The American Flat Track Championship came to the Cal-Expo mile oval in Sacramento, California, for round five of the 18-round. The large crowd that nearly filled the grandstands witnessed what seems to be becoming the norm. Domination by the Indian Motorcycle Team, as for the third time in five races the three Indian team riders filled the podium.
Bryan Smith has now won the Sacramento mile on three different brands of motorcycles. He has won on a Harley-Davidson XR750, a Kawasaki Ninja and an Indian Scout FTR750. This win made seven in a row at Sacramento. Speaking of Harley-Davidsons, only two of them made the Sacramento main event. Factory Harley riders Brandon Robinson and Kenny Coolbeth finished ninth and 16th respectively on their still-developing XG750Rs.
Junior member of the modern day “Indian Wrecking Crew” Brad Baker was looking for his first win since joining the Indian Motorcycle team as his two teammates Bryan Smith and Jared Mees have each scored two wins. Much like last week’s mile race in Phoenix, Baker’s speed has been negated by his lack of experience.
The Indian team led the 25-lap Sacramento main into turn one and by lap five it was obvious they would be fighting for the win. Baker charged to the front, but both Smith and Mees took their turns at the point as well.Known as a “Mile Master,” Smith somehow finds himself in the right place at the right time in these high-speed chess matches. Today would be no different.
“On the miles you’ve just got to react,” Smith said. “When you’re out front you are kind of a sitting duck. I was up there for a minute and realized that I needed to hang back.”
Baker at least had enough experience to know that he didn’t have the race in hand despite leading the trio across the finish line multiple times.
“I could pass them to the start/finish line, and I tried that out a couple times when Jared and Bryan got by me,” Baker said. “Every time I had the lead off of four I felt like I was getting to the start finish line before them. I didn’t know if I was actually controlling the race or if I was just the mouse being chased around. It turns out that I was the mouse being chased around. Those guys definitely had that in mind.”
The Sacramento track had developed a narrow groove and was very unforgiving of even the slightest miscue.
“I was giving it all I had, but at the same time, you weren’t able to give it all you had everywhere,” Baker said. “You had to ride with patience. You had to kind of go slow to go fast in some areas, because if you pushed too hard you would spin. Push as hard as you can, but try to keep the wheels in line and the power to the ground as much as you could.”
It all came down to the last lap.
“The plan was to cruise for most of the race and then make something happen on the last couple laps,” Smith said. “That’s exactly how it all played out.”
“My plan was going pretty good for a little while. I could tell that Bryan did not want to lead because he would let off going into turn one, with two laps to go, just wanting us to go on by,” Baker said. “Eventually you just have to take the bait and go on by or we are all just going slow.”
“I felt like I had a really good pace going. On the last corner, Brad kind of spun it up, and it killed his drive and it killed my drive,” Mees said. “Bryan was able to swoop by both of us going into three. I kind of wanted to run second off of turn four against Brad or whoever really. I just got shuffled back to third.”
When it was all said and done, Smith had come away with his third consecutive win of the 2017 season, Mees captured a close second and Baker’s solid race was turned into a third place finish.
“I’m definitely tired of getting second and third,” Baker said. “I’m ready to get to a couple racetracks like Lima where they have a cushion and some roughness. You can go up high. Those are my types of racetracks, where you can really get creative.”
Sammy Halbert (Estenson Logistics Yamaha) was just able to hold off Jeffrey Carver (Ben Evans Racing / Carver’s BBQ Kawasaki) a little over five seconds behind the leaders.
Shawn Baer (McNews Automotive KTM) was alone in sixth as Davis Fisher (Bob Lanphere Beaverton Motorcycles Kawasaki) finished seventh.
Jake Shoemaker (Weirbach Racing Kawasaki) led the only Harley-Davidson Factory bike to see the finish line. Brandon Robinson finished ninth. Jarod Vanderkooi (Richie Morris Racing / McElroy Packaging) filled out the top ten.
In the 15 lap AFT Singles Main Kevin Stollings (Ben Evans Racing / Dave’s Cycles Honda) looked to be the man to beat as he quickly took command.
Despite pressure from both Parker Norris and Cameron Smith, Stollings held tight. Last week’s winner, Shayna Texter (Richie Morris Racing / McElroy Packaging Honda) had slipped through the field and challenged for the lead.
With three laps to go Texter grabbed the lead only to have Tristan Avery (Ron Ayers Racing Honda) snatch it away. Texter was able to fight back, but the pace of the race had been too much for Stollings’ rear tire and he was forced to settle for third.
Parker Norris (Goodroe Racing Honda) and Kolby Carlile (Parkenson Brothers Honda) filled the top five positions.
2017 American Flat Track Series
Cal Expo State Fairgrounds
Results: May 20, 2017 (Round 5 of 18)
AFT Pro Twins Main
1. Bryan Smith-Ind
2. Jared Mees-Ind
3. Brad Baker-Ind
4. Sammy Halbert-Yam
5. Jeffrey Carver Jr.-Kaw
6. Shawn Baer-KTM
7. Davis Fisher-Kaw
8. Jake Shoemaker-Kaw
9. Brandon Robinson-H-D
10. Jarod Vanderkooi-Kaw
11. Mikey Rush-Yam
12. Cory Texter-Kaw
13. Nick Armstrong-Yam
14. Ryan Wells-Kaw
15. Austin Helmholz-Kaw
16. Kenny Coolbeth-H-D
17. Chad Cose-Kaw
18. Briar Bauman-Kaw
AFT Pro Singles Main
1. Shayna Texter-Hon
2. Tristan Avery-Hon
3. Kevin Stollings-Hon
4. Parker Norris-Hon
5. Kolby Carlile-Hon
6. Cameron Smith-Hon
7. Brandon Price-Kaw
8. John Vanderlaan-Hon
9. Ben Lowe-Hon
10. Wyatt Anderson-KTM
11. Tanner Dean-Hon
12. Dylan Bell-Hon
13. Michael Inderbitzin-Hon
14. Michael Rodrigues-Hon
15. Beau Thompson-Hon
16. Michael Hill-Hon
17. Damon Coca-Hon
18. Oliver Brindley-Kaw