SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Jeffrey Carver Jr. came out on top of an epic AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines main event on Monday during the Harley-Davidson Springfield Mile I.
The race was held Monday after weather forced American Flat Track officials to postpone the event on Sunday.
In the early going, Carver was involved in an intense five-rider fight for the lead that included some of the sport’s top riders – Jared Mees, Kenny Coolbeth Jr. and Bryan Smith – as well as Davis Fisher.
Carver, seeking his first AFT Twins Mile victory, seemed to have history stacked against him. Mees had won the most recent running of the Springfield Mile last fall and had yet to be beaten in a straight fight all season long. As for Coolbeth and Smith, the two boasted a combined 13 Springfield Mile wins between them.
Rather than be intimidated, Carver just continued to throw down fast lap after fast lap. He gradually shook free from the pack and had a response ready each time one of his rivals took a run at him in hopes of cutting into his gap.
At one point, Fisher actually looked like the rider with the best hope of successfully doing so, narrowing the advantage to back under a half-second deep into the contest. However, Fisher ultimately found himself swallowed up by Mees and Coolbeth in the final push to the checkered flag.
Following 25 blistering miles, Carver claimed victory with .819 of a second gap ahead of Mees, who edged Coolbeth at the line by .058 of a second to finish as the runner-up. Davis came home another .205 of a second back in fourth while Smith cruised home to round out the top-five.
The triumph was Carver’s third AFT Twins win, leaving him just a Short Track victory short of a career grand slam. Additionally, he’s only the second rider from Illinois to win the Springfield Mile. The only other Illinois native to win the race was Dave Camlin from Rock Island, Ill., who won both races in 1996 aboard a Harley-Davidson.
“I just love it. Springfield is one of the places [I’ve always wanted to win],” a jubilant Carver said. “I watch old videos of Scotty Parker, Ricky Graham and Chris Carr out here, just trying to learn their moves. And chasing [Mees and Coolbeth] and watching them, it’s just been a big learning curve. My team is putting everything together, and it’s really starting to show. That’s giving me that extra bit of confidence I need.
“I love the challenge of just going in a circle. It’s simple, but it’s so perfect. You can focus so much on just that, and you can always continue to learn. I’m going to just try to keep winning races. If I put too much pressure on myself, sometimes I get a little nervous and mess up. We’re a little down on points, so my plan is to just go out and have fun and learn the motorcycle and try to go faster. These guys have won 30-some nationals for a reason. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’d love to get in the history book a little bit myself.”
In the debuting AFT Production Twins class, Michael Inderbitzin road his Kawasaki Ninja 650 to victory. Inderbitzin recovered from a terrible launch at the start of the race to charge his way through the entire field and into the lead.
Once there he successfully fought off a last-lap attempt by Tristan Avery by .178 of a second at the checkered flag. Jordan Harris finished third.
“[Following the start] I knew I had my work cut out for me… I need to work on my starts, and that’s about it,” said Inderbitzin. “I’ve never ridden the Springfield Mile, and I’ve never ridden a twin at all. Yesterday was my first time on one, and I couldn’t be more blessed having such a great, great motorcycle underneath me.”