DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 20, 2017)
– American Flat Track returns to action this weekend for the Lone Star Half-Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle. The penultimate round of the championship marks the first time the series has visited the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1999, and it will do so in style at an all-new venue – Texas Motor Speedway.
Looking to continue his dominance on the clay Half-Miles is the newly crowned AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines Champion, Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing Scout FTR750). Although with the title in hand there’s no more pressure, that doesn’t mean Mees is ready to rest on laurels. A 10th win of the year would add to his standout season where he not only scored a Grand Slam, but only finished off the box once. And after sealing the deal at home in Pennsylvania with a win, it would also be icing on the cake to give his tuner Kenny Tolbert a win in front his home crowd.
“I’m looking forward to racing at Texas Motor Speedway,” Mees said. “This is Kenny Tolbert’s home town basically, and a lot of his friends and family will be there. Anything besides a win will be disappointing at this point, but most of all it’s about continuing to have fun. There’s no pressure now, just flat gas it up.”
But now that Mees has the number one plate back, a target has also landed firmly on his back. And no one is gunning for him more than the guy Mees took that number one plate from — Bryan Smith (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750).
The 2016 Grand National Champion was on a hot streak earlier this season with four-straight wins but has been absent from the top step of the podium since May. Now that the title chase is over, it’s all about wins and Smith is eager to end his win drought in Texas.
“I’ve won four races this year, but it feels like it’s been years since I’ve won a race,” Smith said. “Since the championship isn’t on the line, it’s time to have fun and let it all hang out.”
Smith isn’t the only rider looking to get back to winning. Brad Baker (No. 6 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) has been champing at the bit for his first win of 2017. The youngest member of the Indian Wrecking Crew has been close on more than one occasion but has been schooled by the veterans on the same machinery. Well, while school was in session Baker was paying attention, and “The Bullet” is ready for his turn to be top of the class.
Baker’s fellow Washington native, Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Estenson Logistics Yamaha FZ-07), has also come close to the winning this season. Halbert not only wants to win, he would love to make history as Yamaha’s first Half-Mile win on a twin-cylinder motorcycle since Kenny Roberts in 1976 at Terre Haute.
However, perhaps no one is more eager for a win than the Harley-Davidson factory trio of Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. (No. 2 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R), Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R) and Jake Johnson (No. 5 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R).
The team has been steadily making strides forward in their development of the XG750R. They had a good outing at the previous round at Williams Grove Speedway with all three finishing inside of the top 10 and Johnson just off the podium in fourth. They are also quite at home on clay Half-Miles and will be aiming to be the first rider to take the checkered flag on the XG750R.
Joining the mix at Texas Motor Speedway is Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Team Nila Indian Scout FTR750), making him the first privateer to race an Indian Motorcycle Scout FTR750 in American Flat Track. The motorcycle is owned by John Wise from Elkhart Indian in Elkhart, Ind. and will be tuned by legendary tuner David Atherton.
“I got the call Saturday night from David Atherton when I was in New Brunswick, Canada hosting a 10 Training program, and without hesitation I said yes,” Lewis said. “I think it’s a neat opportunity to ride John Wise’s brand new, off-the-showroom-floor FTR750 at the Lone Star State Half-Mile this weekend. I think everyone in the paddock, in the stands, and watching on NBC Sports all season are interested in seeing what a dealership bought FTR750 can do on track since we have seen what the Factory FTR750 can do.”
While the Twins championship was won and done, the AFT Singles championship fight is still rolling. Leading the title chase is Kolby Carlile (No. 36 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F). The “Rising Star” from New York has a 12-point lead on Brandon Price (No. 92 Brandon Price Racing backed by Parkinson Brother’s Racing/DPC Racing/Don’s Kawasaki Honda CRF450R).
Despite Carlile’s lead in the points Price has something Carlile doesn’t have: A pair of wins. With two races remaining in the championship, Carlile is not necessarily in a must-win scenario, but he certainly wants one.
After leading the championship for most of the season, the rider that is definitely in a must-win scenario is Shayna Texter (No. 52 Richie Morris Racing Honda CRF450R). A flat tire in the Semi at her home race in Williams Grove put her 29-points adrift. To keep her championship hopes alive, she needs wins and luck to swing back her way.
To celebrate the series’ return to Texas, Tucker Rocky is hosting a pre-race party at their headquarters in Fort Worth on Thursday, September 21. Tucker Rocky athletes Mees and the Richie Morris Racing duo of Shayna Texter and Jarod Vanderkooi will be joining the festivities. There will also be food, a vintage bike display and various raffles with all proceeds going to the Class of ’79. Doors will open at 6:00 p.m. CT at 4900 Alliance Gateway Freeway, Fort Worth, Texas 76177.
Saturday will be a Lone Star-studded event with TV personality and motorcycle enthusiast Aaron Kaufman serving as the Grand Marshal. Gates open for fans at 2:00 p.m. CT when bikes hit the track for practice and qualifying. Meet your favorite riders during the rider autograph session in the pits from 4:30-5:30 p.m. CT. Opening Ceremonies kicks off the evening program at 6:00 p.m. CT and will include a special treat — the Terry Poovey Privateer Shootout. The sprint race will be a mad dash for cash featuring the top six AFT Singles riders from timed qualifying.
Tickets for the Lone Star Half-Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle are on sale now