2017 Buffalo Chip TT Results
Many associate Strugis Motorcycle Rally with cruising big twins and late-night partying, but racing is always at the core of America’s biggest bike rally.
For 2017, the 2017 American Flat Track Championship debuted at the Buffalo Chip for the inaugural Buffalo Chip TT presented by Indian Motorcycle.
Round 13 of the AFT series was wild, with the red flags that resulted in a crasher taking the win in the Twins class. For the second time this season, Zanotti Racing Kawasaki’s Briar Bauman (Ninja 650) claimed victory–but in an unusual way at the Buffalo Chip TT.
All eyes were on pole sitter Henry Wiles (No. 17 DPC Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650), who was set for an 18th TT career win. But on the race’s third restart, Wiles Ninja began leaking oil, bringing out a red flag.
With Wiles bike too damaged for repair, and Bauman took advantage of a front-start. He went on to take the win, his second including his Lima Half-Mile victory. Joining him on the podium were points leader Jared Mees ((No. 9 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing Scout FTR750) and Bryan Smith (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate Scout FTR750).
“Dave Zanotti and the entire team deserve so much credit. The bike was incredible, and we worked at it all night. It’s unfortunate for Henry – that was his National to win,” Bauman says.
“He did whatever he did, oil went everywhere, and all of the sudden I was in the air fence… Luckily we were able to go back to the front, do our deal, and bring it home. To win two of these this year is a dream come true.”
“Easy come, easy go,” Wiles said. “I hit the jump hard, got a little sideways, and landed pretty hard too. It was a real bummer. I guess I’m going to have to learn to ride these bikes not quite so hard.”
The Buffalo Chip TT proved equally eventful in terms of its championship implications. Mees finished a strong second in sharp contrast to chief rival Smith, who crashed in the early-going and could only salvage 12th place after remounting.
As a result, Mees now boasts an imposing 31-point advantage with seven races remaining to decide the championship.
Mees said, “Huge thanks to Indian Motorcycle, not just for being the greatest motorcycle for me and a big sponsor of mine, but for bringing us to the Buffalo Chip. It was awesome.
“It’s very unfortunate for Henry Wiles. He was going really good before he had that engine problem. But congratulations to Briar – he was tailing Wiles every time by about 10 bike lengths, and he was the best guy tonight besides Wiles. He deserves this win.”
Jake Johnson (No. 5 Harley-Davidson Factory Flat Track Team XG750R) came up big to to score the first podium finish of the 2017 season for the works Harley-Davidson outfit. That success came much to the delight of the raucous Harley-Davidson fans who flooded the Buffalo Chip Campgrounds.
“It’s been a rough year,” Johnson admitted. “I was looking forward to coming here. I knew this race was going to be tough, but I also knew that TTs are my strong point. I’ve just got to thank the whole team – Harley-Davison and Vance & Hines and everybody behind the effort. They’ve been working so hard all year, and we’ve just been getting beat up. To do this for those guys… I don’t even know what to say. It’s been a long time coming, and hopefully, this means good things are ahead.”
There were amazing stories even outside the top three on this night. Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Estenson Logistics Yamaha FZ-07) very nearly missed the Main Event after suffering a mechanical problem while leading on the last lap of Semi 2. He refused to accept that fate, however, and scrambled to push his bike for the final half lap. Halbert narrowly secured the final spot in the Main with Chad Cose (No. 49 Weirbach Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650) bearing down on him as he crossed the stripe.
Despite starting the Main from the last pick on the grid at a circuit that presented no easy overtaking opportunities, Halbert somehow blasted his way up through the field to an eventual fourth-place finish.
The final spot in the top-five went to winner Briar Bauman’s younger brother, Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Bill Werner Racing Kawasaki Ninja 650), who equaled his career-best finish.
The AFT Singles race was every bit as predictable as the AFT Twins Main was unpredictable, but that made it no less fascinating.
As widely expected, national champion roadracer and burgeoning TT legend Hayden Gillim (No. 95 Cycle World Suzuki RMZ 450) put on another clinic to score his second wire-to-wire TT victory of the season.
Despite backing off and riding a significant portion of the final lap with his front wheel aloft, the “Man in a Van with a Plan” powered to a flawless 4.379-marging of victory.
After claiming his third career AFT Singles TT victory, Gillim said, “To come out here and get the third win for me – this is awesome. Buffalo Chip and American Flat Track put on an awesome show, and I’m just glad I can be a part of it.”
Meanwhile, the TT woes of AFT Singles title leader Shayna Texter (No. 52 Richie Morris Racing Honda CRF450R) continued. But while she failed to make the Main again, she could take some solace in the fact that no rider within 100 points of her finished in the top four.
Behind 15th-ranked Gillim, second and third place went to 20th-ranked Dan Bromley (Big Momma & Daddy Deep Pockets Racing KTM450 SX-F) and 10th-ranked Jesse Janisch (No. 132 West Bend Harley-Davidson-backed Yamaha YZ450F), respectively. And 34th-ranked Cole Frederickson (Ride Motorsports Honda CRF450R) rounded out the top four.
However, the battle at the top of the AFT Singles title fight did still tighten up considerably; Kolby Carlile (No. 36 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) picked up his ninth top-five result of the season to close to within 15 points of championship rival Texter.
Third-ranked Brandon Price (No. 92 Brandon Price Racing backed by Parkinson Brother’s Racing/DPC Racing/Don’s Kawasaki Honda CRF450R) is also now within striking distance after finishing 10th on Sunday evening. He’s currently 21 points out of first.
The Buffalo Chip TT presented by Indian Motorcycle will air on NBCSN on Thursday, September 14, at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. The full schedule for American Flat Track on NBCSN can be viewed athttp://www.americanflattrack.com/events-nbcsn .
Catch the highlights on Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/AmericanFlatTrack/videos/1619424828091615/) and YouTube (https://youtu.be/RZ7ldFJN1l4).
American Flat Track will keep the party raging at the 77th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with the Harley-Davidson Black Hills Half-Mile in Rapid City, S.D., this Tuesday night, August 8. Live coverage of the Black Hills Half-Mile can be viewed on FansChoice.tv on Tuesday beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET (12:30 p.m. PT) with Opening Ceremonies scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET (4:30 p.m. PT). Tickets are on sale and can be purchased at https://www.showclix.com/event/black-hills-half-mile.
Fans can keep up-to-date with American Flat Track on Facebook (@American Flat Track), Twitter (@AmericanFlatTrk) and Instagram (@AmericanFlatTrack). AFT mobile apps are available for iPhone on the App Store and for Android at Google Play. For more information, please visit http://www.americanflattrack.com.