Mees Outduels Bauman At Texas Half-Mile

Jared Mees rode to his first victory of the season Saturday at the Texas Half-Mile. (Scott Hunter/AFT Photo)

FORT WORTH, Texas – Reigning AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines champion Jared Mees notched his first victory of the season in Saturday’s Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda Texas Half-Mile presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys at Texas Motor Speedway.

From the start, Mees found himself embroiled in a one-on-one shootout with his fellow Indian Wrecking Crewman, Briar Bauman, who also just happened to be the AFT Twins championship leader and arguably the rider best positioned to steal Mees’ crown this season.

While Mees racked up a remarkable 20 total victories during his back-to-back title runs in ‘17 and ‘18, he came into the Texas Half-Mile in the midst of a seven-race winless streak. As hungry as he was to finally end that drought, Bauman certainly made him work for it.

The two immediately broke free from the pack and traded the lead back and forth multiple times with a series of slick overtakes in which they squared one another up exiting turn four. Mees finally broke Bauman’s challenge on lap 22 of 25. At that point, he eked out just enough of a gap to breathe a bit easier over the race’s final circulations, claiming the checkered flag with a 1.316-second margin of victory.

The win marks Mees’ 27th Half-Mile triumph, breaking a tie for second all-time with Will Davis.

When asked if he expects Saturday’s win to reopen the floodgates, a measured Mees said, “That would be the goal — that is the goal — and we’d love to do that, but this year is tougher. The guys are better, and they’ve got their machines figured out better. I’ve got to dig down deeper.

“Last year, I basically got a good start, went by Briar when he was on the Kawasaki, and took off. This time, I had to wear the boy out. He rode so good. He was better than me in Turns 3 and 4 early in the race. I saw what he was doing and moved down to his line, and that allowed me to maintain a little bit of a gap.”

Atlanta Short track winner Brandon Robinson rode a relatively lonely ride to round out the podium in third.

Behind him, Sammy Halbert guided the works H-D to fourth after he tracked down and dispatched a rejuvenated Larry Pegram, who scored a mightily impressive fifth-place finish at the age of 45.

After getting her 2019 championship campaign off to something of a quiet start, Shayna Texter reminded the world exactly why she’s the rider with the most wins in the history of the Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys class with an aggressive ride to victory at the Texas Half-Mile.

Texter powered her way from sixth to first in just five laps with multiple hard-charging overtakes. She then threatened to check out but was unable to shake free from a motivated Mikey Rush.

While Rush was actively searching for a way back past Texter, he saw a front wheel repeatedly attempting to do the same to him over the contest’s final few laps. That wheel belonged to 16-year-old phenom James Ott, who was making his professional debut.

Ott closed the opening lap of the main event mired outside the top-10, yet somehow managed to slice past several of the nation’s most talented dirt track racers and put himself in position to make a last-gasp bid for a maiden victory.

Ott made one final lunge to overtake Rush as Rush did the same to Texter on the race’s final corner. In the end, their positions remained unchanged at the checkered flag. Texter won by a scant .129 of a second over Rush, with Ott another .125 of a second back in third.

“It’s awesome to get the first win behind us,” said Texter. “To give Red Bull KTM its first win in American Flat Track is awesome. Hats off to my partners… To be able to win in Roof Systems’ backyard is incredible.”

Last year’s Texas Half-Mile winner, Morgen Mischler, finished fourth, followed by championship leader Dalton Gauthier.

It was a family affair at the Texas Half-Mile as Shayna Texter’s brother, Cory Texter, was victorious in the opening race of the 11-race AFT Production Twins championship.

Texter tracked down a quick-starting Gauthier early in the 15-lap main event and proceeded to pull clear from there.

Texter ultimately won the race by 1.850 seconds.

“This is awesome… I just want to keep it going,” said Texter. “A lot of guys wrote me off coming into this race. They didn’t expect me to do much because I’ve had a tough year, and last year I struggled a little bit. But I’m not washed up yet, and I’ve still got more in the tank. We’re going to battle all year long and see what we can do.”

Ryan Varnes fended off 2017 AFT Singles champ Kolby Carlile in a hard-fought scrap for second, while Gaulthier held on for fourth.