Courtesy of American Flat Track
Bryan Smith earns Harley-Davidson's first Mile podium for XG750
Henry Wiles (No. 17 RMR Honda/Honda Talon CRF450R) earned his first victory since transitioning to the AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys class following one of the most entertaining races in recent memory.
As many as ten riders still held a shot at the win as the clock showed 0:00, setting up an epic final two laps to decide the race.
No matter how massive the pack, Wiles ran near the front throughout, swapping the lead on countless occasions with last night’s surprise winner, Brandon Kitchen (No. 105 Donley Excavating/TCD Suspension Honda CRF450F), former teammate Cole Zabala (No. 51 Cornerstone Masonry/B&M Masonry CRF450R) and prodigy Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F).
Long-time AFT Singles standouts Shayna Texter (No. 52 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) and Ryan Wells (No. 94 Waters Autobody Racing/D&D PowerSports KTM 450 SX-F) emerged late, both flashing the potential to steal the win away in the same fashion that Kitchen had the night before.
As the final lap played out, it became increasingly obvious the race would come down to a final straight shootout between Wiles and Zabala. Wiles worked hard to open up a small advantage through Turns 1, 2 and 3 but appeared vulnerable after making a slight bobble while exiting 4. Zabala pulled right up behind Wiles and then swung out of his draft with the checkered flag in sight. While he managed to speed up alongside his opponent’s bike, he didn’t have quite enough steam to complete the winning maneuver.
Wiles said, “We had some guys up there in the mix in the Main Event we hadn’t really seen all day. Cole was riding the wheels off his bike. I’m really happy to see him up here on the podium.
“The guys at RMR and American Honda have been giving us a good effort, and it showed up tonight. Everybody had been saying I’m kind of a big boy and genetically at a disadvantage, but we got it done tonight. I’m really stoked that I could come through.”
Despite narrowly missing out on the win, Zabala’s eye-opening effort still qualifies as a breakthrough performance; it not only marked his first career AFT podium, but his first-ever top-five in the series.
Texter finished third, with Daniels, Wells and Kitchen taking fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively.
After an unfortunate mechanical, title hopeful Mikey Rush (No. 15 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) finished an uncharacteristic 15th. As a result, Wiles now leads Kitchen 68-65 with Texter jumping up to third with 58 points.
AFT Production Twins
James Rispoli (No. 43 Latus Motors Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R) got a second chance to end his run of AFT Production Twins second-place finishes. He responded by winning by more than 12 seconds in an absolute show of force.
"The Rocket” had been knocking on the door ever since returning to dirt track in 2019 after assembling a national championship-winning roadracing career. He notched up four podiums a year ago, and opened his 2020 campaign with three consecutive runner-up finishes.
Rispoli established himself as the heavy favorite on Saturday night, topping both qualifying sessions and running away with his Semi. Despite the lofty expectations set by his pace, he was quickly swallowed up and shuffled back to fourth as the Main Event got underway.
The race was completely reset, however, following a Michael Inderbitzin (No. 54 Weirbach Racing/Rekluse Kawasaki Ninja 650) crash. And this time around, Rispoli stole the holeshot and quickly erased any aspirations of victory his rivals might have entertained as he disappeared into the distance.
Rispoli was consistently a full second per lap better than the rest of the field, ultimately taking the checkered flag with a massive 12.396-second margin of victory.
The win was Rispoli’s first in American Flat Track competition in more than a decade. Afterward, he was suitably excited: “I’m so stoked! I’m so fired up, I lost my voice on the cooldown lap. It’s been so long since I won… I’ve got to thank George Latus for putting the team together, ProBEAM, all the guys on the team for just getting through the grind, and Vance & Hines for giving us a rocketship.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever had this big of a lead in my entire career. That’s what we want to do -- we want to stamp our authority. They say it’s hard but when everything is flowing it’s easy. I’m just pumped!”
The race for second was considerably less predictable with as many as six riders in contention for the position deep into the contest. Friday winner Ben Lowe (No. 25 Roof Systems of Dallas/Bruce Lowe Excavating Yamaha MT-07) and 2015 GNC2 Indy victor Nick Armstrong (No. 60 Lessley Brothers Racing/Competitive SheetMetal Yamaha MT-07) resumed last night’s intense scrap as they repeatedly went side-by-side angling for the spot.
At least they did until both riders found themselves outclassed by reigning class champion Cory Texter (No. 1 G&G Racing/Roof Systems Yamaha MT-07), who sailed past and then eked out a gap on the final lap to finish as the race’s runner-up.
Armstrong held on for third to score his first AFT podium result since the aforementioned ‘15 Indy win. Chad Cose (No. Wally Brown Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R) came home fourth, edging Lowe at the stripe by 0.019 seconds.
Texter’s late-race flurry helped minimize the championship damage, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Rispoli from taking a commanding lead of the early-season title fight. Rispoli now leads with 85 points to Texter’s 76 while Lowe sits third with 68.
Both of this weekend’s races will air on NBCSN, with the Indy Mile I airing on Thursday, August 27, starting at 1:00 a.m/10:00 p.m., and the Indy Mile II to follow on Saturday, August 29, at 12:00 a.m. ET/9:00 p.m. PT. The broadcasts will include exclusive features, cutting-edge aerial drone and onboard footage, and the expert commentary of AFT legend Chris Carr.
American Flat Track will follow up two days of racing at the Indy Mile with a Springfield tripleheader. The AFT Singles will kick the weekend off in Springfield, Illinois, with the Springfield ST on Friday, September 4. After that, the AFT SuperTwins and AFT Production Twins will take over for two days of racing at the “World’s Fastest Mile,” with the Springfield Mile I on Saturday, September 5, and the Springfield Mile II on Sunday, September 6. Live coverage of the entire weekend’s racing activities will be available on any device for less than $1 per event via TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.