DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 18, 2020) – Five-time Grand National Champion Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) notched up the 50th premier-class victory of his American Flat Track career with a second dominant win at Barberville, Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park in Saturday’s Volusia Half-Mile II presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys.
The “50” that may be more relevant to Mees at the moment, however, is the 50 points he logged with his season-opening double victory that launched his 2020 AFT SuperTwins presented by Vance & Hines title campaign in perfect form.
Mees actually started from the second row this time around, allowing reigning AFT SuperTwins Champion Briar Bauman (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) a chance to make an early escape of his own after Mees’ Friday disappearing act.
However, Mees worked fast, slashing through the field, and ultimately, Bauman less than three minutes into the Main Event. Mees steadily built his advantage up to just over a second as the two encountered lapped traffic and managed that gap to the checkered flag.
“What an amazing night,” Mees said. “We struggled in the Semi; we gambled with the set-up and just went backwards. Kenny Tolbert and Bubba Bentkey worked their magic for the Main and the motorcycle was hooked up so good off the corners thanks to Jimmy Wood with Öhlins Suspension. Those guys got me so hooked for the entire weekend, and I came in so hungry.”
Brandon Robinson (No. 44 HCRR Racing/Ben Evans Racing Indian FTR750) dueled with Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Coolbeth-Nila Racing Indian FTR750) for third over the race’s opening half before clearing off to a lonely podium finish. It was a supremely gritty performance on the part of Robinson, who not only managed to finish third following 38 laps in sweltering conditions, but did so just seven weeks after breaking his ankle.
Halbert got swallowed up by a charging Brandon Price (No. 92 Roof Systems of Dallas, Texas Indian FTR750), but managed to retake fourth as they went back and forth while weaving past slower riders. Price actually found himself dropped back to sixth at the flag, as Davis Fisher (No. 67 BriggsAuto.com Indian FTR750) joined their fight late and stole away fifth position.
AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys
2019 rookie sensation Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) entered the season as many pundits’ hot pick to earn the 2020 AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys crown. Those predictions may have been second guessed by some after Daniels failed to make the Main Event in Friday’s opener. However, Daniels immediately reestablished himself as a serious player in this year’s title fight with an inspired ride to victory on Saturday night.
Even better, the win came following one of the most entertaining and hectic races in AFT Singles history. An eight-rider pack fought for the lead throughout the eight-minute regulation of the Main, with Daniels, Chad Cose (No. 49 Wally Brown Racing/American Suzuki RM-Z450), and Mikey Rush (No. 14 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) all taking turns at the front with countless passes for position just behind.
But just as the timer clicked 0:00 to set up a final two-lap shootout to decide the winner, the red flag flew. As a result, Daniels took point in a staggered restart, lining up just ahead of teammate Rush and Shayna Texter (No. 52 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F).
Once the race resumed, Rush sought a way past teammate Daniels but instead found himself displaced by Texter entering Turn 1 on the final lap. Daniels pumped his fist as he closed on the checkered flag, unaware that Texter had a run on him as well. Despite the near disaster, Daniels held on to the redemptive win by a scant 0.020 seconds at the stripe, even though Texter’s final charge marked the fastest lap of the night between the three competitors.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve won a national, and last night we didn’t even qualify for the Main Event,” Daniels said. “It’s just awesome to have this great team behind me. We’ve got our work cut out for us now, but we’re going to make a fight for this championship — I think we showed that tonight. I’m just pumped.”
Early-race leader Cose finished fourth, followed by Brandon Kitchen (No. 105 Donley Excavating/TCD Suspension KTM 450 SX-F), Cameron Smith (No. 44 Mike Butler Racing/Cornerstone Masonry Group Honda CRF450R), and Morgen Mischler (No. 13 Roof Systems DFW/Duffy Fleet Services KTM 450 SX-F).
AFT Production Twins
Reigning AFT Production Twins champion Cory Texter (No. 1 G&G Racing/Roof Systems Yamaha MT-07) was far from satisfied after opening his title defense with a ‘mere’ podium finish in Friday evening’s opener. He promptly set things right for himself in Saturday’s rematch, registering a blowout victory to put himself back atop the points order.
Texter grabbed the holeshot and never looked back. James Rispoli (No. 43 Latus Motors Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R) and Ryan Varnes (No. 68 RVR/RoyBuilt Don’s Kawasaki Ninja 650) raced in close formation behind the leader over the contest’s opening half, but Texter slowly broke their challenge and powered to 3.244-second margin of victory.
Texter’s lopsided win was reminiscent of the three consecutive victories he logged to kick off his triumphant ‘19 campaign. It also provided strong evidence that he’s rediscovered the mojo he spent much of the latter half of last year looking to reclaim.
An emotional Texter dedicated the race to his best friend and title-winning mechanic, Jon Reid, who passed away last November, and another good friend in Jess Garcia, who died this past Wednesday.
“Last night felt a bonus to me because I knew how badly we were struggling,” Texter said. “And the first couple of sessions out today, we were really struggling again. But I have to say, I just have a lot of confidence in my team and in myself. And with all the hard work we put in, I’m just going to battle all year long. There’s no quit.”
Varnes appeared primed to overtake Rispoli late in the race as he did on Friday night. That is, right up until the moment he suffered a mechanical issue that erased his podium hopes with just over a minute remaining on the scoreboard.
As a result, the final spot on the box behind Rispoli went to another national championship-winning roadracer returned to dirt track in the ever-popular Danny Eslick (No. 64 Scott Powersports/R&D Machine Kawasaki Ninja 650).
Prior to Varnes’ misfortune, Eslick was also the beneficiary of a mechanical problem on the part of Nick Armstrong (No. 60 Lessley Brothers Racing, Competitive SheetMetal Yamaha MT-07), who slowed while battling Eslick for fourth with less than three minutes on the clock.
The final two positions in the top five fell to Ben Lowe (No. 25 Roof Systems of Dallas/Bruce Lowe Excavating Yamaha MT-07) and Morgen Mischler (No. 13 Weirbach Racing, Kawasaki USA Ninja 650).