Peoria, Ill., Aug. 18—Long live the King of Peoria! “King Henry” Wiles (No. 17 Bandit Industries/Wilco Racing/Willy Built Kawasaki Ninja 650) extended his reign in Saturday’s 72nd annual Peoria TT presented by The Country Saloon by claiming an astonishing 14th consecutive victory in the prestigious and legendary race.
Wiles was certainly forced to earn it on Saturday. In the race’s early stages he found himself trapped behind three AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines superstars with prior TT race wins: Briar Bauman (No. 14 Zanotti Racing Indian Scout FTR750), Jake Johnson (No. 5 Estenson Racing/McCandless Truck Center Indian Scout FTR750) and Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing SDI Scout FTR750).
Wiles made relatively quick work of Mees and Johnson, but Bauman put up a serious fight for the lead. Wiles tracked Bauman down and was breathing down his neck by lap five. But it wasn’t until the end of lap eight he finally found an opening, slashing beneath Bauman as they exited the final corner. Bauman immediately mounted a counterattack, storming back in front of Wiles as they negotiated the very next corner. Wiles was ready for the move, however, holding his line and reclaiming the position moments later.
From there Wiles proved too strong, slowly and steadily building an unassailable advantage en route to the historic win. His 14th triumph at the Peoria Motorcycle Club’s Race Park puts him ahead of the “Prince of Peoria” Chris Carr for most ever American Flat Track wins at the venue.
Bauman came home clear in second, followed by Johnson, who just held off Mees at the flag for third. Up-and-coming TT hero Hayden Gillim (No. 169 Indian/Cycle World/S&S Cycle Scout FTR750) rounded out the top five.
After the race Wiles said, “I found myself as far back as I ever have in a Main here. I was able to wiggle my way through fairly quickly. Briar had a really good pace today, and he got going really quick at the front. I had to pick my way through. I got about a guy a lap getting to him. It was great having everyone behind me—the whole Peoria Motorcycle Club and so many fans cheering me on. It feels so awesome.”
Not only did today’s win keep Wiles’ remarkable win streak intact, it also kept his slim title hopes alive, if only just. Mees leads him by 92 points (305-213) with four races and 100 points left in play on the 2018 slate. Wiles is the sole rider remaining with even a remote mathematical chance of preventing the reigning Grand National Champion from repeating.
American Flat Track heads to Springfield, Illinois on September 1 and 2 for the Springfield Short Track and the 100th running of the Harley-Davidson Springfield Mile II at the legendary Illinois State Fairgrounds. Known as the ‘Fastest Mile in the world,’ the Springfield Mile promises some of the best bar-to-bar and drafting action of the season. Tickets for both events are available here, and are absolute must-see flat track experiences.
If you can’t make the race or watch live on FansChoice.tv, be sure to catch NBCSN’s feature coverage of the Springfield Short Track and 100th running of the Springfield Mile on September 22 at 2:30 pm ET (11:30 am PT).