CALISTOGA, Calif. — The three-week summer break between American Flat Track rounds did nothing to cool off the red-hot Jared Mees as the 2017 AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines title fight picked back up at the Harley-Davidson Calistoga Half-Mile presented by Cycle Gear.
Seemingly out of sorts during qualifying and even into his Heat race, Mees proved to be an unstoppable juggernaut around Calistoga Speedway aboard his No. 9 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing Scout FTR750 by the time the main event arrived.
The title leader was consistently four- to five-tenths superior each lap compared to his nearest pursuer. As a result, he worked up 3.254 seconds worth of padding by lap nine of a scheduled 25 when the race was temporarily halted due to a red flag.
Rather than be discouraged after seeing that huge lead erased in an instant, Mees simply went back to work. He proceeded to rip open an even larger 3.476-second margin during the first nine laps that followed the restart, and the title leader’s drama-free march at the front saw him as much as 4.548 seconds out in front as the race neared its conclusion.
Mees ultimately cruised to a 3.571-second margin of victory, sailing by the checkered flag in a one-handed wheelie.
The three-time Grand National Champion now boasts an 18-point championship advantage and has clearly turned the tide of momentum in his favor with four wins in his last five outings.
“It was a great night,” Mees said. “It was a little hectic in the last qualifier, and in the Heat race I was off the pace. We came back and rethought things. I have such a good team and they work so hard. We gel really well together and when we’re down, we have a lot of tools in the toolbox with this Indian Scout FTR750 to make changes.”
Second place went to Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Estenson Logistics Yamaha FZ-07) in convincing fashion, coming on the heels of his vastly impressive X Games gold medal performance a couple weeks back.
“We had a great bike right from the get-go,” Halbert said. “We were really fast in qualifying, but the track was changing a lot, going from really hooked up to a bit slick. It’s a little more challenging for me on this bike when it’s slick. But we still made huge gains today, and my boys had it working good for the Main Event where I was able to run a solid second.
“It was a little nerve-racking because I had to hit my marks perfectly every time. And obviously, I couldn’t hang with Jared. His bike was so on point he could put it wherever he wanted.”
The most spirited battle in the top 10 was waged by teammates to decide the final spot on the podium. In the end, Brad Baker (No. 6 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) kept Bryan Smith (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) at bay by a meager 0.067 of a second to finish in third.
Lima Half-Mile winner Briar Bauman (No. 14 Zanotti Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650) rounded out the top five.