LEXINGTON, Ky. – Jared Mees put an end to Bryan Smith’s American Flat Track AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines winning streak at the Red Mile on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 6,500.
As the evening’s program wore on, it become apparent that, for all of Bryan Smith’s Mile heroics in recent weeks, it was actually Mees and Sammy Halbert who were set on a collision course at the Red Mile.
Prior to the main event the two put together convincing heat race wins with blowouts in their respective Semis. Halbert topped his by almost five seconds, and Mees his by a massive 13 plus.
In the main event the two separated themselves from the pack almost immediately, even if they were rarely separated from each other by more than a tenth of a second for the next 25 miles.
An action-heavy opening half saw the leaders repeatedly trade passes. However, after Mees was satisfied with his end-game preparation, the position swapping for the lead halted entirely. Instead, the Indian-mounted ace tucked in close behind Halbert’s Yamaha and waited until the final lap to strike.
It was the practical application of a hard lesson in Mile strategy learned under the tutelage of Smith. in his three recent consecutive Mile victories, Smith sat back and waited before making his winning move on the final lap each time out. In the most recent two of those, Mees himself had been victimized on that pivotal final lap.
However, Mees’ strategy very nearly fell apart when Halbert anticipated his desired move entering turn three. A perfect launch off the tricky turn fourprovided Mees a second chance to make the pass stick, and he slipstreamed past by .013 of a second at the checkered flag to steal away the win.
It was the fourth Mile victory of Mees’ career, and his first in almost a year.
“I basically just sat behind Sammy. He was getting through (turns) one and two so much better than me,” Mees said. “I was thinking on the last lap if he got through there good enough I wasn’t going to be able to do anything with him. I tried drafting him around the outside, but I didn’t have enough on him. I just played my cards right. I’m surprised I got him at the line, but I got there.
“It feels so good to get one of these Mile wins. Bryan has been beating up so bad on us lately, so to get one of these Mile wins and move forward is awesome.”
Halbert knew full well what Mees had been planning and thought he had actually foiled his rival’s last-lap hopes with a well-timed counter.