DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 7, 2017)
– Just two days removed from the wild race environment provided by a memorable Buffalo Chip TT, the 77th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally will again serve as a pitch-perfect backdrop for American Flat Track as the series takes on the Harley-Davidson Black Hills Half-Mile in Rapid City, S.D., on Tuesday, August 8.
Of course, no team figures to have a larger fan base among the hundreds of thousands of rally attendees than Harley-Davidson. The decorated trio of Kenny Coolbeth (No. 2 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R), Jake Johnson (No. 5 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R), and Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R) just might give them something to shout about as the three have largely been at their best this season at the Half-Miles. Together they own 29 career victories on the Half-Miles, led by Coolbeth’s fourth-best all-time mark of 23 wins.
Johnson also comes riding into Harley’s turf with extra confidence after scoring his first AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines championship podium of the year on Indian Motorcycle turf – the Buffalo Chip TT.
“This is definitely a big confidence booster, “ Johnson said about his podium finish Sunday night. “I’m looking forward to Tuesday’s Harley-Davidson Black Hills Half-Mile. I think having some extra confidence going into there is going to help a lot.”
Of course, there’s no looking past the Indian Wrecking Crew, particularly considering that championship leader Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing Scout FTR750) and second-ranked Bryan Smith (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) have split the last two victories at Black Hills Speedway.
The title rivals expect to fight for top honors again this season. Mees comes into the Black Hills Half-Mile with two of the season’s four wins at the Half-Miles, including the last two in succession. A win in South Dakota on Tuesday night would see Mees move ahead of Steve Morehead to claim sole possession of sixth-place in all-time AFT Twins Half-Mile victories at 20.
While Mees is well known for being the “Half-Mile” guy, Smith is no slouch on them either. The defending champ regained some momentum with a big win at the Black Hills Half-Mile last year and is looking for a repeat in 2017.
“Sunday night was rough with my crash at the TT,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to returning to the Black Hills Half-Mile and bouncing back with a win.”
Other riders to watch include Brad Baker (No. 6 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750), Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Estenson Logistics Yamaha FZ-07) and Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Carver’s BBQ Kawasaki Ninja 650), who have all podiumed at Half-Miles already this season — not to mention Lima Half-Mile victor and Sunday night’s Buffalo Chip TT winner Briar Bauman (No. 14 Zanotti Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650).
AFT Singles championship leader Shayna Texter (No. 52 Richie Morris Racing Honda CRF450R) returns to her comfort zone with the Black Hills Half-Mile after her TT woes continued at the Buffalo Chip. Texter ranks as the winningest Half-Mile rider in AFT Singles history with 10 such victories on her record, including her walkaway win at the Rolling Wheels Half-Mile earlier this year.
However, despite her past success, a serious challenge could be provided by any number of riders. Already this season, Brandon Price on the No. 92 Brandon Price Racing backed by Parkinson Brother’s Racing/DPC Racing/Don’s Kawasaki Honda CRF450R, Parker Norris (No. 24 Goodroe Racing Honda CRF450R), and Tanner Dean (No. 138 Walrath Racing Honda CRF450R) have racked up Half-Mile wins.
Additionally, Kolby Carlile (No. 36 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), Kevin Stollings (No. 99 Ben Evans Honda CRF450R), Ben Lowe (No. 20 Bruce Lowe Excavating Honda CRF450R) and Wyatt Anderson (No. 120 Waters Autobody Racing KTM 450 SX-F) have all finished on the podium at Half-Miles while flashing the speed to win one before the year is out.
American Flat Track racing action during the 77th Annual Sturgis Rally continues Tuesday night at Black Hills Speedway with fun for the whole family. Kids 12 and under are free in General Admission areas and there will be a Strider give away for American Flat Track’s youngest fans