Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) earned his 25th-career Grand National Championship Mile victory in split-second fashion in Saturday night’s Red Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle of Lexington at the Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky.
The triumph proved to be the latest round in a season of Progressive American Flat Track, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, that has taken shape as a heavyweight title fight between reigning Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle champ Mees and his ascending challenger, points leader Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT).
The two broke free from the start and spent the next 14 minutes plus two laps testing each other in preparation for the decisive final lap. The cagey Mees sat in tight formation behind his young rival during the waning laps before finally striking as the two sprinted into Turn 3 for the final time.
He then struck and, despite suffering a couple small slides on exit, had the steam to hold on to the checkered flag by a minuscule 0.042 seconds.
The victory was Mees’ fifth in six attempts at the Red Mile. It also saw him join legends Bubba Shobert and Bryan Smith for third all-time in career Mile wins.
Mees said, “We were playing cat-and-mouse a little bit, and he was definitely strong in some areas…I just knew what I wanted to do there on the last lap and made it work, really. It’s good to win those Miles like old school where it’s there right at the line.”
For Daniels, it was the fourth time this season he’s finished a close second to Mees. But any sense of frustration that may have otherwise started to creep in was overcome by the reality that he continues to hold the points advantage due to a season-long run of firsts and seconds that he kept intact.
The fight for third was a spirited four-way affair, involving Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke), Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750), JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT), and Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Indian FTR750).
Bauman again showed off an ideal pace nearly on par with that of Mees and Daniels when everything worked just perfectly aboard an unruly machine that made that perfection impossible to attain with any consistency. Still, its impressive motor provided him with the tools necessary to secure a third podium of 2023 with Beach fractionally behind in fourth, followed by Fisher and Vanderkooi.
Kolby Carlile (No. 36 G&G Racing/Yamaha Racing Yamaha MT-07), who ran third on the opening laps, rebounded from an early mistake to overhaul Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) for seventh by 0.050 seconds at the stripe.
Jeffrey Lowrey (No. 223 Lowery Racing/Gray Hogs Yamaha MT-07) and Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Fastrack Racing/2 Wheelz KTM 790 Duke) completed the top ten.
While Mees chipped off another four points, Daniels still boasts a 16-point advantage (180-164). Third-ranked Bauman is nearly two full races back of first at 131.
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) added more evidence to support the old racing adage that a rider’s second win comes a whole lot easier than their first with a triumphant run in Saturday’s Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER pack war.
A seesawing battle that expanded to a nine-rider lead pack as the pivotal final two laps opened, the race for the win appeared almost certain to be decided amongst Turner Honda teammates Lowe and Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) and the Estenson Racing Yamaha duo of Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) and Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F).
Sacramento winner Drane looked like the odds-on favorite due to his optimal blend of high-speed chops, low-pro aerodynamics, ultra-light weight, and big-time horsepower. However – despite repeatedly demonstrating the capacity to blast up to first from three or four positions back seemingly at will – the Aussie’s last-lap strategy was blown up by a lapped rider as the huge lead group dove into Turn 3 for the final time.
As a result, Drane could finish no better than third with Lowe and Saathoff handing Honda a hard-earned 1-2.
Whether or not Drane might have been able to run the Hondas down with a cleaner run is as impossible to guess as it is irrelevant at this point. Ultimately, Lowe put himself in the perfect position to capitalize in the chaos and scoop his second-career victory.
“It feels so great to come out on top,” Lowe said. “I knew I had to keep my corner speed up and that was the one thing I had going for me. Leading and going into (Turn) 3 was definitely my best option. I’m happy for the whole Turner Racing team. Everyone has put in so much effort. It’s unreal to think about the time that people put in and the dedication that they have.”
Brunner finished just 0.057 seconds back off his teammate but once again came up just short of the podium He was followed home by Red Bull KTM teammates Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) and Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) – Kopp closing in from a distant ninth to make himself a factor late.
Kopp continues to lead in his title defense with 151 points to his credit. However, Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F) was shuffled back to seventh in the melee, a development that allowed Saathoff to join him level at 136 points. Whale is fourth at 130, followed by Brunner (123), Lowe (117), and Drane (105).
Progressive American Flat Track will conclude its midseason run of three consecutive Miles with the much-awaited return of the DuQuoin Mile at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds on June 17 in DuQuoin, Illinois. Visit https://www.tixr.com/groups/trackenterprises/events/duquoin-mile-70363 to reserve your seats today.
For those that can’t catch the live action from the circuit, FansChoice.tv is the live streaming home of Progressive AFT. Sign up now and catch every second of on-track action starting with Practice & Qualifying and ending with the Victory Podium at the end of the night at https://www.fanschoice.tv.
FOX Sports coverage of the Red Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle of Lexington, featuring in-depth features and thrilling onboard cameras, will premiere on FS1 on Sunday, June 11, at 10:30 a.m. ET (7:30 a.m. PT).
For more information on Progressive AFT visit https://www.americanflattrack.com.