Mees At Sac Mile
Jared Mees (AFT photo)

Jared Mees Controls Sacramento Mile

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) furthered his claim as the preeminent Mile rider currently competing in Progressive American Flat Track with a pivotal victory in Saturday night’s 58th Legendary Mission Sacramento Mile powered by Law Tigers at Cal Expo.

Those bragging rights were brought into question after Mees was outscored 2-1 in Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle Mile wins a year ago by then-rookie Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT). Their first Mile showdown of the season carried even greater significance than it otherwise would have with Daniels having arguably emerged the title favorite and leading reigning champion Mees in the points.

The race went to script with the two separating at the front and settling into a one-on-one fight to the flag. Just past mid-distance, Mees railed around the corners with his helmet down in an attempt to break Daniels’ challenge. While unable to sink Daniels’ hopes completely, the ploy granted Mees a few tenths which he successfully guarded all the way to the end.

The victory was the 24th Mile triumph of Mees’ illustrious career. That moves him ahead of Ricky Graham and into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time order and just one away from joining Bubba Shobert and Bryan Smith in a tie for third.

The result also drew Mees a bit closer to the championship lead. 

That said, Daniels is not doing him any favors in that regard, extending his season-long streak of top-two finishes. The gap is now 20 points (159-139) as the two continue to distance themselves from the remainder of a talented pack of contenders.

“I honestly was sweating coming into the Miles — last year I felt like we were a little down,” Mees admitted after earning his fifth-career Sacramento Mile win. “I didn’t know what to expect. But Kenny (Tolbert) worked really hard this winter to get us back some ponies, and

Jimmy Wood really had that thing hooked up with the Öhlins suspension. I don’t think I’ve ever been that hooked up before. I could just go into the corner and mash the throttle. The Indian Motorcycle was phenomenal tonight.”

Daniels’ teammate, J.D. Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT), solidified his hold on third in the championship order with his third podium of the season. It only came about following a final-lap duel with Kolby Carlile (No. 36 G&G Racing/Yamaha Racing Yamaha MT-07), however, when Beach poked ahead by 0.021 seconds at the line.

Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) and Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750) each had a shot at the box on the final lap as well, ultimately finishing fractionally behind in fifth and sixth, respectively.

Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke) earned a lonely seventh, although that description fails to adequately express the contour of his race. Bauman actually led more than once early in the contest before running wide on the powerful-yet-brutish KTM and dropping to fifth. He worked his way back up to third at one point before going off the groove again and fading out of podium contention.

Bauman was followed home by his brother, Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Fastrack Racing/2 Wheelz KTM 790 Duke), while Ben Lowe (No. 25 Rackley Racing/Mission Foods Indian FTR750) and Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Indian FTR750) completed the top 10.

Australian phenom Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) scored his maiden Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER victory in breathtaking fashion in Sacramento.

A huge early train of 450s connected to the front slowly whittled away as the race progressed. The battle for the win at last took its final shape with just over a minute remaining when three-time Sacramento Mile winner Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) fell away from the lead group and into the clutches of a second group bursting with big names and title contenders.

With Brunner out of the fight, the checkered flag was set to be decided between Drane, Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), and Chad Cose (No. 49 1st Impressions Race Team/Husqvarna Racing FC450).

Lowe stormed past Drane as they opened the final lap, but the diminutive Aussie stormed back by on the back straight, confident he could out-run any and all slingshot attempts in the decisive drag race to the line.

He was proven correct, albeit only by just 0.005 seconds over Lowe and .036 seconds over Saathoff. Meanwhile, Cose finished just another 0.065 seconds back yet found himself left off the podium altogether.

Drane came into the season with serious hype and had endured something of a quiet start to the year when judged based on those lofty expectations. However, tonight’s victory put everything back in its proper perspective. Ultimately, the Estenson Racing Yamaha prodigy earned his first win just a month after turning 17.

He said, “I just can’t thank the team enough for all the work they do, all the hours. It’s amazing. This has boosted my confidence heaps, showing I can do it. I’m so happy.”

Fifth went to Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F), who clawed his way up from outside the top 10 after earning his slot on the grid via the LCQ.

He placed Brunner between himself and his primary title rivals in the process. Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) crossed the stripe in seventh, followed by Sacramento Mile legend Shayna Texter-Bauman (No. 52 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 450 SX-F) and the impressive Travis Petton IV (No. 82 ECG Racing/3 Bros KTM 450 SX-F).

The final position in the top 10 went to defending class champ Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F). Despite the uncharacteristic result, Kopp continues to lead in the standings with 137 points. Gauthier closed to within 14 points at 123, while Whale and Saathoff are now tied for third at 115.