to compete with, and beat, the best the AFT undercard has to offer. He said, “It’s one of those things – when you move up to the pro ranks, you ask yourself if you belong. On that last lap… it stepped out pretty good, but I just pinned it.”