So, it was supposed to be three nationals in three days, but it became four when rain on Saturday night into Sunday waterlogged the track. Fortunately, Monday is the US holiday of Labor Day, so the event was slid back one day.
Again, there were only two classes racing, the Twins (Elite, Expert, whatever you want to call them) and Production Twins. AFT Singles don't race on the miles.
Early on the track was marbly. Best Twins qualifying lap time was 0.5 slower than the best from Saturday's qualifying. Strangely, even on a marbly track Mees was 0.5s quicker than the best lap time in the Main on Saturday.
The big talking point was that Dalton Gauthier's best qualifying lap was 0.05s quicker on a Production Twin than the outright best Twins qualifying lap, which was set by Mees. Obviously, that means Gauthier was quicker on the 'old' SOHC XG750R than the new DOHC XG750Rs.
There was a glimpse of a huge crash involving Tanner Dean and Jeremy Higgins in Heat 2. Sadly, it sounds like Higgins has suffered head/brain injuries according to chatter on social media. Dean, I'm told suffered a broken wrist and ribs. These are unconfirmed reports. The race, as it does, went on.
The crash resulted in a huge delay, which is, of course, understandable, but this is a sport where every crash is on the track, there is no run-off, like on GPs or Superbikes, so how does that relate to AFT's desire to make flat track a live TV sport?
On the back of the accident delay there was another long delay for track prep. What will happen if the track needs prep but the TV says Go! Now! I guess planning can avoid this in most cases, but things are going to have to tighten up, because there were massive delays with riders sat in staging for 30 minutes or more. That would not happen in MotoGP.
The Harley duo of Gauthier and Rispoli went 1-2 in their heat race.
Gauthier was leading his semi until he suffered a mechanical on lap 2.
Cose and Varnes took over the lead, going back and forth until Cose cleared off and won. Carlile's good form continued. It would have been interesting to see how his season would have looked without his injury.
Semi 2 was a great race between Carlile and Rispoli, with the Yamaha rider coming out on top.
Early season leader Cory Texter qualified 8th, meaning a second row start, but...
One of the front row gave up the inside for an outside second row and Texter took it.
Gauthier used a provisional to get into the main. This caused some 'fans' to complain or wonder how. Apparently every Production Twins rider has one because it's a new class. Normally a rider would need to have scored points in the class the previous season to have 'earned' a provisional. There were two Production Twins races last year, but perhaps AFT made it clear. Still, it allowed the conspiracy theorists with an anti-HD agenda get their knickers in a twists. Gauthier would start 17th on the fourth row.
Gauthier's Vance and Hines/ Black Hills team rebuilt his bike with a new engine.
Jefferey Lowery's bike broke a chain on the sighting lap for the main and smashed its casing, dumping oil on the track.
Inderbitzen broke on the sighting lap.
Jeremiah Duffy was out too.
Carlile got the holeshot.
Gauthier went from 17th to 2nd on the first lap and entered turn 1 on lap 2 in first place. He's phenomenal.
Max Whale crashed and brought out the red flag with five laps to go.
As predicted on this blog, leafblowers are now a thing. Both Harleys were being blown cool as they awaited the restart.
The commentary team said Chris Carr was back on the scene helping Texter get back on the pace. Cory was up to fourth at the flag, slightly increasing his lead over pre-race challenger Ryan Varnes.
Ollie Brindley made the main, riding a Kawasaki 650 from, I think, Tommy Duma. He was having bike problems and finished 9th, solid, the last rider to finish. There were SEVEN DNF/DNS in this main, perhaps pointing to how hard two full mile race meetings in three days is on these bikes.
Gauthier #122 was off the front, looking to win three Nationals in four days, with Rispoli behind but not close enough to challenge when, with two laps to go, Gauthier's XG engine went south again.
Rispoli inherited the lead, but Carlile #136 passed him for the win. Cody Johncox #196 came in third.
Johncox also put in the fastest lap of the race, but every rider in the Expert Twins main bested his lap time.
Carlile set off on a three-man dude canoe lap of honour with Tim Estenson and his mechanic, former National #26, Brandon Bergen.
Cory Texter leads by 23pts from Carlile. Varnes is one point behind.
Heat 1 was wild. Davis Fisher shining again on a wild line, but Mees drafted him to perfection and took the win.
Despite having a best lap time slower than three other riders in his heat, Harley rider Vanderkooi won his heat. I keep picking out H-D riders because they factory has been off the pace for so long. Bronson Bauman was second.
Semi 1 and Sammy Halbert wins. Good performances earlier in the day are becoming more regular, but the XG has made just one podium this season (So Cal Half, Perris) out of 34 opportunities (2 riders, 17 rounds).
Bryan Smith's Howerton Kawasaki suffered a mechanical. He'd already used his provisional, he was out.
Semi 2 gave a glimpse of what would come in the main with a five rider pack racing for the win. Bronson pulled a great move to win.
Mees' Indian blew with him in contention.
The Estenson Yamahas are off the pace on miles. Smith's DNF let JD Beach into the main, but Jake Johnson missed the transfer.
The main was made up of 1 Yam, 2 HD and 14 FTR750s. 17 because Mees used his provisional. His good form and reliability meant it had lasted until the 17th race of the year.
Sammy Halbert was fastest qualifier.
Briar got the holeshot, with Stephen Vanderkuur #21 in second. Vanderkuur has only competed in three previous rounds, all on FTR750s, with a best result, this year, of 4th at the Red Mile.
Mees was up to 14th on the first lap, and didn't look like he would make it through as easily as Briar has on Saturday, from his 4th row start.
Vanderkooi was at 2nd, 3rd, but Sammy had been swallowed up.
Carver was 2nd on Saturday but never on the pace in this race.
Vanderkuur's bike broke on lap 9.
By lap 10 Mees is up to 4th in a pack of 8 or 9 vying for first.
Wiles, on a few weeks after surgery, is up to 3rd. The lead is changing every corner.
Sammy battled to the front and momentarily leads despite headshake.
Privateer Brandon Price gets up to second.
The last two laps are even more breathless. It looks like Sammy might do it. Bronson is bar-to-bar with er, I'm not sure, perhaps Price, I only saw it once and it was hectic.
Then the Terminator does it again, from 17th to a win. Mees is something else. Briar is 2nd, Bronson 3rd.
Somehow Sammy is 6th and Vanderkooi 8th despite them both being in podium contention.
Brandon Price is 2/100ths of a podium.
There is 0.653s between 1st and 10th at the flag. That's not lap times, that is elapsed time between Mees crossing for the win and Carver crossing for 10th.
It was the best mile race I've ever seen.
Mees wanted to take his wife and daughter on the lap of honour, but an AFT official stopped him. No toddlers on red hot racebikes. Makes sense.
Mees has won both 2019 Springfield Miles, his 14th Mile win. He has cut Briar's point lead to 25 with three races remaining.
Next round this Saturday! The Williams Grove Half-Mile, Pennsylvania. Briar won it in 2018 from Bronson and Mees. Tanner Dean won the Singles from Shayna and Mischler.
Photos courtesy of Scott hunter/AFT
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