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Briar Bauman Takes His Second Win of the Season at the Inaugural Buffalo Chip TT

| 8 August 2017 3:24 pm

AFT American Flat Track Championship Series
Round 13: Buffalo Chip TT at the Buffalo Chip Campgrounds

Courtesy of American Flat Track
Photo by Scott Hunter/American Flat Track
STURGIS, SD, AUG. 6, 2017

The racing at the inaugural Buffalo Chip TT, presented by Indian Motorcycle, was wild, befitting the massive crowd of Sturgis Rallygoers who provided a remarkable atmosphere for round 13 of the 2017 American Flat Track Championship Series.

Briar Bauman buffaloed them in Sturgis, where he took the AFT Twins victory despite crashing.

Briar Bauman buffaloed them in Sturgis, where he took the AFT Twins victory despite crashing.

AFT Twins
The AFT Twins, presented by Vance & Hines, main event was a most unpredictable affair, featuring three red flags, an all-but-certain winner who didn’t win, and a crasher who did win. Ultimately, the checkered flag went to Briar Bauman, on the number-14 Zanotti Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650; he secured his second victory of the season in a most impressive – albeit unusual – fashion.

However, even Bauman was forced to admit that the evening seemed destined to fall in the favor of American Flat Track’s all-time TT king, Henry Wiles, on the number-17 DPC Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650. Wiles started the main from pole and appeared to be well on his way to a record-extending 18th career TT win, even through a pair of red-flag incidents that twice reset rapidly expanding advantages to nil.

However, on the race’s third start, it was Wiles himself who forced the next appearance of the red flag. The TT specialist’s steed started leaking oil, and the second-place rider at the time, Bauman, was the first to fall in Wiles’ wake, bringing about an immediate stoppage to the action.

Wiles’ bike was too extensively damaged to repair in time to make the subsequent restart. Meanwhile, Bauman was promoted to the front of the field, despite his crash, as a result of his not having caused the incident. Bauman took full advantage of this final twist, breaking away from the rest of the pack to back up his Lima Half Mile victory in style.

“Dave Zanotti and the entire team deserve so much credit,” Bauman said. “The bike was incredible, and we worked at it all night. It’s unfortunate for Henry – that was his National to win. He did whatever he did, oil went everywhere, and all of the sudden I was in the air fence… Luckily, we were able to go back to the front, do our deal, and bring it home. To win two of these this year is a dream come true.”

“Easy come, easy go,” Wiles said philosophically. “I hit the jump hard, got a little sideways, and landed pretty hard, too. It was a real bummer. I guess I’m going to have to learn to ride these bikes not quite so hard.”

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The Buffalo Chip TT proved equally eventful in terms of its championship implications. Title leader Jared Mees, on the number-nine Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing Scout FTR750, finished a strong second, in sharp contrast to chief rival Bryan Smith, pilot of the number-one Indian Motorcycle Racing, backed by Allstate, Scout FTR750: He crashed in the early going and could only salvage 12th place after remounting.

As a result, Mees now boasts an imposing 31-point advantage with seven races remaining to decide the championship.

“Huge thanks to Indian Motorcycle,” Mees said, “not just for being the greatest motorcycle for me and a big sponsor of mine, but for bringing us to the Buffalo Chip. It was awesome!

“It’s very unfortunate for Henry Wiles,” Mees continued. “He was going really good before he had that engine problem. But congratulations to Briar – he was tailing Wiles every time by about 10 bikelengths, and he was the best guy tonight, besides Wiles. He deserves this win.”

Jake Johnson, on the number-five Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R, came up big to score the first podium finish of the 2017 season for the works Harley-Davidson outfit. That success came much to the delight of the raucous Harley-Davidson fans, who flooded the Buffalo Chip Campgrounds.

“It’s been a rough year,” Johnson admitted. “I was looking forward to coming here. I knew this race was going to be tough, but I also knew that TTs are my strong point. I’ve just got to thank the whole team – Harley-Davison and Vance & Hines and everybody behind the effort. They’ve been working so hard all year, and we’ve just been getting beat up. To do this for those guys… I don’t even know what to say. It’s been a long time coming, and hopefully this means good things are ahead.”

There were amazing stories even outside the top three on this night. Sammy Halbert, pilot of the number-69 Estenson Logistics Yamaha FZ-07, very nearly missed the main event after suffering a mechanical problem while leading on the last lap of the second semifinal. He refused to accept that fate, however, and scrambled to push his bike for the final half-lap. Halbert narrowly secured the final spot in the main with Chad Cose, on the number-49 Weirbach Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650, bearing down on him as he crossed the stripe.

Despite starting the main from the last pick on the grid at a circuit that presented no easy overtaking opportunities, Halbert somehow blasted his way up through the field to an eventual fourth-place finish.

The final spot in the top five went to winner Briar Bauman’s younger brother, Bronson Bauman – pilot of the number-37 Bill Werner Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650 – who equaled his career best finish.

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AFT Singles
The AFT Singles race was every bit as predictable as the AFT Twins Main was unpredictable, but that made it no less fascinating.

As widely expected, National Champion road racer and burgeoning TT legend Hayden Gillim, on the number-95 Cycle World Suzuki RMZ 450, put on another clinic to score his second wire-to-wire TT victory of the season.

Despite backing off and riding a significant portion of the final lap with his front wheel aloft, the “Man in a Van with a Plan” powered to a flawless 4.379-second margin of victory.

After claiming his third career AFT Singles TT victory, Gillim said: “To come out here and get the third win for me – this is awesome! Buffalo Chip and American Flat Track put on an awesome show, and I’m just glad I can be a part of it.”

Meanwhile, the TT woes of AFT Singles title leader Shayna Texter, pilot of the number-52 Richie Morris Racing Honda CRF450R, continued. However, while she failed to make the main again, she could take some solace in the fact that no rider within a hundred points of her finished in the top four.

Behind the 15th-ranked Gillim, second and third place went to 20th-ranked Dan Bromley, on the Big Momma & Daddy Deep Pockets Racing KTM 450 SX-F, and 10th-ranked Jesse Janisch, on the number-132 West Bend Harley-Davidson-backed Yamaha YZ450F, respectively. And 34th-ranked Cole Frederickson, on the Ride Motorsports Honda CRF450R, rounded out the top four.

However, the battle at the top of the AFT Singles title fight did still tighten up considerably: Kolby Carlile, on the number-36 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F, picked up his ninth top-five result of the season to close to within 15 points of championship rival Texter.

Third-ranked Brandon Price, on the number-92 Brandon Price Racing backed by Parkinson Brother’s Racing/ DPC Racing/ Don’s Kawasaki Honda CRF450R, is also now within striking distance after finishing 10th on Sunday evening. He’s currently 21 points out of first.

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The Buffalo Chip TT, presented by Indian Motorcycle, will air on NBCSN on Thursday, September 14, at 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT. The full schedule for American Flat Track on NBCSN can be viewed at www.americanflattrack.com/events-nbcsn.

Awards Update

AFT Singles
McElroy Packaging Lucky 7: Hayden Gillim
Motul Move of the Race: Dan Bromley

AFT Twins
Öhlins Fastest Lap: Henry Wiles
McElroy Packaging Lucky 13: Henry Wiles

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Next Up
American Flat Track will keep the party raging at the 77th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with the Harley-Davidson Black Hills Half Mile in Rapid City, South Dakota, tonight, August 8. Live coverage of the Black Hills Half Mile can be viewed on FansChoice.tv on Tuesday, beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET/ 12:30 p.m. PT, with the opening ceremonies scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET/ 4:30 p.m. PT. Tickets are on sale and can be purchased at https://www.showclix.com/event/black-hills-half-mile.

Fans can keep up to date with American Flat Track on Facebook (@American Flat Track), Twitter (@AmericanFlatTrk) and Instagram (@AmericanFlatTrack). AFT mobile apps are available for iPhone on the App Store and for Android at Google Play. For more information, please visit http://www.americanflattrack.com.

How to Watch
NBCSN and FansChoice.tv are the official homes for coverage of American Flat Track events. All 18 rounds, from the season-opening Harley-Davidson Daytona TT to the American Flat Track finals in Southern California, will air in one-hour primetime telecasts throughout the summer and fall on NBCSN. FansChoice.tv remains a cornerstone of AFT’s digital strategy and provides live-streaming coverage of every event.

About American Flat Track
American Flat Track is the world’s premier dirt-track motorcycle-racing series and one of the longest-running championships in the history of motorsports. Sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing in Daytona Beach, Florida, the series is highly regarded as the most competitive form of dirt-track motorcycle racing on the globe. For more information on American Flat Track, please visit http://www.americanflattrack.com, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, check us out on Instagram, live-stream the events at FansChoice.tv and catch all the American Flat Track racing action on NBCSN.

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