DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 27, 2017)
– After a couple weekends off, American Flat Track racers are eager to get back to battle for top honors at the Harley-Davidson Calistoga Half-Mile on Saturday, July 29.
The battle for the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines title is still a tight race between rivals Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing Scout FTR750) and Bryan Smith (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750). Mees currently has the upper hand with an eight-point advantage over the defending Grand National champ. But for Smith, it’s more than just the current title bout, there’s some unfinished business to be dealt with at Calistoga.
At the series’ last outing at Calistoga Speedway in 2014, Smith was in the hot seat for the championship, but fell victim to a bizarre turn of luck: a broken site glass left him spewing black smoke, black flagged and his would-be second-place finish null and void. Seeing that championship slip out of his fingers at the penultimate round is still something that does not sit well with Smith. So a win at this year’s Calistoga Half-Mile is important; both for this year’s title chase and a bit of redemption for 2014.
“I beat Mees on the track last time we raced in Calistoga. I need to do the same this year,” Smith said. “It’s the same story really. Since obviously we have gapped the rest of the field in the points; It’s almost a one-on-one race at this point.”
With three Grand National titles to his credit, Mees is no stranger to these close battles for the crown. He knows that there’s plenty of season left and is also in that one-race-at-a-time mode. Looking at it one race at a time, he likes his odds on a clay Half-Mile.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to do what we’ve been doing,” Mees said about having three wins in four outings. “That track (Calistoga) is going to resemble Rolling Wheels, and at Rolling Wheels we were on it, so I’m looking forward to it.”
But while Mees and Smith are focused on their title chase, Smith’s teammate Brad Baker (No. 6 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) has nothing to lose, he’s going for wins. “The Bullet” wants that first win of 2017 so bad he can taste it and repeating his big win in 2014 would be pretty sweet.
Fourth in the points and fresh off of his dominant win at the X Games Harley-Davidson Flat Track race, Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Estenson Logistics Yamaha FZ-07) has his swagger back and is also looking for his first American Flat Track win of 2017.
Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Carver’s BBQ Kawasaki Ninja 650) is also on the verge of his first win of 2017, which would also be his first career Grand National Championship win. The privateer has impressed many this season and keeps getting better. Carver is a dark horse in the championship, laying in wait to upset the factory squads.
A rider who already has experience in slaying the factory giants, Briar Bauman (No. 14 Zanotti Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650) would love nothing more than to add another AFT Twins win to his resume on his home turf in California.
Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R) had a top-five finish at the previous round at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park and looks to build on that with a podium finish. The Pennsylvania native is quite at home on the clay, as are his teammates Kenny Coolbeth (No. 2 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R) and Jake Johnson (No. 5 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R).
After dominating on the clay at the previous round – the Rolling Wheels Half-Mile – Shayna Texter (No. 52 Richie Morris Racing Honda CRF450R) looks to repeat that success and add to her points lead in Calistoga.
Since Rolling Wheels, there has been a big shake-up in the championship with some mid-season shifting in top AFT Singles teams. Kolby Carlile signed on with Estenson Racing to make charge for the 2017 AFT Singles title and try to close the 32-point gap aboard the No. 36 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F.
Trailing Carlile by four points, Brandon Price also got a new backer. The 17-year-old from Maryland picked up some extra support for his AFT Singles program – Parkinson Brothers Racing, a team that has dominated the support class over the past three years with three consecutive titles. The extra support could be the extra push Price needs to get the No. 92 Brandon Price Racing backed by Parkinson Brothers Racing/Don’s Kawasaki/DPC Racing Honda CRF450R back on top of the box.
In addition to on track action, the Motorsports Midway features displays from Harley-Davidson, Indian Motorcycle, event souvenir vendors and a host of quality food & beverage concessionaries, including 805 Firestone Walker Brewing.
Gates open for fans at 2:00 p.m. when on-track action begins with the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines and AFT Singles practice sessions. Opening Ceremonies kick off at 6:00 p.m., with racing action beginning with the Heat races at 6:30 p.m., AFT Singles Main at 8:40 p.m. and AFT Twins Main at 9:10 p.m.
Tickets for the Harley-Davidson Half-Mile are now on sale and can be purchased at http://calistogahalfmile.com/.