EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ. (October 7, 2018) – American Flat Track closed out an historic 2018 in East Rutherford, N.J. on Saturday night with a pair of barn-burning AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines and AFT Singles races. The first-ever Meadowlands Mile presented by Ducati definitely left fans counting the days to the 2019 season after a pair of living legends – and a pair of soon-to-be legends – battled inches apart at triple-digit speeds for 25 and 15 laps, respectively, around the unique, multi-line and highly challenging Meadowlands Mile circuit in contests not decided until the season’s final corners.
At the end of the AFT Twins event, Bryan Smith (No. 4 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) got the better of teammate/rival Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing SDI Scout FTR750) in a performance that set the stage for a thrilling 2019.
Mees has reigned over the AFT Twins class with an iron wrist for the majority of the past two seasons, storming to a pair of dominant AFT Twins national championships. Smith, meanwhile, suffered in his wake, at one point going more than a calendar year between victories. He put an exclamation point on his late-season resurgence in Saturday’s thrilling showdown, however, closing out his 2018 campaign with three victories in the final four races.
After the two went back and forth throughout the AFT Twins Main, the drama was somehow escalated even further when Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Roof Systems of Dallas/Indian of Metro Milwaukee Scout FTR750) and Briar Bauman (No. 14 Zanotti Racing Indian Scout FTR750) joined the party with just a lap and a half remaining.
A surprise move by Carver on Smith appeared to provide Mees the room he needed to escape, but Smith immediately countered and stuck it up the inside of Mees heading into Turn 3 for the final time. From there he powered to the checkered flag clean after Mees ran wide in Turn 4 in a desperate search for traction. Carver ended up third, with Bauman close behind in fourth.
“My bike was dialed all day,” Smith said. “Hats off to my crew; the Indian was just on rails for me today. I was sitting behind Jared just waiting to the end. I didn’t want to show him what I was doing because I thought I was better. I was just kinda chillin’ behind him and waiting, and it’s not often you can sit behind that guy and wait because normally he takes off and hides. I’m stoked that my bike worked so good, and I’m pumped at myself that I was able to hold it together and make the move on the last lap when it counted.”
Despite coming up short on Saturday, Mees walked away from 2018 with an astonishing 10 victories, 15 podiums, and a 93-point championship margin over 18 races.
The finale also marked the final race of another legend’s career, Kenny Coolbeth (No. 2 Nila Racing, Columbia Avionics Indian Scout FTR750), who once again proved he’s leaving on his own terms. He registered yet another competitive ride, rounding out his decorated career with a seventh-place performance.
“I have no regrets with how my career went,” Coolbeth said. “When things were bad, it just made me stronger. It made me the person I am today. I’m fortunate to have met some really good friends and raced with them. I would love to chase these guys around some more, but it’s over. I’ll do my motos during the week, and maybe come out and watch these guys on the weekends sometimes.”
The AFT Singles season finale was an instant classic, pitting two of the classes’ top guns against one another in a showdown to decide third overall in the 2018 championship rankings.
In the end it was Shayna Texter (No. 52 Husqvarna Motorcycles/JCS Racing FC 450) grabbing the checkered flag ahead of fellow ‘Mile Master’ Kolby Carlile (No. 1 Estenson Racing/McCandless Truck Center Yamaha YZ450F) by an impossibly tight 0.006 seconds. No one knew for sure who’d won when they first crossed the line.
Carlile made an early break from the pack and threatened to run away unchallenged. However, Texter emerged from the large group fighting for second just prior to mid-distance and ran Carlile down to the tune of half-a-second per lap.
Once they came together it was on. The two traded the lead multiple times, including four times on the final lap from Turn 3 to the finish line. Carlile drafted around the outside and appeared to inch by Texter on the home straight, but Texter found a bit of extra speed to nip back ahead by less than half a wheel.
The victory was Texter’s third of the season and the first-ever Mile win for the Husqvarna FC 450. The triumph also cemented her position as the AFT Singles class’ all-time winningest rider, upping her career tally to 14.
After the race Texter said, “It was incredible. It shows how much speed Kolby and I have out there to battle each and every week for two years in a row. I think this is Kolby’s final Singles race, so no better way to send him off into the Twins and the future than to battle bar-to-bar to the finish.
“It’s been an incredible year for us… Everyone has been like, ‘You’re so good on the Miles but you haven’t got a Mile win this year…’ But the ‘Flying Tomato’ has been on it. To get this Mile win at the end of the year… I’m super stoked.”
2018 AFT Singles champion Dan Bromley (No. 62 KTM North America/Bromley Motorsports 450 SX-F) concluded his season with another podium finish in third. Bromley managed to win out in a huge scrap for the final spot on the box despite the inherent disadvantage he suffers on the Miles due to his size.
The result was the 13th podium finish of Bromley’s epic, 2018 championship campaign.