|CALISTOGA, Calif. (May 5, 2018) – When it comes to American Flat Track legend-in-the-making Jared Mees and Half-Miles, there are no half measures. The defending AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines champ came out on top of a thrilling Calistoga Half-Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle Saturday night following a nail-biting last-lap duel with Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Roof-Systems/Indian of Metro Milwaukee Scout FTR750) to claim his third victory of 2018.
The victory was also Mees’ seventh in the most recent eight Half-Miles dating back to the 2017 season. The only rider to defeat Mees during that remarkable stretch was Carver, who very nearly pulled off the feat again tonight.
Mees took control of the race on lap 2, diving up the inside of Carver entering Turn 1 and threatened to break the race wide open from there. He eked out a tenth here and a tenth there, gradually assembling a one second advantage over Carver (and significantly more over the remainder of the field).
However, Carver expertly exploited the high line in the later stages of the race, tracking Mees back down and putting in a serious bid for the win. Carver powered up alongside Mees on more than one corner exit – including the final one – but Mees held strong to take the checkered flag by a narrow 0.114-second margin of victory.
Mees now boasts 33 career premier-class victories, tying him with Kenny Roberts for seventh on the all-time wins list. It was also his 24th career Half-Mile win, just one short of equaling another legend – Chris Carr – for third all-time in that discipline.
Mees said, “We didn’t have it dialed in during the Semi and came back and debriefed and made a few small changes. Hats off to my entire team. We work together on these wins, there’s no doubt. Sometimes when I’m weak, they’re strong. And sometimes when they’re weak, I’m strong.
“I looked back a couple times and I had a little bit of a gap, and then Jeffrey was right on me. We got into those lappers, and I just started thinking too much and he started charging hard. It was close at the end there, but we were able to pull through.”
Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. (No. 2 Nila Racing, Columbia Avionics Indian Scout FTR750) completed the Indian podium sweep in third, but that only scratched the surface of the marque’s one-sided success on the evening.
Brad Baker (No. 6 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) and Davis Fisher (No. 67 Bob Lanphere Beaverton Motorcycles Indian Scout FTR750) came home fourth and fifth to lock down the entire top five for Indian Motorcycles, while sixth-placed Briar Bauman (No. 14 Zanotti Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650) was the only runner inside the top eight not aboard a Scout FTR750.
Even stripped of his Atlanta Short Track victory due to disqualification, Mees now leads the championship fight by 17 points over Saturday’s seventh-place finisher Henry Wiles (No. 17 Wilco Racing/Willy Built/Bandit Industries Indian Scout FTR750) 75-58. Bauman is third with 57.
It may have taken a few rounds to rediscover his form of old, but Ryan Wells (No. 94 RMR/Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda CRF450) looked every bit the same rider who claimed the 2016 AFT Singles title in convincing fashion with a walkaway win in Saturday night’s undercard Main Event.
The 2017 AFT Twins Rookie of the Year returned to AFT Singles competition with big expectations in 2018. However, he opened the year in somewhat quiet fashion, stringing together 10th, sixth and 10th place results. Calistoga was another story entirely, as Wells worked his way into the lead on the second lap and effectively put the race out of reach with his pace from that point forward.
Wells ultimately took the checkered flag with over two-and-a-half seconds of padding.
Afterward, he said, “Hopefully this is the first of many podium appearances. I think we know what we know what we’ve got to do now. We made some major headway today, and I can’t wait for the rest of the season.”
For a second consecutive week, Shayna Texter (No. 52 ST52 Husqvarna/JCS Racing FC 450) attempted to charge her way to her first 2018 victory and again she came up just short in second. Starting from pole, Texter lost out in the initial shuffle off the line, falling back to sixth early before picking her way forward. However, once in second – and even with clear track in front of her – she was unable to make inroads on the flying Wells out front.
Title contender Dan Bromley (No. 62 KTM North America/Bromley Motorsports 450 SX-F) bounced back from his Texas Half-Mile disappointment with his third podium result on the young season.
Bromley picked up third following a chaotic last lap in which five riders traded haymakers with the final spot on the box up for grabs. Kevin Stollings (No. 99 Roof Systems Honda CRF450R) ended up on the clay after clashing with championship leader Brandon Price (No. 92 Parkinson Brothers Racing/DPC Racing Honda CRF450R). Bromley took full advantage of the incident, stealing third in the melee.
Last week’s breakthrough winner Morgen Mischler (No. 69 Cycle Craft Yamaha/Rohde’s Sales & Service Yamaha YZ450F) completed his epic charge from the third row to grab fourth in the fray, while Price recovered to round out the top five. Reigning class champ Kolby Carlile (No. 1 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) finished sixth, just 0.367 seconds back of third.
NBCSN will provide coverage of the Calistoga Half-Mile in a premiere telecast scheduled for May 20 at noon ET (9 am PT).
The 2018 American Flat Track season picks right back up next Saturday, May 12, in Phoenix, Ariz., for the Law Tigers Arizona Mile presented by Buddy Stubbs Harley-Davidson, the first of five consecutive Miles for the AFT Twins contenders