PERRIS, Calif. – Brandon Robinson registered a flawless performance to reign supreme in Saturday’s Vance & Hines So-Cal Half-Mile presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys at the Southern California Fairgrounds.
Robinson controlled the once stopped and restarted main event from the front from the race’s opening lap. In doing so, he became the first AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines rider to claim more than one victory this year.
“They all feel amazing. It’s great to be up here,” Robinson said. “Any time you’re on the box is good, but winning… this is what it’s all about. This is what we put in all the hard work for. My team busted their butts. My team owner, Jerry Kennedy, gives us everything we need to win. My crew chief, Brent Armbruster — the guy is amazing. We make a lot of decisions together, but there are some times he bails me out and gets the bike right. Man, he hit the nail on the head again tonight. This one is for my team.”
While Robinson took the checkered flag with nearly two seconds to spare and relatively little drama following the restart, prior to the red flag a titanic showdown was taking shape.
At the time of the stoppage, Robinson found himself relentlessly hounded by an inspired Sammy Halbert, who teased the potential to overtake Robinson on either the inside or the outside. But a potentially historic victory (the factory Harley squad is looking for its first win since 2016 and the first for the XG750R) would have to wait at least another week, as the fallout of the red flag foiled Halbert’s hopes.
After a Henry Wiles spill reset the main event eight laps in, Robinson powered away at the restart while Halbert dropped several spots down the order.
Championship leader Briar Bauman was the primary beneficiary. He immediately slotted into second and held strong throughout to extend his perfect podium record on the season with a runner-up result.
Halbert battled his way forward and ultimately made his way back onto the box with a charge to third. His encouraging performance was amplified by that of his teammate, Jarod Vanderkooi, as the two combined to give the resurgent works Harley outfit a 3-4 result at Vance & Hines’ home race.
Defending double AFT Twins Champion Jared Mees finished fifth.
Ryan Wells, the 2016 Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys champion, backed up his first podium of the season at the Arizona Super TT with his first win of the year in a virtual wire-to-wire triumph at the So-Cal Half-Mile.
On a track that had proven difficult to overtake all night, the majority of the fireworks in the AFT Singles Main came early. Two-time ‘19 race winner Jesse Janisch grabbed the holeshot but was immediately overhauled around the outside by Morgen Mischler.
Wells squared them both up, however, and stole away the lead before the opening lap was out. The race was effectively decided at that point, as Wells never put a wheel wrong or provided a rival an opportunity to stick a wheel by him.
“TTs have never been my super strong suit so I knew getting a podium (at the Arizona Super TT), we had worked out the bugs that needed to be worked out,” Wells said. “The Yamaha was awesome. It was huge for me to come in here and get the win. To lead all 15 laps… it was a long race for me mentally. It felt awesome to lead some laps and come out with the win. I can’t say enough about the whole Estenson racing family. That pit over there is literally a family. The camaraderie is awesome and I couldn’t get a win for a better group.”
Michael Inderbitzin emerged from the pack and slotted into second in the early going. Inderbitzin kept Wells honest throughout on his way to his first AFT Singles podium.
Dalton Gauthier finished third to complete the podium.
Cory Texter picked right up where he left off at the Texas Half-Mile, going two-for-two in AFT Production Twins action by scooping up a second consecutive victory on Saturday night.
Texter jumped out into the lead from the start and never relinquished the lead in the 15-lap main.
Ryan Varnes planted himself on Texter’s outside hip over the opening handful of laps and for a time appeared capable of pushing Texter to the flag. However, matching Texter’s stone-cold consistency on the slick Half-Mile proved too much of an ask.
As a result, Texter cleared open some space at the front en route to a .959-second margin of victory, while Varnes found himself reeled back into a three-way battle for the runner-up spot with Kayl Kolkman and Michael Inderbitzin.
Despite the late pressure, Varnes managed to hold on for second, while Kolkman narrowly fended off Inderbitzin’s challenge for the last spot on the podium in the race’s final corner by a meager .072 of a second.
AFT Singles title leader Dalton Gauthier rounded out the top five.
“I just have a good bike and a good team behind me,” Texter said. “I’m having fun and enjoying myself this year, and that’s what’s important. This class is no joke; there are some great riders in it, and I knew this Main Event would be tough. I’m not typically fast on these slick racetracks, so we’re two-for-two on tracks I didn’t think we’d do well on. I’m pretty happy with that.”