Photography by Larry Lawrence
DAYTONA BEACH, FL, March 13 — Briar Bauman had long been touted as one of the next big things in flat track racing. Thursday night at the Daytona Short Track Bauman proved he is indeed as advertised, scoring his first ever AMA Grand National win, at a track that has and continues to provide surprise winners.
Bauman, 18, from Salinas, California, won by riding a smart and smooth race on the always tricky short track outside of NASCAR turn on at Daytona International Speedway. He led every lap of the 25-lap national and rode his Rod Lake Racing Honda CRF450F to a 1.951-second victory over Sammy Halbert. Rounding out the podium Thursday night was, like Bauman, another of the young guns, Brandon Robinson.
It was a tough night for defending champ Brad Baker. His primary bike went sour just before the main, so he went to a back-up machine, but was black flagged for his back-up bike not being in the AMA Pro Racing staging area before the race. He pulled off the track after five laps and finished last.
The race was red flagged after two laps when two riders went down in turn one. On the complete restart Bauman went right to the front.
“It was all about running a smart race tonight for a full 25 laps and keeping from blowing it into the airfence,” Bauman said. “They watered the track just before the main, so it was real slick. The front end would tuck out a lot. I tried not to lose the front, but it happened every lap and you learned to ride with it.”
It was an emotional moment for Bauman on the last lap when it was obvious he had his first win in hand.
“I teared in my helmet,” Bauman said. “I didn’t want to look like Mike Alessi or anything like that, but it was just an awesome feeling.”
Ryan Wells scored his second Daytona Pro Singles victory. The Albion, New York rider won his very first race two years ago at Daytona and was thrilled to earn his second at the track on his GE Capital KTM. Wells credited training partner, road racer James Rispoli for helping him get to the podium.
“James has worked with me, trained with me,” Wells said. “Without him I don’t think I would be up here.”
Justin Jones and Brandon Wilhelm joined Wells on the Pro Singles podium.
The riders will do it all over again Friday night.
Daytona Short Track results – Thursday
1 14 Briar Bauman Salinas, CA Honda CRF450R 25 Laps
2 7 Sammy Halbert Graham, WA Yamaha YZ 450F +01.951
3 44 Brandon Robinson Oxford, PA Kawasaki KX450F +02.504
4 54 Mike Rush San Jose, CA Honda CRF450R +03.488
5 9 Jared Mees Clio, MI Honda CRF450R +04.226
6 17 Henry Wiles Crystal, MI Kawasaki KX450F +04.652
7 20 Matt Weidman Westerlo, NY Honda CRF450R +06.546
8 49 Chad Cose Fremont, CA Honda CRF450R +07.373 1
9 80 Stevie Bonsey Salinas, CA Honda CRF450R +07.821
10 5 Jake Johnson Coatesville, PA Honda CRF450R +08.048
Pro Singles Results – Thursday
1 94B Ryan Wells Albion, NY KTM 450 SX-F 16 Laps
2 19B Justin Jones Holley, NY Honda CRF450R +03.009
3 24J Brandon Wilhelm Aurora, IN Honda CRF450R +04.212
4 74Z Rodney Spencer Jr. San Martin, CA Honda CRF450R +07.058
5 30Z Bronson Bauman Salinas, CA Honda CRF450R +07.769
6 54A Dan Bromley Warrington, PA KTM 450 SX-F +08.147
7 44E Nick Armstrong Norco, CA Honda CRF450R +09.149
8 66Y Dominic Colindres Brisbane, CA Honda CRF450R +09.416
9 67M Davis Fisher warren, oregon Honda CRF450R +11.109
10 83S Mike Poe Timonium, MD Honda CRF450R +11.644