It took Briar Bauman (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) nine seasons in American Flat Track’s premier class to finally claim his maiden Mile victory and complete the career Grand Slam. It took just one day for him to earn a second.
Bauman completed the Indianapolis double with a tactical ride to win Saturday night’s AFT SuperTwins presented by Vance & Hines Main Event at the Indy Mile II.
Saturday’s rematch at the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center took on a different shape compared to Friday’s Indy Mile I, as Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) was determined to prevent the reigning Grand National Champion from executing another early escape.
Lap after lap, Mees would dive back into the lead on corner entrance. Doing so not only kept Bauman corralled behind him, but it also put him under threat with both Bryan Smith (No. 4 Harley-Davidson/Vance & Hines XG750R Rev X) and Brandon Robinson (No. 44 HCRR Racing/Ben Evans Racing Indian FTR750) running in close contention.
After taking and losing the lead on numerous occasions early, Bauman switched up tactics and spent the bulk of the second half of the race just waiting in third, leaving the Mile-proven virtuosos of Mees and Smith to exercise a well-known mutual rivalry.
After Mees had secured a solid lead ahead of a still-determined Smith, Bauman seized the opportunity to make the high line work to his advantage, powering past both living legends to rip open a multiple bike-length lead. Mees did his best to respond on the final lap but couldn’t quite muster enough pace to reel Bauman back to within striking distance.
Bauman took the checkered flag with 1.147 seconds in hand over Mees, while Smith earned Harley’s first Mile podium since the .
Bauman said, “It’s pretty crazy. Honestly, I had both Jared’s and Bryan’s posters on my wall when I was growing up. I watched them every chance I could. Getting to race with them is a little bit surreal… The racing was clean and fast and the track was gnarly. All-in-all, it’s a dream come true.”
Robinson lost touch with the leaders with around three minutes to go but had built up just enough space to hold off a charging Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Coolbeth-Nila Racing Indian FTR750) for fourth.
Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750), Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Happy Trails Racing FTR750), Brandon Price (No. 92 Roof Systems of Dallas, Texas Indian FTR750), Robert Pearson (No. 27 R/J Performance Racing/Hite Trucking Indian FTR750) and Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 Harley-Davidson/Vance & Hines XG750R Rev X) completed the top ten.
Bauman’s twin victories move him ahead of Mees in what’s promising to be a season-long heavyweight title fight, 90-87. Halbert is a distant third with 66 points to his credit.
AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys
Henry Wiles (No. 17 RMR Honda/Honda Talon CRF450R) earned his first victory since transitioning to the AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys class following one of the most entertaining races in recent memory.
As many as ten riders still held a shot at the win as the clock showed 0:00, setting up an epic final two laps to decide the race.
No matter how massive the pack, Wiles ran near the front throughout, swapping the lead on countless occasions with last night’s surprise winner, Brandon Kitchen (No. 105 Donley Excavating/TCD Suspension Honda CRF450F), former teammate Cole Zabala (No. 51 Cornerstone Masonry/B&M Masonry CRF450R) and prodigy Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F).
Long-time AFT Singles standouts Shayna Texter (No. 52 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) and Ryan Wells (No. 94 Waters Autobody Racing/D&D PowerSports KTM 450 SX-F) emerged late, both flashing the potential to steal the win away in the same fashion that Kitchen had the night before.
As the final lap played out, it became increasingly obvious the race would come down to a final straight shootout between Wiles and Zabala. Wiles worked hard to open up a small advantage through Turns 1, 2 and 3 but appeared vulnerable after making a slight bobble while exiting 4. Zabala pulled right up behind Wiles and then swung out of his draft with the checkered flag in sight. While he managed to speed up alongside his opponent’s bike, he didn’t have quite enough steam to complete the winning maneuver.
Wiles said, “We had some guys up there in the mix in the Main Event we hadn’t really seen all day. Cole was riding the wheels off his bike. I’m really happy to see him up here on the podium.
“The guys at RMR and American Honda have been giving us a good effort, and it showed up tonight. Everybody had been saying I’m kind of a big boy and genetically at a disadvantage, but we got it done tonight. I’m really stoked that I could come through.”
Despite narrowly missing out on the win, Zabala’s eye-opening effort still qualifies as a breakthrough performance; it not only marked his first career AFT podium, but his first-ever top-five in the series.
Texter finished third, with Daniels, Wells and Kitchen taking fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively.
After an unfortunate mechanical, title hopeful Mikey Rush (No. 15 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) finished an uncharacteristic 15th. As a result, Wiles now leads Kitchen 68-65 with Texter jumping up to third with 58 points.
AFT Production Twins
James Rispoli (No. 43 Latus Motors Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R) got a second chance to end his run of AFT Production Twins second-place finishes. He responded by winning by more than 12 seconds in an absolute show of force.
“The Rocket” had been knocking on the door ever since returning to dirt track in 2019 after assembling a national championship-winning road racing career. He notched up four podiums a year ago, and opened his 2020 campaign with three consecutive runner-up finishes.
Rispoli established himself as the heavy favorite on Saturday night, topping both qualifying sessions and running away with his Semi. Despite the lofty expectations set by his pace, he was quickly swallowed up and shuffled back to fourth as the Main Event got underway.
The race was completely reset, however, following a Michael Inderbitzin (No. 54 Weirbach Racing/Rekluse Kawasaki Ninja 650) crash. And this time around, Rispoli stole the holeshot and quickly erased any aspirations of victory his rivals might have entertained as he disappeared into the distance.
Rispoli was consistently a full second per lap better than the rest of the field, ultimately taking the checkered flag with a massive 12.396-second margin of victory.
The win was Rispoli’s first in American Flat Track competition in more than a decade. Afterward, he was suitably excited: “I’m so stoked! I’m so fired up, I lost my voice on the cooldown lap. It’s been so long since I won… I’ve got to thank George Latus for putting the team together, ProBEAM, all the guys on the team for just getting through the grind, and Vance & Hines for giving us a rocketship.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever had this big of a lead in my entire career. That’s what we want to do—we want to stamp our authority. They say it’s hard but when everything is flowing it’s easy. I’m just pumped!”
The race for second was considerably less predictable with as many as six riders in contention for the position deep into the contest. Friday winner Ben Lowe (No. 25 Roof Systems of Dallas/Bruce Lowe Excavating Yamaha MT-07) and 2015 GNC2 Indy victor Nick Armstrong(No. 60 Lessley Brothers Racing/Competitive SheetMetal Yamaha MT-07) resumed last night’s intense scrap as they repeatedly went side-by-side angling for the spot.
At least they did until both riders found themselves outclassed by reigning class champion Cory Texter (No. 1 G&G Racing/Roof Systems Yamaha MT-07), who sailed past and then eked out a gap on the final lap to finish as the race’s runner-up.
Armstrong held on for third to score his first AFT podium result since the aforementioned ‘15 Indy win. Chad Cose (No. Wally Brown Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R) came home fourth, edging Lowe at the stripe by 0.019 seconds.
Texter’s late-race flurry helped minimize the championship damage, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Rispoli from taking a commanding lead of the early-season title fight. Rispoli now leads with 85 points to Texter’s 76 while Lowe sits third with 68.
Reigning Grand National Champion Briar Bauman(No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) added his name to the list of American Flat Track legends to win at the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center with an imperious victory in Friday night’s Indy Mile I.
2020 AFT Indy Mile 1 Results
Bauman celebrated the milestone performance with a home run swing of the checkered flag, signifying the completion of his career Grand Slam, adding a first-career AFT SuperTwins presented by Vance & Hines Mile triumph to his earlier Half-Mile, TT and Short Track wins.
Bauman’s primary rival, multi-time GNC champ Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750), took the early advantage with teammate/brother Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) right behind in third.
But Briar Bauman broke up the impromptu Indian Wrecking Crew photo shoot when he seized control of the Main with a full nine minutes left on the clock. Once through, Bauman — who looked smooth and planted with everyone else seemingly teetering on the edge of control — never looked back.
Behind, Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Coolbeth-Nila Racing Indian FTR750) not only chased down Mees and Bronson Bauman, he actually pulled clear of them in second. There simply was no catching the champ on this evening, however, and Halbert was forced to accept a lonely second 2.203 seconds behind the winner.
Bronson Bauman appeared to line up Mees for a final-lap strike, but Mees countered, narrowly holding on for the final spot on the box by 0.021 seconds.
Briar Bauman’s triumph snapped Mees’ streak of Mile wins, which included all six on last year’s slate. Mees still holds a two-point advantage in the ‘20 standings, however, after opening the season with a double victory at the Volusia Half-Mile.
After the race, Bauman said, “(Getting the Grand Slam) is really cool. This place is really special. I know a lot of us were excited to come back here and race on the Indy Mile. I didn’t think I’d ever get to do it again. It’s also Indian’s 50th win in the series, so for those to go hand-and-hand means a lot to me.
“This one goes out to the Garcia family. We lost one of our buddies (Jess Garcia) right before Volusia, and I wanted to win one there to dedicate to him, but Jared just laid it on us really bad. I didn’t think a Mile was going to be the one, but I guess Jess did. This one is for him.”
Brandon Price (No. 92 Roof Systems of Dallas, Texas Indian FTR750) edged “Mile Master” Bryan Smith (No. 4 Harley-Davidson/Vance & Hines XG750R Rev X) to pick up the final spot in the top five.
Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Happy Trails Racing FTR750), Davis Fisher (No. 67 BriggsAuto.com Indian FTR750), Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 Harley-Davidson/Vance & Hines XG750R Rev X), and Robert Pearson (No. 27 R/J Performance Racing/Hite Trucking Indian FTR750) completed the top ten.
AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys
Second-year pro Brandon Kitchen (No. 105 Donley Excavating/TCD Suspension Honda CRF450F) outfoxed the most experienced riders in the AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys class with a dramatic final-lap upset victory.
Kitchen spent almost the entire race as a fairly anonymous member of the second pack, while veteran riders Henry Wiles (No. 17 RMR Honda/Honda Talon CRF450R) and Mikey Rush (No. 14 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) did battle at the front.
Although Wiles and Rush held a solid advantage over the rest of the field for much of the race, they were joined late by the newest member of the RMR/American Honda family, Michael Inderbitzin (No. 54 RMR Honda/Honda Talon CRF450R).
Inderbitzen made it a three-rider affair with two minutes remaining on the clock and immediately started trading haymakers with Wiles and Rush. He dove into the lead entering Turn 1 on the final lap in hopes of taking the win in his first attempt on RMR machinery.
However, Kitchen reeled in the group just in time to grab the draft as the last lap got underway. He then somehow proceeded to leap from fourth place to first as the group slid into Turn 3 and then got a stellar launch off of Turn 4 as he raced to the checkered flag.
That exit proved just strong enough to hold off Wiles, who came up 0.019 seconds short of drafting back past at the stripe. Rush finished third, a scant 0.083 seconds off the winner himself.
After the race, an ecstatic Kitchen said, “I wouldn’t say it was a strategy (to hang back and strike late) — that was just kind of pure luck. I came from the third row and did not think I was going to have a shot at the win. But those last five laps I thought, ‘I might actually have a shot at this.’
“In Turn 3, I got a really good draft around all three of them and thought, ‘This is going to be good.’ I knew I had to sweep down the front straightaway so they didn’t have a good chance to draft me, and I heard them coming around the outside. I gave that Vance & Hines twist throttle just a little bit more and got it done.”
Inderbitzen came home fourth, another 0.041 seconds back. Former class champ Ryan Wells (No. 94 Waters Autobody Racing/D&D PowerSports KTM 450 SX-F) rounded out the top five.
Kitchen’s win actually sees him leading the early-season title fight with 52 points to Rush’s 49. Max Whale (No. 18 Coondoo Cattle Co./Australian Road Services Kawasaki KX450F), the winner of the season opener, is third with 48 points after finishing seventh on Friday night.
AFT Production Twins
After logging support-class podium finishes for years, Ben Lowe (No. 25 Roof Systems of Dallas/Bruce Lowe Excavating Yamaha MT-07) finally broke through to claim his maiden American Flat Track victory in Friday evening’s AFT Production Twins Main Event.
Lowe put himself at the front of a five-rider pack early and continued to press from there as that group slowly whittled down over the course of the ten-minute plus two-lap shootout. The Michigan native overhauled pre-race favorite Chad Cose (No. Wally Brown Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R) in the race’s opening stages before falling into a back-and-forth tilt with Nick Armstrong (No. 60 Lessley Brothers Racing/Competitive SheetMetal Yamaha MT-07).
Unfortunately, Armstrong’s hopes of securing his first win since standing atop the GNC2 podium at the 2015 Indy Mile ended in disappointment due to a mechanical issue with less than two minutes on the clock.
Lowe’s career-first victory wasn’t assured quite yet, however, as a streaking James Rispoli(No. 43 Latus Motors Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R) was still on his case.
Rispoli, who was the fastest qualifier, was forced to use a provisional after his bike failed while leading his Semi. Despite starting dead last, the former road racing superstar made up serious ground in a hurry with a brave exploitation of the high line on the opening lap, climbing from 17th to 4th in a matter of three corners.
After Cose slipped off the groove and dropped several bike lengths back, Rispoli spent the bulk of the race in third, sitting just inches behind the lead.
While Lowe worked up an advantage late, Rispoli made one final push on the final lap but came up 0.524 seconds short of taking his first dirt track win in over a decade. Cose rounded out the podium in third.
Lowe said, “It’s amazing. We’re just a small, little family race team with the help of Jerry Stinchfield at Roof Systems. He really believed in me these past two years and picked me up. It’s finally all paying off. This was a long time coming, and everything finally just fell together perfectly. It’s great to be up here.”
Rispoli’s third consecutive runner-up result moves him into the championship lead with four points on reigning class champion Cory Texter (No. 1 G&G Racing/Roof Systems Yamaha MT-07), who finished fifth on the night, one position behind ‘19 runner-up Ryan Varnes (No. 68 RVR/RoyBuilt Don’s Kawasaki Ninja 650).
Click here for complete 2020 AFT Indy Mile Results.