Briar Bauman at Ventura Raceway. (AFT Photo)

Bauman Takes Ventura Short Track In Beachside Blowout

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Briar Bauman scored his first victory of the Progressive American Flat Track season, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, with an utterly dominant performance in Saturday night’s Memphis Shades Ventura Short Track at Ventura Raceway in Ventura, California.

The two-time Grand National Champion came into the weekend seeking not just his first Mission AFT SuperTwins win of the year but his first podium of any kind. He ended that uncharacteristic drought in most convincing fashion, backing up a stirring win in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge with a wire-to-wire runaway in the Main Event.

Bauman’s superiority finally brought order to what had been a chaotic affair in the early going. A red flag flew moments after the initial start due to a terrifying incident that saw Johnny Lewis carom off the wall and crash back into the pack that had not yet separated.

That triggered a chain reaction that also collected Ben Lowe, Declan Bender and Morgen Mischler, who completed a full forward flip in the air after contacting the downed Lewis and his machine. Miraculously, all four returned to their feet with Lowe managing to return for the staggered restart.

A second red was issued just as quickly following a spill by hometown hero Kayl Kolkman, who would also return for the subsequent restart.

A third red flag was narrowly avoided when Davis Fisher bounced back up from a crash and immediately remounted, allowing the race to continue and at last find its rhythm.

And the beat it drummed up was a victory march for Bauman, who was never challenged on his way to a 4.613-second margin of victory.

Bauman, who lapped his way inside the top ten, said, “First and foremost, I can’t thank Shayna (Texter-Bauman) and Kenny Coolbeth enough, along with everyone else with Rick Ware Racing. We could write a novel about what’s gone on this season. We had quite the offseason, let me tell you. This might have been a bigger change for me, going to a new group of guys, than it was going from an Indian to a KTM last year. It was so big. I kept telling myself all week long that no one understands how long I’ve been waiting on this, and my team deserves it more than I do.”

The only rider who could even pretend to keep Bauman in sight on this evening was title hopeful Dallas Daniels. The Estenson Racing pilot actually started his push from fifth, slicing underneath Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750), Jared Mees and Jarod Vanderkooi before putting himself in a position to make an honest try at reeling in Bauman.

After that challenge proved insurmountable, Daniels had to be content to solidify his grip on second while Vanderkooi, Mees, and Robinson disputed the final spot on the box behind.

Reigning champ Mees raced his way to that honor as he so often does, with Vanderkooi and Robinson completing the top five.

Sixth and seventh went to twin chargers Bronson Bauman and Kolkman, who battled their way up from 15th and 16th, respectively.

Meanwhile, rookies Trevor Brunner and Max Whale finished eighth and tenth, with Honda-mounted Dan Bromley splitting the two up by claiming the new machine’s second top ten in ninth.

Daniels now leads the Mission AFT SuperTwins title fight by two points over Robinson (103-101) with Mees third at 93 and Bauman closing to within striking distance at 84.

Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER

Tom Drane secured his second victory of the season in an action-packed Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER Main Event that saw the tables turned more than once.

Polesitter, points leader, and double defending champion Kody Kopp was immediately shuffled back to fifth off the line while Chase Saathoff jumped at the opportunity to potentially run away with a second career victory after finally earning his maiden win last time out in Texas.

While Saathoff built up an early second-plus advantage at the front, Drane, Dalton Gauthier, Trent Lowe, Kopp and Logan Eisenhard formed a big second group, each one trying to find a way to respond to the leader’s immediate pace.

Gauthier was the first to find it, slowly closing the gap to first, taking back approximately a tenth each time around the tight circuit. But by the time he found his way onto the Honda pilot’s rear wheel, he found himself under assault by a charging Drane.

Gauthier was unable to provide much resistance, giving way to the Australian ace in short order, a fate Saathoff would suffer himself moments later with Drane slamming through to grab the lead.

Saathoff attempted to counter but Drane rebuffed the attempt and then proceeded to make his escape; the Yamaha runner ultimately worked up a 1.394-second margin by the time he took the checkered flag.

“At the start of the race, I had to really work hard and figure a few things out,” Drane said. “Toward the end I started finding some lines that really worked. (Once in front) I wasn’t letting (Saathoff) him back through. I was making sure I was making that move happen. I can’t thank my whole team enough. We had that bike dialed from the start of the day. We continued to chip away at it and got it better and better. The team put in a really big effort and we’re here now.”

While Drane cleared off, Gauthier jumped on Saathoff and promptly created his own separation on the way to second. Lowe and Kopp piled on from there with the Turner Honda rider stealing away the final spot on the box and Rick Ware Racing star pushing his title rival down to the fifth in the final order.

As a result, Kopp continues to lead the championship chase, now by 14 points over Drane (108-94) with Saathoff now far behind in third (90).