American Flat Track Red Mile
It was a packed house at the inaugural Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky, the first time the Grand National Championship has raced in the state since 2004.Photo: Andrea Wilson

The battle for American Flat Track's Grand National Championship has come down to two guys in recent memory: Bryan Smith and Jared Mees. This year is no exception, even though they are on the same machinery.

Momentum swings like a pendulum between the Indian Motorcycle riders, and on Saturday that pendulum swung back in Mees’ favor. The Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing rider took a key victory in front of a sold-out crowd at the inaugural Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky to even the score in the title chase with his rival Smith.

Jared Mees
Jared Mees looked to be the man to beat from the start of the Red Mile.Photo: Andrea Wilson
Kolby Carlile
Kolby Carlile went into the Red Mile – now his home race since moving to Kentucky – on top of the points.Photo: Andrea Wilson

Although at the Red Mile, the battle on track was hard-fought between Mees and Sammy Halbert on the Estenson Logistics Yamaha FZ-07; a battle that wasn’t hard to predict as Mees and Halbert were on top form that day. But in that final showdown, top honors went to Mees who crossed the line by a mere .013 of a second ahead of Halbert. Adding to the heroics of that win was that Mees was stuck in one gear (thankfully for the former champ, a high one) for most of the race.

Kenny Coolbeth, Jr.
Veteran Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. tried the high line in the afternoon, but it wasn’t the place to be.Photo: Andrea Wilson

The battle for that last spot on the podium was fought between Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by All State teammates Smith and Brad Baker, with Baker getting the “Mile Master” near the end of the race. And at the end, although both Baker and Smith were hoping for more, Baker was happy to return to the podium and Smith was happy to make it through Kentucky. The defending champ had a glimpse of how things could go horribly wrong in the Semi after he came off the groove. So ultimately, fourth-place was not a complete disaster for Smith.

In the AFT Singles class, Ben Evans Honda’s Kevin Stollings ran away with the win, but was disqualified for failing to pass tech for violating the noise regulation. A gutting end result for the 17 year old, but ultimately a glimpse at the kid’s potential for being a rising star in the sport.

Ron Ayers Honda’s Tristan Avery’s hard fought battle for second ultimately turned into his first win of the season, followed by Richie Morris Racing’s Shayna Texter and Parkinson Brothers Racing’s Kolby Carlile.

Shayna Texter
Shayna Texter (52) struggled on the Red Mile as well, but she was able to score a podium finish and regain her lead in the AFT Singles championship.Photo: Andrea Wilson
AFT Twins rookie Ryan Wells
AFT Twins rookie Ryan Wells continues to learn the ropes.Photo: Andrea Wilson
Brad the bullet Baker
Brad Baker was hoping for a win, but was ultimately happy to return to the podium on a tough track at the Red Mile.Photo: Andrea Wilson
Red Mile AFT Singles
The battle for second in the AFT Singles class was a barn burner.Photo: Andrea Wilson
Bryan Smith
Bryan Smith’s win streak ended at the Red Mile, but he’s looking to rebound at the next one.Photo: Andrea Wilson
Sammy Halbert and Jared Mees
It was a reminiscent heated battle between Sammy Halbert (69) and Mees (9), and once again, Mees came out on top.Photo: Andrea Wilson