A reinvented series, a new track layout and the inherent excitement of Bike Week At Daytona combined for a dynamic debut for the DAYTONA TT on Thursday night, with Jared Mees winning the headlining AFT Twins main event on an Indian Scout FTR750.
The DAYTONA TT opened the debut season for the newly rebranded American Flat Track series, with competitors greeted by a challenging .6-mile dirt-track course in the Daytona International Speedway tri-oval area. Mees, from Clio, Michigan, met the challenge, to say the least; he led all 25 laps of the main, beating last year’s flat track national champion Bryan Smith (Indian Scout FTR750) by 9.174 seconds. Henry Wiles (Kawasaki Ninja 650) finished third.
In the process, history was made. Mees gave the Indian Motorcycle Company its first Daytona victory since Floyd Emde won the Daytona 200 in 1948.
“Right after the semifinal we made a couple adjustments with the bike, moved some things around,” Mees said. “Then I got a great start. That was the key.”
Eighteen-year-old Dalton Gauthier of Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, riding a Yamaha YZ 450F, got by Wyatt Anderson (KTM 450 SX-F) on the last turn of the last lap to win the 15-lap AFT Singles main event. Anderson, who finished second, led from the green flag until Gauthier’s inside pass.
“Seeing that I was close enough to make a pass, I just stuck it underneath,” Gauthier said.
The three AFT Twins heats were won by Smith, Mees and Donald Mullen II (Kawasaki Ninja 650). The four AFT Singles heats were swept by Honda CRF450R riders Jesse Janisch, Ferran Cardus, Kolby Carlile and Tristan Avery. The top eight finishers in each heat advanced to respective semifinals.
Last-chance qualifying (LCQ) races advanced the top four finishers to the semis. The AFT Twins LCQ was won by Robert Pearson (Kawasaki Ninja 650); the AFT Singles LCQ went to Beau Thompson (Honda CRF450R). Twins semifinal winners were Michael Rush (Yamaha FZ07) and Bronson Bauman (Kawasaki Ninja 650); Singles semifinals winners were Gauthier and Anderson. Semifinals advanced the top nine to main events.
Bike Week At Daytona wraps up on Saturday with the 76th running of the DAYTONA 200 road-race classic. The storied event dates to 1937; it was held from 1936-1960 on the old Daytona beach-road course that utilized both the Atlantic Ocean shoreline and State Road A1A. In 1961 the race moved to Daytona International Speedway.
On Friday, a DAYTONA 200 practice session from 9-9:25 a.m. will be followed by three qualifying sessions starting at 10:45, 1 p.m. and 4:30. The DAYTONA 200 will take the green flag at 1 p.m. Saturday.
In addition to on-track action, a variety of other fan-friendly activities are rounding out Bike Week At DAYTONA.
Tickets for all 2017 Daytona International Speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.