DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It required two event postponements and an additional day’s delay on top of that, but American Flat Track finally got in its first mile of the season with Sunday’s Indian Motorcycle of Lexington Red Mile.
It was worth the wait.
Defending AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines Champion Jared Mees remained the only rider to ever win an AFT Twins Main Event at the Red Mile after narrowly overcoming the relentless challenge of Briar Bauman.
Mees threatened to turn this year’s edition into a walkaway early, but Bauman dug deep and tracked the reigning champ down. He closed onto Mees’ rear wheel with ten laps remaining in the once-stopped 25-lap main, at which point the two promptly went to work.
Bauman leveraged his incredible confidence with the high line to drive around the outside of Mees on multiple occasions, but Mees was always quick to respond with an inside dive or superior drive of his own.
Bauman attempted to draft by at the checkered flag, but couldn’t quite match Mees’ launch, allowing the reigning series king to grab the checkered flag by a .056-second margin.
Mees has now won eight of the last 12 Miles dating back to 2017’s Red Mile.
“I started to get a little worried about tires,” Mees said. “When we had that red flag, it looked like we were buzzing the tires down pretty good, so I wanted to slow the pace down a little bit and try to ease it off in the corners and keep it inline. I knew if I did that (Briar) was going to catch me. But the Indian Motorcycle has worked so good all day… it’s been so good here the last three years.”
While he couldn’t defeat his rival on this day, Bauman did extend his perfect run of podium results for the year.
“I can’t even put this into words,” said Bauman. “We’re leading the championship, but at the same time, I’m probably more excited than Jared is right now. This is actually my first Mile podium, and I was able to reel him in and make a race of it for the fans who stuck out the weather. I’m really excited.”
Bryan Smith almost turned it into a three-way scrap on the final lap. Smith proved the time away spent working on his ‘19 package was time well invested as he finished third, just more than a second off the victory.
Another 0.186 seconds back was the most impressive Stephen Vanderkuur. Vanderkuur, who only had two prior premier class main event starts to his name and a best finish of 15th, tagged along with Smith and put himself in podium contention at the end. He ultimately finished fourth and proved himself capable of running with the best of the best.
Henry Wiles completed the top five.
Mikey Rush scored his first victory since joining the Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys class following a showdown with the category’s established mile expert, Shayna Texter.
“I feel great,” Rush said. “I was really, really hungry for this win; I was getting tired of second. My team worked their tails off for me. It’s a great group of people and we’re having a great time doing this. And when you’re having a great time, you’re going to win races.”
Cory Texter continued his unbeaten start to the AFT Production Twins championship with his third victory in as many tries this season.
“It feels great,” Texter said. “I’m glad the fans stuck it out and came back out today. We really appreciate their support. It turned out to be a good race. Earlier on today I was struggling so bad, and we went back to a setup I was familiar with. I just tried to trust my instincts more and not overthink things.”