LIMA, Ohio (June 24, 2017) – The 2017 edition of the Lima Half-Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle had it all: intense race action, dramatic twists and turns with massive championship implications, and an underdog winner.
Round 9 of the American Flat Track schedule had all the makings of a promoter’s dream, however racer-promoter Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing Scout FTR750) was helpless to do anything but watch from the fences as Briar Bauman (No. 14 Zanotti Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650) delivered a virtuoso performance to reign supreme at the Lima Half-Mile.
Mees, who came into the event as the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines championship leader, was assessed a ten-second penalty for jumping the start not once, but twice, in his Semi. That added time pushed him down from fourth position to 11th – and consequently, on the outside of the Main Event looking in.
But even the red-hot Mees at his home track would have found Bauman nearly impossible to contend with on this night. The 2012 GNC Rookie of the Year crushed the competition in both his Heat and Semi, storming around the pea-gravel on the high line with apparent ease.
Bauman then set about doing the same right from the start of the Main Event. After he had worked up an advantage of more than three seconds, a red flag gave his battered foes a shot at redemption.
Undeterred, Bauman promptly tore open a near-identical advantage following the restart, eventually backing down to a 2.793-second margin of victory after tangling with a lapper on the final lap.
The victory was the third of Bauman’s premier-class career and his first taken aboard a fire-breathing twin. The Kawasaki-mounted win also marked the end of Indian’s season-long victory streak while also bringing Harley-Davidson’s 21-race unbeaten streak at the Lima Half-Mile to a halt in the process.
In a touching display of sportsmanship, practically the entire field came by to offer their heartfelt congratulations to the winner.
An emotional Bauman said, “I can’t even put it in to words… I’m just really proud to get this win. I put a lot into it. I can’t thank the team enough for believing in me, and Dave Zanotti for giving me the opportunity.
“I kid you not – when I saw five (laps) to go, I never started counting down so slowly in my life. I didn’t want to look back because I was sure they’d be right behind me. I was happy to bring it home and get my first Twins’ Main. This was something you dream of your whole life, and you question if it’s going to happen or not. I’m happy it actually happened.”
Mees responded to his difficult evening with grace: “It was my fault; there’s no one to blame but myself… The rulebook is clear as day, black and white. They added 10 seconds to my time, and that pushed me out of the Main Event. It’s very unfortunate. My wife and I promoted the heck out of this event, and I definitely wanted to be out there racing. I felt awesome in the Semi, but rules are rules, and that’s the way it is.”
While Bauman was in a class of his own, Brad Baker (No. 6 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) and Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Carver’s BBQ Kawasaki Ninja 650) entertained the Allen County Fairgrounds faithful after the restart. The two ran intersecting lines in their fight for the podium, repeatedly trading second and third place. The final position swap fell in Baker’s favor, and he secured the runner-up result over Carver by .127 of a second at the checkered flag.
Baker said, “That was a wild Lima Half-Mile for me tonight. We made some changes after the Semi and the Indian Motorcycle backed by Allstate was working a lot better. I made a charge up to second, but I have to take my hats off to Briar and Zanotti Racing – they were on it tonight and Briar rode like an animal.”
Third-placed Carver said, “Oh man – it brought me back to amateur national days like in ’07. Brad and I have been battling it out since we were on 85s. We were running opposite lines so we were trying to set each other up like a chess match. It was so good. I was getting roosted hard, ripping tear-offs, bucking around, and almost getting into the fence, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Mees wasn’t the only title hopeful to suffer from heartbreak in Ohio. Two-time Lima Half-Mile winner Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Estenson Logistics Yamaha FZ-07) ran in third until the red flag, however, he was unable to make the restart due to a mechanical issue.
In his absence, Davis Fisher (No. 67 Bob Lanphere Beaverton Motorcycles Kawasaki Ninja 650) earned fourth – the best result of his AFT Twins’ career. He was followed closely by Henry Wiles (No. 17 DPC Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650) as Kawasaki not only took top honors at the Lima Half-Mile, but garnered four of the spots in the top five.
Bryan Smith (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750) retook possession of the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines championship lead, although he was unable to fully capitalize on Mees’ misfortune. Smith finished in sixth, his worst result of 2017, but it was still enough to slide five points back out in front of Mees (182-177).
One week after picking up his first-career AFT Singles podium, Parker Norris (No. 24 Goodroe Racing Honda CRF450R) broke through in an even bigger way, winning the Lima Half-Mile.
Norris’ victory followed a similar shape as Bauman’s in the premier class; he opened up a big lead early only to see it erased by a red flag, and then reassembled it following the restart.
However, unlike Bauman, Norris’ line went away from him, and he was chased back down by the streaking Kevin Stollings (No. 99 Ben Evans Honda CRF450R) late in the race. The two tussled over the final few laps, but Norris managed to hang on for the win by .155 seconds in the end.
Norris said, “We were going good until the restart, but I was struggling after that. Kevin started gaining on me big time. I just gave it more gas, rode the low line on the last lap and pulled it off.”
Kyle Johnson (No. 77 Parkinson Brothers Racing Honda CRF450R) finished in third to claim his first podium result of 2017.
Title leader Shayna Texter (No. 52 Richie Morris Racing Honda CRF450R) got clipped on the original start and found herself buried down in tenth for much of the Main. However, a strong restart allowed her to make a late push up to sixth at the flag, finishing just one spot behind now-second ranked Brandon Price (No. 92 DPC Racing/Don’s Kawasaki KX450F).
An unlucky Kolby Carlile (No. 36 Parkinson Brothers Racing Honda CRF450R) failed to make the Main Event after his bike’s exhaust fell off while he was running in the lead of his Semi.
Texter now leads with 142 points to Price’s 120 and Carlile’s 118.
The Lima Half-Mile will air on NBCSN on Thursday, August 31, at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. Catch the highlights on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AmericanFlatTrack/videos/1568266716540760/) and YouTube (https://youtu.be/8AUvITK8V-0).
American Flat Track will next travel to Elbridge, New York, on July 8, for the Rolling Wheels Half-Mile, the second of three-straight midseason Half-Miles on the 2017 calendar. Live coverage can be viewed on FansChoice.tv on Saturday beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET. Tickets are on sale and can be purchased at https://www.showclix.com/event/rolling-wheels-half-mile.
Fans can also keep up-to-date with race day action by following American Flat Track on Facebook (American Flat Track), Twitter (@AmericanFlatTrk) and Instagram (@AmericanFlatTrack).