Sacramento, Calif., May 19—The fabled history of the Harley-Davidson Sacramento Mile presented by Cycle Gear saw another outstanding entry added to its annals on Saturday night at Cal Expo Fairgrounds, with three of American Flat Track’s all-time greats taking center stage.
Following an initial feeling-out stage in which a handful of AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines competitors made their presence felt at the front, defending Grand National Champion Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing SDI Scout FTR750) and retiring legend Kenny Coolbeth Jr. (No. 2 Nila Racing, Columbia Avionics Indian Scout FTR750) broke free from the pack.
The two superstars stretched their advantage over third to nearly two seconds while setting the stage for an epic showdown to the checkered flag.
However, Bryan Smith (No. 4 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750)—owner of seven straight Sacramento Mile victories—simply refused to be left out of that fight. He clawed and scratched his way into contention, officially turning the race into a three-way shootout over the contest’s nail-biting final five miles.
In the end, series steamroller Mees overcame Coolbeth, Smith, sentiment and the storybook finish to notch up what’s already his fifth victory of the young 2018 season.
After scooping up career win #35—his first at the Sacramento Mile—Mees said, “I thought I heard someone behind me and figured it was Bryan. I thought he was just setting me up, and then Coolbeth came by me once. I looked back and we had a big gap, but then Bryan reeled us in. It’s phenomenal what we’re doing right now, week-in and week-out. It’s definitely tough to do. Hats off to Kenny and Bryan. Kenny is one of my heroes. To be up on the podium with him is pretty cool.”
Coolbeth attempted a last-lap strike but fell 0.018 seconds short at the checkered flag. And while Smith was disappointed not to have extended his Sacramento Mile win streak to a nearly unfathomable eight straight, his heroic come-from-behind performance was all the more inspiring considering it was his return ride after breaking his left fibula just three weeks back at the Texas Half-Mile.
It seems the extended Indian Wrecking Crew is in need of an even more intimidating moniker. In addition to works runners Mees (1st), Smith (3rd), and Brad Baker (No. 6 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) (4th), Coolbeth (2nd), Henry Wiles (No. 17 Wilco Racing/Willy Built/Bandit Industries Indian Scout FTR750) (5th), Davis Fisher (No. 67 RMR/Double D Performance Indian Scout FTR750) (6th) and Chad Cose (No. 49 Indian Motorcycle of Oklahoma City Scout FTR750) (7th) combined to claim the top seven positions on the night for Indian Motorcycle. Fisher, by the way, notched the fastest lap of the night.
Jake Johnson (No. 5 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07) was the best of the rest in eighth, with Briar Bauman (No. 14 Zanotti Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650) and Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R) completing the top ten.
The evening’s storylines were not monopolized by the top ten, however. In the what-might-have-been department, Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Roof-Systems/Indian of Metro Milwaukee Scout FTR750) saw his night come to an early conclusion—and with it, a strong bid at a Main Event victory ripped away. Carver was black-flagged at the tail-end of Semi 1 due to a smoking machine while holding down the race lead over Mees.
On a brighter note, Ronnie Jones (No. 266 Estenson Racing/Loral Lake Racing Indian Scout FTR750) reestablished his own record as the oldest rider to make an AFT Twins Main Event. 57-year-old Jones is the owner of 10 career AFT Twins victories, the first of which came almost four decades ago and the most recent nearly a quarter century back. He has qualified for AFT Twins Main Events across five different decades—the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, and ’10s. And Jones was not merely making up the numbers in Sacramento on Saturday night; he finished second to Coolbeth (a relative youngster at 41) in Heat 3 and finished 14th in the Main.
From hallowed ground to hallowed ground. American Flat Track will arrive in Springfield, Ill., in a handful of days for a packed Memorial Day weekend of racing. On Saturday, May 26, the AFT Singles competitors will clash in the Springfield TT. And on Sunday, May 27, the AFT Twins class will reach the midpoint in its run of five consecutive Miles with the Harley-Davidson Springfield Mile I. Live coverage can be viewed on FansChoice.tv beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET on Saturday and 10:00 a.m. ET on Sunday. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at Springfield Tix.