MECHANICSBURG, Pa. – Jared Mees put on another masterclass performance Saturday to take the win and clinch the American Flat Track AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines championship two races early at the Harley-Davidson Williams Grove Half-Mile presented by Appalachian Harley-Davidson.
After nearly a quarter-century absence, it was a welcome return to Williams Grove Speedway as fans packed the house to witness the Pennsylvania native score his fourth overall premier class championship.
“Man, it’s an honor to be able to come to Williams Grove – I was born and raised 45 minutes from here – and to clinch this championship in front of all my friends and family,” Mees said. “We had a phenomenal year. I had a magnificent team behind me. I don’t know what else to say. I give all the credit to those guys — they work so hard week-in and week-out. The Indian was a phenomenal motorcycle for me from start to finish. It’s unbelievable.
“To win a championship in the fashion we did this year and – no offense, but to dominate it. To go out there and pull off nine wins and clinch the championship with two races to go, it was phenomenal. I never thought it would have happened, especially considering the talent of the other guys out there.”
It also meant a lot to Mees to be able to make history, by scoring the brand’s first Grand National Championship title.
“I wanted to be the guy on the Indian, the first to do it,” Mees said. “I wanted to be the guy to do everything on the Indian first. I wanted to dominate, and we did.”
Although it looked like it was going to be Mees’ day to shine after he won both his Heat, Semi and left everyone in his dust during the Main, multiple red flags threw some uncertainty into the mix. And even after his championship rival Bryan Smith crashed out of the race – pretty much sealing the deal on the championship with Mees only needing four points – Mees didn’t go easy. He held on to the win and crossed the line .232 of a second ahead of Brad Baker.
Baker, who has been eagerly searching for his first win of the year, took comfort in the fact that he has made progress on track conditions that don’t favor him and scored his 11th podium this season.
“It was a very demanding race today,” Baker said. “These types of tracks, you can’t make a mistake. It was really, really easy to make a mistake, just because of how slick it was and just one little line that we were all shooting for. I felt like I had something for Jared earlier on today, but it turned into a little notch groove, and those types of tracks aren’t my strong point by any means. I’ve been getting better at them, and it takes a lot of discipline and maturity from a rider to ride those types of tracks — like Jared with his experience. The guy is just on top of his game right now. I have no excuses. The guy is mentally focused, he’s fit, and he’s got a great team. He’s the guy we’re all gunning for. Hats off to Jared and his whole team for doing such a great job.”
Joining the Indian Wrecking Crew duo on the podium was Briar Bauman, who scored his fourth podium of the season.
Leading the way for the factory Harley squad was Jake Johnson, who finished a solid fourth at his home race. Completing the top five was Sammy Halbert.
Despite already being mathematically eliminated from title contention in the AFT Singles class, Kevin Stollings Jr. continued to stake his claim as the outright fastest rider in the AFT Singles class with a dominant victory.
Stollings’ second win of the season was an appropriate way to close out a day in which he entered the Main Event as Best Qualifier for a class-leading fifth occasion this season.
Stollings tussled early with title leader Kolby Carlile, who stormed to the holeshot and led the opening two laps. On lap 3, Stollings powered around the outside of Carlile and steadily built up a healthy advantage which he held to the checkered flag.
“I didn’t get the start I wanted to, and it seemed like Kolby was pulling away,” Stollings said. “I was kind of getting scared because I didn’t want him to get too far away. I kept my cool and ended up passing him on the outside on the third lap or so. From there, I just kept my line and stayed smooth.”
Despite finishing second, for Carlile, it was mission accomplished. His runner-up result increased his championship advantage to 12 points over rival Brandon Price with just two races remaining.