AUSTIN, Texas — Jared Mees (No. 1 Harley-Davidson 750) earned a tough victory at the inaugural Harley-Davidson Lone Star Half-Mile at Circuit of The Americas Saturday night.
Mees faced disappointment in last year’s Summer X Games in Austin but won the 25-lap Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines class race over No. 27 Robert Pearson (Harley-Davidson 750).
Mees charged the pack after Brad Baker (No. 6 Harley-Davidson 750) was forced to leave the track due to technical difficulties on lap seven and was challenged again when a red flag with five laps to go turned round three of the AMA Pro Flat Track season into a five-lap shootout. No. 69 Sammy Halbert (Harley-Davidson 750) was third.
“You go into every race just wanting to win, but this place owed me big time,” Mees said.
Mees locked in his main event placement with a third-place finish in the second heat race and kept the momentum going into the main. He took the lead on lap eight and never relented, which earned him the McElroy Packaging Lucky 13 Award in front of a packed house of both American and International spectators. The Michigan native took home the Öhlins Fastest Lap Award, as well and was pleased with the victory.
“I don’t know if I had anything for Brad,” Mees said. “I’d just settled into my groove and I don’t know if I could have run him down. At the red flag, I thought, ‘Don’t do this to me, you owe me.’ It was really good to win. I needed this for the confidence after I had a so-so Daytona. The credit goes to the team. We relate very, very well. They never let me down.”
Pearson fought with Halbert for position and placed second, making it his best finish in his career and first podium.
“We had a good shot at winning,” Pearson said. “The bike worked well all day so to get second and improve on my best finish is awesome.”
After winning round one at the Daytona Flat Track and having a podium finish in round two, Halbert has added another stage-finish here at COTA.
“I did not get a very good start and was back in the pack,” Halbert said. “It was hairy back there especially with the hole in turn three and guys going everywhere. I had some big moments but I found my line. I was charging in turns one and two and made up some spots. On the restart, I got up to second briefly but “Bugs” made a good move and I had to go inside on the berm in turn three. I was happy to get on the box and keep my podium streak alive.”
Baker led the early laps until a machine problem took him out of contention.
“It’s tough to fall out of a race but when you’re leading it at the same time,” Baker said. “It’s racing and things happen but that doesn’t make it less upsetting. We’ll come back stronger next time and move on.”
No. 80 Stevie Bonsey finished fourth, while Daytona Flat Track round two winner, No. 5 Jake Johnson was next. No. 66 Dominic Colindres led last year’s X Games winner No. 42 Bryan Smith and No. 73 Doug Lawrence.
In the GNC2 16-lap main event, No. 14A Andrew Luker (Honda CRF450R) collected the victory in a true bar-to-bar, single-cylinder match over the “flying tomato” No. 36B Kolby Carlile (Honda CRF450R). No. 99J Kevin Stollings (Honda CRF450R) secured his first-ever podium with a third-place finish.
“It was pretty awesome to come to Austin and get a win,” Luker said. “I haven’t been on the podium in a while. Being smooth and dodging the holes (was the key). Going into three and four was pretty crazy. It’s the first time I have ridden this bike and I’d say it works pretty good.”
Luker has now added two wins under his belt.
Veteran Joe Kopp won the Roland Sands Design Super Hooligans class, using a wide line to take the victory over Roland Sands. Kopp took the lead with two laps to go in a race that was stopped twice. Shawn Guarded earned third place.
“I was a sandbagger tonight,” Kopp said. “But I think it was an awesome thing to race in this class.”