Given the dominance of the Indian squad and Mees’ perfect start to the season, this news sent shockwaves through the speedway world and, unsurprisingly, put a black cloud over Mees and his team. Was this a one-time thing? Was there more to this? It wasn’t surprising for questions of all kinds to be raised in the midst of such a major penalty.
Instead of a perfect 2-0 start to the season and a commanding lead in the points, Mees instead entered Saturday’s race from the Texas Motor Speedway Half Mile fourth in the championship standings, 11 points out of the lead. When the dust settled that night, Mees completed his redemption. He made a definitive statement and silenced the critics by adding yet another victory under his belt, and reclaimed control of the points lead in doing so. Mees had clearly gotten the last word in the controversy and, in turn, forced everyone to move on.
While Mees’ path to victory at the Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys Texas Half Mile was essentially drama free, the night was rampant with shocking outcomes that are sure to play a significant role in the title fight. Several of the top competitors in the premier AFT Twins division were faced with adversity and ultimately eliminated from contention prior to the Main Event, notably Mees’ Indian teammate and fellow Monster Energy rider Brad Baker, in addition to Bryan Smith, the third member of the Indian Wrecking Crew.
Baker, who missed this race a year ago with injury, suffered a hard crash in his heat race that and was unable to continue. He was later transported to a nearby hospital for further evaluation and was diagnosed with a concussion, leaving his status for the next race up in the air. Smith tucked the front end of his Indian in Semi 1 and ignited a multi-bike incident, while entering point leader Kenny Coolbeth Jr. straight up failed to transfer out of Semi 2.
Given all the chaos of the last 24 hours the stage was set for Mees to easily reassert his control of the AFT Championship, and he wasn’t about to let that opportunity slip away. After he was squeezed out of the start of the Main Event, Mees was forced to settle into third early on, but it was only a matter of time before the cream rose to the top and the Monster rider put his Indian Scout back on point. He easily moved past Chad Cose for second and then stalked leader Briar Bauman for a couple laps before making the winning pass on Lap 4. Once out front Mees established an insurmountable advantage and led the final 15 laps of the 20-lap Main Event, taking the checkered flag 1.3 seconds ahead of Bauman.
“First off, thoughts and prayers to all the downed riders. I don’t know the condition of any of them, but we had a lot of downed riders tonight and nobody wants to see that. On my end, we just came out and were really focused on getting this win, and we made it happen. We were fast right out of the gate. Huge hats off to my entire team for just sticking behind me and making it happen for me week-in and week-out. The Indian motorcycle is a phenomenal bike for me.”
Mees returned to the top spot in the AFT Twins standings with the victory, and now holds a four-point lead over Henry Wiles, who finished fifth. Bauman’s runner-up finish moved him into third, six points behind Mees.
AFT Twins Results
1. Jared Mees, Indian Motorcycle Racing
2. Briar Bauman, Kawasaki
3. Chad Cose, Indian
4. Brandon Robinson, Harley-Davidson
5. Henry Wiles, Indian
DNQ Brad Baker, Indian Motorcycle Racing
AFT Twins Standings
1. Jared Mees, Indian Motorcycle Racing – 50
2. Henry Wiles, Kawasaki – 46
3. Briar Bauman, Kawasaki – 44
4. Kenny Coolbeth Jr., Indian – 36
5. Jeffrey Carver Jr., Harley-Davidson – 33
9. Brad Baker, Indian Motorcycle Racing – 27