LIMA, Ohio – American Flat Track Grand National champion Jared Mees has racked up 18 Main Event victories during his historic run the last two seasons.
Saturday’s win at the Indian Motorcycle Lima Half-Mile, however, may just be the sweetest of all.
Mees rode like he had a point to prove. Last year’s title triumph saw Mees finish on the podium in all but one AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines Main Event. That one was the Lima Half-Mile, a race he promoted himself.
Mees failed to even qualify for last year’s Lima Half-Mile Main due to penalties incurred for jumping the start of his semi multiple times.
Being forced to swallow that bitter pill in 2017, Mees took full advantage of his rare opportunity for redemption at the Allen County Fairgrounds on Saturday. He bolted free from the start aboard his No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing SDI Scout FTR750 and left the pack to sort out the remainder of the positions in his roost around the pea-gravel cushion Half-Mile.
Things became considerably more interesting once the only rider to have beaten Mees in a straight fight all year – Jeffrey Carver Jr. – took over second place and put Mees in his sights. Carver successfully whittled away at the lead, slashing it from around two seconds all the way down to less than eight tenths just past half-distance.
Mees was ready with a response to Carver’s charge, slicing through traffic just as Carver’s desperate bid for a come-from-behind win eventually took its toll on his endurance. Mees not only blunted Carver’s charge but regained his advantage to ultimately claim the checkered flag with a 2.738-second margin of victory.
“Winning the Lima Half-Mile… this is the baddest race to win,” said Mees. “This track is so demanding, and tonight it was really demanding. You just had no time to get off the throttle, and it got really physical with some ruts and bumps. I love winning at this racetrack – it’s awesome.”
Even though Carver was unable to track down and overhaul his rival, earlier in the program he managed to win the last George Roeder Dash-For-Cash. The prize money he was awarded following the four-lap sprint race waged by the top six AFT Twins qualifiers likely made his runner-up result a bit easier to accept.
Henry Wiles continued his strong and consistent campaign by finishing third. The result marked his fourth podium and eighth top five of a season.
In order to do so, Wiles was forced to chase down and overtake defending Lima Half-Mile winner Briar Bauman. Bauman held on to claim fourth while Brad Baker recovered from a rough start to take home a fifth-place result.
Fan favorite Shayna Texter made history on Saturday night at the Indian Motorcycle Lima Half-Mile by delivering Husqvarna’s first American Flat Track victory in the AFT Singles class.
Texter, who holds the all-time win record for the AFT Singles class, had been repeatedly knocking on the door of that achievement for weeks. Coming into Lima she had logged four podiums aboard her rapidly-developing Husqvarna FC 450, including a pair of runner-up finishes.
Those results lent the long-awaited maiden Husqvarna triumph a certain sense of inevitability, but when she finally did break through, she did so with panache. Texter pulled a disappearing act on the opening lap and piled it on from there in an AFT Singles Main Event that was never really in doubt.
“It’s so cool… It’s so awesome,” said Texter. “To get Husqvarna their first win in American Flat Track is a dream come true… Hats off to my entire team and everyone who has been behind me. It’s been a long year, and I’m so happy to finally get this one.
“It’s incredible to win Lima. Never in a million years would I imagine I’d win this race – it’s such a rough track. But I think spending a whole year with [boyfriend] Briar [Bauman] talking about Lima every single day since he won it last year, it kind of rubbed off on me. I tried to do what he did last year – hold it wide open and hope for the best.”
2016 AFT Singles Champ Ryan Wells finished second on Saturday night. Wells battled for the position with defending class champ Kolby Carlile before Carlile saw his race end early due to a mechanical.
Current AFT Singles points leader Dan Bromley earned the final spot on the podium following Carlile’s premature exit by slashing his way forward throughout the contest. Bromley was mired in tenth off the start but rebounded nicely to claim his eighth podium of 2018.
Reigning Flat Track Canada champion Brodie Buchan took fourth, followed by last year’s race runner-up Kevin Stollings in fifth.