DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. October 18, 2020
Following 15 rounds of epic Progressive American
Flat Track action, Briar Bauman (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive
Insurance FTR750) successfully completed his bid to repeat as AFT
SuperTwins presented by Vance & Hines Champion in Saturday
evening’s decisive Progressive AFT Finale at DAYTONA II.
Even with an extended pandemic-imposed pause, the highly anticipated
2020 showdown between Bauman and multi-time series king Jared Mees (No.
9 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) proved more than
worth the wait. The momentum swung back and forth on a nearly
weekend-by-weekend basis, leaving both superstars still in control of
their destiny heading into this weekend’s DAYTONA finale.
Bauman seized control of the title fight with a clutch runner-up finish
on Friday, which seemingly made the final task before him relatively
easy by his standards. All he needed to do at Daytona International
Speedway on Saturday night was score an eighth-place finish to cap off
a title defense that saw him rack up six wins, four seconds, three
thirds, and one seventh along the way.
However, the level of difficulty was ratcheted up significantly due to
weather; rainy conditions forced multiple delays in the program, the
Semis were cancelled, and the AFT SuperTwins presented by Vance &
Hines Main was pushed to the front of the pack once conditions allowed
to ensure the season’s premier-class champ was crowned before the night
was out. The changes and unpredictability of the day could have easily
thrown an admittedly stressed Bauman out of his rhythm.
Instead he responded like a champion. Starting on the front row with
Mees as a result of their qualifying performance, Bauman got away in
third and glued himself to the rear wheel of his championship rival.
Meanwhile, Brandon Robinson (No. 44 HCRR Racing/Ben Evans Racing Indian
FTR750) proved invincible around the Short Track at DAYTONA for a
second consecutive night. He assumed the lead on lap one and held the
position through the checkered flag.
Mees did well to keep Robinson in his sights, clinging on in hopes of a
win that would give him the best possible shot at the championship
should Bauman make a critical mistake.
Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Happy Trails Racing FTR750) ran in fourth
deep into the contest, holding back a racy Sammy Halbert (No. 69
Coolbeth-Nila Racing Indian FTR750) for a solid five minutes. Unable to
find an opening, Halbert finally made one; he pushed up the inside of
Carver to take over fourth, knocking his rival back to seventh in the
Halbert then reeled in the leaders, arriving within striking distance
of Bauman and a potential podium finish just as the race entered its
final two laps. Bauman saw what was happening and understood full well
what could happen. Rather than risk getting similarly bumped down the
order and out of the points lead, Bauman allowed Halbert by and then
cruised to a title-clinching fourth-place finish.
After claiming his eighth-career victory, Robinson said, “This is
amazing. Through the ups and downs we’ve had this season to come out of
here with the DAYTONA double -- there’s nothing better. This is insane.
We’re going to be able to go into this offseason and get healthy and
come out swinging in 2021. I’m ecstatic.”
“Obviously, things went really, really well,” back-to-back champ Bauman
said. “I was able to do what we came for and what we set out to do all
season for Jess Garcia and the whole Garcia family -- win the
championship. Jess was with me every step of the way. It means a lot to
me to be able to fulfill what I showed up to do. He was one of my best
friends. It’s just an honor to win for him, Indian Motorcycle,
Progressive Insurance, and everyone else behind the team.”
AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys
Henry Wiles (No. 17 RMR Honda/Honda Talon CRF450R) demonstrated once
again why he’s widely considered one of the greatest Short Track riders
in the history of the sport, holding off Max Whale (No. 18 Coondoo
Cattle Co./Australian Road Services Kawasaki KX450F) and Trent Lowe
(No. 48 Roof Systems of Dallas, TX/Shoei Helmets Honda CRF450R) to win
an abbreviated AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys
Shortened to just four minutes plus two laps due to the numerous
weather delays, Wiles shot out to the lead from the start, and
protected the groove from there. Whale sought any way past Wiles but
simply could not find one. Lowe closed in as well, but the experienced
ST master ahead of them refused to give way.
After taking his second win of 2020, Wiles said, “I was stoked to get
that start. I told myself I can’t not win now. It was my race to win.
Max kept me honest, and I could see Trent was in the picture too. I put
in smooth, consistent laps. I’d go just a touch easy on some laps, and
then I’d pick it up a little bit on some other laps. I tried to ride
the best that I could so I didn’t give Max a good shot at poking it up
on me. I’m stoked my wife and daughter came out for this -- it means a
lot to me.”
Despite losing to Wiles on the night, Whale’s runner-up result was
enough to beat him for second in their championship fight (215-208).
Mikey Rush (No. 15 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) set the fastest lap
of the race en route to fourth with Andrew Luker (No. 11 Rackley
Racing/Keeran Racing Yamaha YZ450F) completing the top five just behind.
2020 AFT Singles champ Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha
YZ450F) was forced to start from Row 4 with no Semi to improve his
starting position. He made up a couple positions to end his
title-winning season with a run to ninth. Sandwiched between his
opening round failure to qualify for the Main and his ninth-placed
finale, Daniels packed in a remarkable eighth wins, nine podiums and
twelve top fives.
AFT Production Twins
2019 AFT Production Twins champion Cory Texter (No. 1 G&G
Racing/Roof Systems Yamaha MT-07) made the absolute most of his last
chance to run the #1 plate before handing it over to the newly-crowned
James Rispoli (No. 43 Latus Motors Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R),
logging a blowout victory in the final race of the 2020 Progressive
American Flat Track season.
Rispoli crashed and found himself trapped under his motorcycle after
coming together with Friday-winner Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X
Powered by Royal Enfield Twins FT) in the race’s opening corner. That
incident brought out a red flag and moved Rispoli from Row 1 to the
back of the field.
Texter ripped into the lead off the line at the restart and proceeded
to assemble a massive advantage en route to his fourth triumph of a
hard-fought yet ultimately unsuccessful title defense.
He said, “It feels amazing. I’ve wanted to win in DAYTONA my whole
life. I was actually the first rider to ever ride this racetrack back
in 2010. I helped test it out for them, but I’ve always sucked here. So
this is awesome. I feel competitive everywhere right now. I wish the
season could keep going or start over right now.”
Lewis backed up Royal Enfield’s maiden Progressive AFT victory with its second-ever podium finish the very next night.
Lewis was followed closely to the flag by third-place finisher Ben Lowe
(No. 25 Roof Systems/Bruce Lowe Excavating Yamaha MT-07), while Ryan
Varnes (No. 68 RVR/RoyBuilt Don’s Kawasaki Ninja 650) edged Patrick
Buchanan (No. 175 Parkinson Brothers Racing/PRO 1 Industries Kawasaki
Ninja 650) as the two completed the top five.
Meanwhile, despite being faced with an extremely difficult track to
overtake on and very little time in which to do it, Rispoli made his
way up to finish his season with an impressive sixth-place finish. The
result was actually the worst of an incredibly consistent campaign,
which also included seven wins, four seconds, two fourths, and a fifth.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 16, 2020) -
With all eyes trained on the Progressive American Flat Track Grand
National Championship points leaders, Brandon Robinson (No. 44 HCRR
Racing/Ben Evans Racing Indian FTR750) stepped forward and stole the
show in Friday night’s Progressive AFT Finale at DAYTONA I at Daytona
International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.
AFT SuperTwins presented by Vance & Hines title rivals Briar Bauman
(No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) and Jared Mees
(No. 9 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) opened the Main
Event from first and second on the line. As they went elbow to elbow in
an attempt to gain an early advantage over one another, their melee
opened the door for Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 Harley-Davidson/Vance
& Hines XG750R Rev X), Robinson and Robert Pearson (No. 27 Rackley
Racing Indian FTR750) to rush past.
Vanderkooi enjoyed a short-lived spell out front before giving way to
Robinson, who then proved utterly dominant over the race’s final nine
minutes despite racing with a broken right foot.
Robinson, who accepted his winner’s trophy on crutches, said, “I’m
absolutely ecstatic right now -- I can’t believe this. My Roof Systems
team gave me an awesome motorcycle. All my guys stuck behind me through
all the injuries. They believed in me and told me to go have fun, and
here we are. This is unbelievable. I couldn’t be happier; these guys
deserve it, and all I wanted to do was get a win for my team.”
With Robinson long gone, Bauman and Mees frantically fought their way
forward to collect as many points as possible ahead of tomorrow’s
Reigning champ Bauman ultimately proved more successful in those
efforts. He dispatched Pearson for third with a hard pass with six laps
remaining, and then spent the remainder of his race chasing down
Vanderkooi. That relentless pursuit paid dividends with less than a
minute remaining on the clock when he worked his way through to earn
second place and the 20 points that came along with it.
Despite being passed by Bauman late, Vanderkooi equaled his best ever premier-class finish in third.
Mees shook free from Davis Fisher (No. 67 BriggsAuto.com Indian FTR750)
to reel in and sail past Pearson, moving into fourth position with four
minutes remaining. However, Bauman and Vanderkooi were too far out in
front, leaving him one spot off the box at the flag and with a
considerably deeper hole to climb out of heading into Saturday’s
With just one race to go, Bauman leads Mees 294-280. That means even if
Mees wins tomorrow, Bauman needs only to finish eighth or better to
repeat as AFT SuperTwins Champion.
AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys
Chad Cose (No. 49 Wally Brown Racing/American Suzuki RM-Z450) finally
broke through in the season’s finale weekend to claim his first victory
of 2020 in a hard-fought AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle
Attorneys Main Event, a huge moment for his Wally Brown Racing effort,
backed by factory Suzuki.
Cose twice beat Max Whale (No. 18 Coondoo Cattle Co./Australian Road
Services Kawasaki KX450F) for the holeshot in the once red-flagged and
restarted Main and never once gave up the position. That doesn’t mean
he had it easy, however; Cose was pushed throughout with Whale and
Henry Wiles (No. 17 RMR Honda/Honda Talon CRF450R) both showing him a
wheel at different times, including a final-lap attempt to steal away
the win on the part of Wiles.
After taking the checkered flag, Cose said, “I’m just so pumped. Last
year and the year before, it was a black eye just to be on this bike,
and that’s credit to my team giving me a good motorcycle. I’m just
overwhelmed with emotion. It is so awesome to get my win here in
DAYTONA. This is like my second home here, and I’m so happy for
everybody who supports me. I know there’s been some down days for us,
but as long as I have these guys on my side, we’re going to keep
fighting, we’re going to keep grinding, and we’re not going to give up."
Wiles’ runner-up result tightens the battle for second in the
championship just a bit. Despite missing the previous round, he now
trails Friday’s third-place finisher, Whale, by 12 points (195-183)
heading into tomorrow’s season finale.
Also in the mix throughout was already crowned 2020 AFT Singles
champion Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F). Daniels
was fighting an uphill battle starting from Row 3 as a result of a
crash in the Semi, but he still managed to join the battle for the win.
He ultimately finished fourth, falling just 0.749 seconds short of
extending his six-race win streak to seven.
Meanwhile, Daniels’ teammate, Mikey Rush (No. 15 Estenson Racing Yamaha
YZ450F) was forced to start from the back of the pack due to an
opening-lap incident that saw him go down while running third. Still,
he somehow managed to slash his way up from last place to take an
impressive fifth on the little bullring circuit.
As a result, Rush retains a slim mathematical shot at a second
consecutive championship runner-up finish; he now trails second-ranked
Whale by 25 points with tomorrow’s race left to decide the final order.
AFT Production Twins
An historic AFT Production Twins Main Event saw Johnny Lewis (No. 10
Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield Twins FT) claim Royal Enfield’s
first-ever AFT victory and season-long dominator James Rispoli (No. 43
Latus Motors Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R) crowned the class’ champion.
Despite his underdog status on the upstart RE effort, DAYTONA Short
Track genius Lewis controlled the evening in the AFT Production Twins.
He escaped to an easy win in his Semi, qualified on pole and finished
things off by going wire-to-wire in the Main Event.
Lewis fought back an early challenge from Ben Lowe (No. 25 Roof
Systems/Bruce Lowe Excavating Yamaha MT-07), asserted at the front
himself mid-race, and then successfully held off a desperate charge
from Cory Texter (No. 1 G&G Racing/Roof Systems Yamaha MT-07) in
the race’s waning moments to secure the win.
Afterward, Lewis said, “I was skeptical coming here riding twins on
this track, but it’s actually a lot of fun. It’s a little bit more work
than riding a 450, but it was a lot of fun to ride this Royal Enfield
“Everybody’s support for this program has been awesome. We’ve been
busting our butts all season, and it feels good to not only get to the
podium, but win a race. I’m excited to continue this effort with Royal
Enfield, and I’m excited to come back out tomorrow.”
Rispoli, meanwhile, sat a safe-yet-close fourth behind Lewis, Texter,
and Lowe for almost the entire race. Even if Texter had beaten Lewis to
the checkered flag, all he needed was a seventh to end the title fight
early. Fourth was more than enough.
With tomorrow’s race still to go, Rispoli has racked up seven wins,
four runner-ups, two fourths, and a fifth en route to the 2020 AFT
Production Twins throne. This championship marks the first for
Harley-Davidson since the introduction of the XG750R, a pivotal moment
for one of the most iconic manufacturers in the history of the sport.
“I’m so fired up -- thank you to my HogSpoli nation out there!” an
exuberant Rispoli said. “Tonight I thought we had a shot at the win,
but these guys were riding so good. To be honest, I didn’t want to
throw it away. Tomorrow, we’ll come back and go for the win, and then
we’ll let the celebrations begin.”
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