After a 26-year absence, American Flat Track returns to Kentucky for the seventh round of the 2017 championship
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – June 1, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – After racing on the hallowed grounds of Springfield, Ill., American Flat Track will next head to uncharted territory for its first-ever stop at the Red Mile in Lexington, Ky., on June 3.
The Red Mile typically plays host to horse racing, but American Flat Track’s arrival will see the facility put to the test by a literal one-hundred-fold increase in horsepower in use on track at any given time.
For AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines points leader Bryan Smith (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) it’s now three down and either one, two, or three to go depending on the goal in question.
With a win this weekend at the Red Mile, the defending Grand National Champion will have swept four Miles in as many weeks to move equal to Ricky Graham for fourth all-time in Mile victories at 23. Two weeks after that, he’d then be in position to tear through the season’s run of five consecutive midseason Miles unblemished at the OKC Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle. And should he accomplish that, Smith could conceivably conquer all six Miles on the 2017 calendar to tie Bubba Shobert for third all-time in Mile wins (25) with a late-season victory at Harley-Davidson Springfield Mile II.
But before we start editing the record books, consider the almost nonexistent margin by which Smith’s three-for-three Mile mark this season has been built; 0.087 seconds is the difference between Smith’s perfect Mile record this season and zero wins on the big tracks. It would be optimistic to expect a victory at the Red Mile this weekend to come any easier.
“It’s going to be a new track for everyone, so it’s going to be interesting,” Smith said. “I don’t think it’s going to get that groove that we’ve all been riding on these last three weeks where we’re all kind of waiting in the corners and then drafting going down the straightaways. I think there’s going to be multiple lines there, which will make it better. Guys like (Brad) Baker will be stronger there – but yeah, I think I can keep winning.”
Leading the charge to put an end to Smith’s streak is his identically-armed rival, Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing Scout FTR750). Mees has worked his way through a series of strategies to defeat Smith and appears closer than ever to hitting upon a winning formula.
Despite Smith’s four-race win streak (dating back to the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Half-Mile that preceded the current stretch of Miles), Mees sits just 10 points back in the title fight with two wins, three runner-ups, and a third on the year.
Mees said, “Kentucky is a new track for all of us, and I like coming into something fresh. Losing by inches last weekend at Springfield is hard to swallow, especially feeling that good. I know the Half-Miles are more my thing, but I do want to win some Miles this year. So with three left, I have got to get it done. Bryan has been riding very well and seems to make sure he is there at the line on the 25th lap regardless of how he is doing throughout the day or the race.”
Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Estenson Logistics Yamaha FZ-07) finally made good on the growing threat he’d teased in recent weeks to halt the Indian Wrecking Crew’s outright Mile dominance at Springfield. Halbert not only split the trio at the flag to prevent a third-consecutive Indian podium sweep, he even managed to lead two of the Main Event’s final three laps and put a genuine scare into the likes of Smith and Mees by posting the race’s fastest lap.
Halbert, who is ranked third in the points, has finished no lower than fourth since the season arrived at the Half-Mile and Mile venues.
Brad Baker is still seeking to claim his first victory since climbing aboard the No. 6 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750. He’s been knocking on the door for weeks now, and Smith singled Baker out as the rider whose style could be best suited for the Red Mile’s expected characteristics.
As one up-and-comer struggled, another stepped to the fore in Springfield. Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 Richie Morris Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650), who had been fifth in the points race, missed out on making the Main Event at Springfield by just 0.041 seconds. However, in his absence, Davis Fisher (No. 67 Bob Lanphere Beaverton Motorcycles Kawasaki Ninja 650) broke through with a deeply impressive outing. In the Main, Fisher nipped at the heels of the Indian Wrecking Crew and Halbert en route to a close fifth-place finish.
Several riders have the potential to upset the established order this weekend, including fifth-ranked Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Carver’s BBQ Kawasaki Ninja 650), and the works Harley-Davidson trio of Jake Johnson (No. 5 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R), Kenny Coolbeth (No. 2 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R), and Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R).
Kolby Carlile (No. 36 Parkinson Brothers Racing Honda CRF450R) heads into the Red Mile in the unfamiliar position of championship leader. Carlile has put himself there by logging consistently strong results all season long no matter the challenge put before him. He’ll be well motivated to cement his status as title favorite by claiming a first victory of 2017.
However, expect Shayna Texter (No. 52 Richie Morris Racing Honda CRF450R) to be out for revenge. She suffered at last weekend’s Springfield TT, but the Red Mile shifts the series back into her preferred zone. Should she pick up with a third consecutive Mile triumph, Texter will reclaim the championship lead no matter what Carlile does in response, as they’re separated by just a single point heading to Kentucky.
Third-ranked Brandon Price (No. 92 DPC Racing/Don’s Kawasaki KX450F) is within striking distance himself, currently just 10 points back of Carlile and nine off Texter.
And based on their respective recent forms at the big tracks, either Tristan Avery (No. 16 Ron Ayers Honda CRF450R) or Kevin Stollings (No. 99 Ben Evans Honda CRF450R) could easily step forward to secure their first victory of the year at the Red Mile as well.
In addition to the action-packed racing on the big track, there’s plenty of off-track fun for all ages. There will be local food truck fare and a beer garden serving local craft beers as well as live entertainment from the London, Kentucky band Frontier in the Indian Motorcycle of Lexington Fan Zone. For the kids, there’s the Strider Adventure Zone – a free ride and play area for kids 12 and under open from 2:00 until 6:00 p.m. There will also be two opportunities throughout the day to win a Strider bike.
On-track action begins with the AFT Twins and AFT Singles practice sessions at 2:00 p.m. ET (11:00 a.m. PT) with Opening Ceremonies commencing at 6:00 p.m. ET (3:00 p.m. PT). Tickets for the Red Mile are now on sale and can be purchased at https://www.showclix.com/event/red-mile. Kids 12 and under are free with an adult paid admission. Military and first responders get 50 percent off general admission.
Catch all the Action on NBCSN and FansChoice.tv
As part of American Flat Track’s television broadcast package with NBCSN, the cable network will air the Red Mile in a primetime telecast in August. The one-hour show will feature flag-to-flag coverage of both Main Events along with exclusive features giving fans a behind-the-scenes window into the sport. The complete television schedule for American Flat Track on NBCSN will be released in the coming weeks.
Live streaming coverage of every second from the Red Mile can be viewed on FansChoice.tv at www.fanschoice.tv/watch-live/american-flat-track.
Source: American Flat Track