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Jared Mees and his crew celebrate his AFT SuperTwins championship Saturday night at The Dirt at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (AFT photo)

Mees Captures AFT SuperTwins Championship

CONCORD, N.C. – An epic Progressive American Flat Track season finale was all but guaranteed with the Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle title on the line. 

Even still, the Honda Charlotte Half-Mile at the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., proved more dramatic than anyone could have possibly foreseen.
 
After the checkered flag waved and a season’s worth of points were stacked up, the legendary Jared Mees completed his two-year climb to reclaim the Grand National Championship.
 
Following 15-and-one-half rounds, a titanic Grand National Championship fight took a fateful turn in the blink of an eye. Two-time defending Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle king Briar Bauman shook free from an early dogfight with Mees to stretch out several bike lengths at the front. 

The two title contenders would spend the next several minutes in a game of cat-and-mouse, with Bauman managing a gap of just under a second despite Mees’ desperate attempt to eat away at the advantage.
 
If Bauman held that lead to the checkered flag, he was set to become the sixth rider in history to win three consecutive Grand National Championships. But that dream became a nightmare when he got loose in the wet section and his machine stood up underneath him.
 
After nearly pulling off a miraculous save, Bauman ultimately clipped a hay bale and was sent over the bars. His bike then skittered directly into the path of podium contender Sammy Halbert, who had nowhere to go and was sent high into the air in a dramatic crash.
 
After some time, Bauman was able to return to his feet while Halbert was unable to continue the race and was transported to a local hospital to be evaluated for injury.
 
Further proving his worthiness as a champion, Bauman mounted his back-up machine and lined up at the back of the grid for the restart with five minutes plus two laps remaining to decide the title. Unfortunately, his battered body was unable to match his bravery, and after a short stint, Bauman was forced to retire into the pits.
 
While the title was effectively decided at that point, the race was not. J.D. Beach stepped forward to provide Mees a fierce fight for the win. As the time ticked away, the two were slowly reeled in by Davis Fisher and Jarod Vanderkooi, who turned it into a four-way scrap as the clock hit 0:00.
 
With two to go, Beach took his shot, which was skillfully brushed away by Mees.
 
Fisher, however, took advantage of their tussle, slipping under Beach and then lining up Mees in the year’s final corner. He got underneath the champion-to-be and powered past him as they sprinted to the checkered flag.
 
The paddock erupted as Fisher hit the stripe.114 seconds ahead of Mees to claim his maiden premier class victory. Beach held on for third, followed by Vanderkooi and Brandon Robinson to complete the top five.
 
“Oh man, it was a fight,” Fisher said. “All season long was a grind, just to stay fit and keep working on the bikes all week long. It feels so good. I even had thoughts to not even come to Charlotte this year. We loaded up the van and left the trailer at home and made the trip. This morning my sponsor said he was glad we came and asked me if I was glad too. I said, ‘I don’t know — I’ll tell you tonight!’ It feels so good. I’ve got 41 hours to think about it on the way home.”
 
Mees now boasts six Grand National Championships, along with the 2009 and 2011 GNC1 Twins Championships and the 2012 GNC1 Singles Championship. 

“I hand it to Briar,” Mees said. “He’s definitely one of the toughest competitors — if not the toughest competitor — I’ve ever dealt with.
 
“The famous saying is you win ‘em any way you can. I don’t know… the hype isn’t there at this very second… but to win these things you have to cross the finish line. Man, he made me step up my game these past few years — there’s no doubt about that. He’s one tough competitor. We had a little ‘bro-out’ moment back there, and I told him, ‘Hey, you’re gonna heal up and the battle will resume next year.’”
 
The AFT Singles finale played out about as tensely as possible considering the situation at hand, but in the end, Dallas Daniels did exactly what he needed to in order to become the class’ first-ever back-to-back champion.
 
With a 20-point gap separating Daniels from second-ranked Max Whale, the only way Daniels wouldn’t hold onto the No. 1 plate was if Whale won and Daniels finished lower than 13th.
 
While that seemed like an unlikely prospect in theory, it felt a whole lot more realistic once the rubber actually hit the dirt. As the deciding race took shape, Whale put himself up front in an intense battle with Kody Kopp while Daniels cautiously circulated down in 12th on a tricky course that repeatedly demonstrated the capacity to catch riders out without notice.
 
Adding to the tension, the race was red-flagged late following a Morgen Mischler crash. That forced Daniels to navigate the close quarters of a restart, but he actually made up ground in the process, getting away well to slot into a safe sixth.
 
Whale did all he could, slashing past Kopp to claim his class-leading fifth win of the year. Just behind, Trent Lowe pulled off a spectacular late strike to ace Honda teammates Cole Zabala and Trevor Brunner in order to pick up his first podium of ‘21 in his very final attempt.
 
And then came Daniels, who rolled across the line in sixth to successfully complete his championship defense.
 
The late-season transition of Jesse Janisch from the couch to AFT Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines podium contention ended on the top step of the box.
 
Once regarded primarily as a 450cc TT ace, Janisch proved he more than belonged on a twin after being drafted to sub for the injured Dalton Gauthier. With finishes of second, third, third, and fourth to his name in limited duty, Janisch put the cherry on top with a narrow victory in the finale over Ben Lowe.
 
With the class crown already decided in favor of Cory Texter, Chad Cose and Dan Bromleycame into Charlotte set to decide the championship runner-up between them.
 
Cose was the race’s early leader and Bromley joined Cose, Janisch, and Lowe in a mid-race tilt for first place. Cose ultimately faded to seventh while Bromley rounded out the podium, but the differential still wasn’t quite enough for Bromley to catch Cose for runner-up honors.
 
Johnny Lewis hustled the Royal Enfield to fourth. Meanwhile, class champ Texter added one final top five to a championship-winning season that tallied up seven wins, 11 podiums, and 13 top-fives in 16 races.

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