PERRIS, Calif. (May 11, 2019) – American Flat Track ace Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Kennedy Racing/Armbruster Racing Indian FTR750) registered a flawless performance to reign supreme in Saturday night’s Vance & Hines So-Cal Half-Mile presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys at the Southern California Fairgrounds in Perris, Calif.
Robinson controlled the once stopped and restarted Main Event from the front from the race’s opening lap. In doing so, he became the first AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines rider to claim more than one victory in 2019.
When asked if his second win of the year was as satisfying as his first, Robinson said, “They all feel amazing. It’s great to be up here. Any time you’re on the box is good, but winning… this is what it’s all about. This is what we put in all the hard work for. My team busted their butts. My team owner, Jerry Kennedy, gives us everything we need to win. My crew chief, Brent Armbruster — the guy is amazing. We make a lot of decisions together, but there are some times he bails me out and gets the bike right. Man, he hit the nail on the head again tonight. This one is for my team.”
While Robinson took the checkered flag with nearly two seconds to spare and relatively little drama following the restart, prior to the red flag a titanic showdown was taking shape.
At the time of the stoppage, Robinson found himself relentlessly hounded by an inspired Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R Rev X), who teased the potential to overtake Robinson on either the inside or the outside. But a potentially historic victory (the factory Harley squad is looking for its first win since 2016 and the first ever for the XG750R) would have to wait at least another week, as the fallout of the red flag foiled Halbert’s hopes.
After a Henry Wiles (No. 17 Bandit Industries/DPC Racing/Wilco Racing Indian FTR750) spill reset the Main Event eight laps in, Robinson powered away at the restart while Halbert dropped several spots down the order.
Title leader Briar Bauman (No. 14 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) was the primary beneficiary. He immediately slotted into second and held strong throughout to extend his perfect podium record on the season with a runner-up result.
Halbert battled his way forward and ultimately made his way back onto the box with a charge to third. His encouraging performance was amplified by that of his teammate, Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R Rev X), as the two combined to give the resurgent works Harley outfit a 3-4 result at Vance & Hines’ home race.
Defending double AFT Twins Champion Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) finished fifth. That might not sound overly impressive considering his stack of accomplishments in recent seasons, however, it’s worth noting that Mees summoned the speed, skill, and motivation to slash his way up from the back of the grid after only narrowly qualifying for the Main Event.
Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys
2016 Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys champion Ryan Wells (No. 94 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) backed up his first podium of the season — taken last time out at the Arizona Super TT — with his first win of the year in a virtual wire-to-wire triumph at the So-Cal Half-Mile.
On a track that had proven difficult to overtake all night, the majority of the fireworks in the AFT Singles Main came early. Two-time ‘19 race winner Jesse Janisch (No. 132 Roof Systems Dallas TX/Öhlins Yamaha YZ450F) grabbed the holeshot but was immediately overhauled around the outside by Morgen Mischler (No. 69 Waters Autobody Racing/D&D PowerSports KTM 450 SX-F).
Wells squared them both up, however, and stole away the lead before the opening lap was out. The race was effectively decided at that point, as Wells never put a wheel wrong or provided a rival an opportunity to stick a wheel by him.
After the race, Wells said, “TTs have never been my super strong suit so I knew getting a podium (at the Arizona Super TT), we had worked out the bugs that needed to be worked out. The Yamaha was awesome. It was huge for me to come in here and get the win. To lead all 15 laps… it was a long race for me mentally. It felt awesome to lead some laps and come out with the win. I can’t say enough about the whole Estenson racing family. That pit over there is literally a family. The camaraderie is awesome and I couldn’t get a win for a better group.”
Michael Inderbitzin (No. 54 Pacific Tub & Tile/Mark Strock Honda CRF450R) emerged from the pack and slotted into second in the early going. Inderbitzin kept Wells honest throughout and was hugely impressive on his way to a first-career AFT Singles podium finish.
A number of key title contenders clawed their way forward late in the race to collect some additional points that could prove pivotal as the season continues to take shape. Chief among them was championship leader Dalton Gauthier (No. 122 D&D Cycles/Gobert Smash Husqvarna FC450), who made his way up into third by the checkered flag.
He was followed home by reigning champ Dan Bromley (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) with the aforementioned Janisch placed fifth.
AFT Production Twins
Cory Texter (No. 65 G&G Racing/Holeshot Powersports Yamaha MT-07) picked right up where he left off at the Texas Half-Mile, going two-for-two in AFT Production Twins action in 2019 by scooping up a second consecutive victory on Saturday night at the So-Cal Half-Mile.
Texter jumped out into the lead from the start and never relinquished the lead in the 15-lap Main.
Ryan Varnes (No. 68 Varnes Racing/RoyBuilt/Don’s Kawasaki Ninja 650) planted himself on Texter’s outside hip over the opening handful of laps and for a time appeared capable of pushing Texter to the flag. However, matching Texter’s stone-cold consistency on the slick Half-Mile proved too much of an ask.
As a result, Texter cleared open some space at the front en route to a 0.959-second margin of victory, while Varnes found himself reeled back into a three-way battle for the runner-up spot with Kayl Kolkman (No. 98 Kolkman Racing/Uncle D Yamaha MT-07) and Michael Inderbitzin (No. 54 Weirbach Racing/Racing Unlimited Kawasaki Ninja 650).
Despite the late pressure, Varnes managed to hold on for second, while Kolkman narrowly fended off Inderbitzin’s challenge for the last spot on the podium in the race’s final corner by a meager 0.072 seconds.
AFT Singles title leader Dalton Gauthier (No. 122 Racing Unlimited Kawasaki/D&D Cycles Kawasaki Ninja 650) rounded out the top five.
After picking up his second AFT Production Twins win in as many tries this season, Texter said, “I just have a good bike and a good team behind me. I’m having fun and enjoying myself this year, and that’s what’s important. This class is no joke; there are some great riders in it, and I knew this Main Event would be tough. I’m not typically fast on these slick racetracks, so we’re two-for-two on tracks I didn’t think we’d do well on. I’m pretty happy with that.”
Be sure to check out the feature broadcast of the Vance & Hines So-Cal Half-Mile presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys on NBCSN with coverage of all Main Events, enhanced by exclusive features and cutting-edge aerial drone and onboard footage. The broadcast will debut on Sunday, May 19, at 12:00 p.m. ET/9:00 a.m. PT and will re-air later that week on Thursday, May 23, at 4:00 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. PT.
American Flat Track continues its California swing with next weekend’s Law Tigers Sacramento Mile presented by Cycle Gear powered by Estenson Racing at the Cal Expo Fair in Sacramento, Calif., on Saturday, May 18