Redemption! Jared Mees Strikes Gold at Harley Flat Track X Games Austin 2016

Jared Mees X Games Flat Track Gold Medal 2016

Jared Mees stands atop the podium after winning gold in the Harley-Davidson Flat Track race at the 2016 X Games Austin. (Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson) 

Jared Mees claimed redemption in Thursday night’s Harley-Davidson Flat-Track Racing main event during the opening night for ESPN’s Summer X Games at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. Mees (No. 9 Las Vegas Harley-Davidson XR750) won by a margin of 0.369 of a second over Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. (No. 2 Zanotti Harley-Davidson XR750) with Brad “The Bullet” Baker finishing third aboard the No. 6 Factory Harley-Davidson XR750.

Mees also secured the inaugural AMA Pro Flat Track win at the Harley-Davidson Lone Star Half-Mile at COTA in April and has bragging rights to call himself the king of the half-mile circuit. Mees came to Austin with a purpose, having suffered a mechanical failure on the last lap while leading the race in last year’s X Games, and he used that memory as motivation during Thursday night’s performance.

“It’s awesome,” Mees said. “It’s probably one of the biggest highlights in my career. It feels like I just won the Grand National Championship, honestly. Last year when we got invited to come to the X Games, I wanted to be the first guy to win it. I was so close and it didn’t happen and I heard about it until tonight. I was bitter and upset. But to come here and to win it and to also win in April, I feel like I am definitely the dominant guy. My initial thought as I went through the finish line was, ‘Hallelujah’ and I’m so glad we got it in and I got what I wanted.”

When the starting gate dropped, Michael Kirkness bolted from the inside lane aboard his No. 87 Harley-Davidson XR750 to take the hole shot. The Australian led the 12-rider field into the first turn before calamity struck for the odds-on favorite in the race, last year’s X Games gold medal winner, Bryan Smith.

Despite having a lackluster start, Smith dove his No. 1 Crosley/Howerton Kawasaki Ninja 650 into the first corner with conviction from the middle of the pack. In a bout of bad luck, the Michigan native snagged the toe of his boot on the edge of the track, sending him to the ground and collecting the No. 69 BriggsAuto.com Harley-Davidson XR750 of Sammy Halbert in the process.

Meanwhile up front, Jake Johnson’s No. 5 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson XR750 grabbed the lead and officially led the first four laps before Baker overtook the former champion heading into Turn 4, with Mees in tow. Mees patiently stalked Baker until the eventual third-place finisher ran wide in the same area of the track on lap 8, opening the door for Mees to take the point.

Coolbeth, Jr. then joined the fray, challenging Mees for the final 10 laps of the 20-lap main.

“I showed him a wheel a little too early,” Coolbeth said. “He was struggling in laps three and four trying to get it turned. I showed him a wheel with five or six laps to go and he played defense. All-in-all he deserves it after last year, so it’s good. I’m happy and hopefully next year we’ll be in his spot.”

Factory Harley-Davidson rider Baker made his team proud by putting the legendary XR750 on the box for a second year in a row.

“It feels great any time you get on the box but here at the X Games it’s just a little bit extra special,” Baker said. “Hats off to Kenny and Jared, they had something for me. I got out there quick, I thought I had a good line and started over riding the motorcycle a little bit. I was hopping around some and Kenny and Jared were being a little smoother. It was a good race to get on the box. To get a bronze medal for a second year in a row is cool. Hats off to Jared for getting a gold after what happened last year. Harley-Davidson 1-2-3 it’s pretty cool for the Harley-Davidson Motor Company. I can’t give a big enough thanks to them for everything that they do for the sport, for my team and for myself.”

2016 Harley-Davidson Flat-Track Racing Main Event Results:

1. No. 9 Jared Mees
2. No. 2 Kenny Coolbeth, Jr.
3. No. 6 Brad Baker
4. No. 5 Jake Johnson
5. No. 87 Michael Kirkness
6. No. 44 Brandon Robinson
7. No. 10 Johnny Lewis
8. No. 67 Davis Fisher
9. No. 55 Jake Shoemaker
10. No. 23 Jeffrey Carver
11. No. 1 Bryan Smith
12. No. 69 Sammy Halbert

Next up for AMA Pro Flat Track, the series heads to Remington Park in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for the OKC Mile. “Mile Specialist” Bryan Smith is sure to seek redemption of his own on June 18, 2016. For tickets and information, please visit http://okcmile.com/tickets-to-the-okc-mile-flat-track-motorcycle-race/.