EVENT: Monster Energy's Brad Baker Lands Bronze at X Games Austin 2015 Inaugural Flat Track Event
Monster Energy’s Brad “The Bullet” Baker – the Harley-Davidson factory racer – takes bronze in the inaugural Harley-Davidson Flat Track X Games Austin 2015 event. Monster Energy’s Jared Mees leads the whole main event only for a mechanical failure to cost him the gold on the final lap
The first event of X Games Austin 2015 is a new event to the X Games, even though it’s likely the oldest event at the X Games. The American Motorcyclist Association first introduced Dirt Track – also known as Flat Track racing – as a racing series 83 years ago, in 1932. Hanging onto those roots, this type of racing hasn’t changed a lot in at least 40 years. The 3/8-mile dirt oval at X Games Austin wasn’t ideal because it wasn’t incredibly “flat” in part due to all of the recent rain in the area, but flat track racing has always provided close racing and drama, and the bumpy circuit provided plenty of both in the sport’s X Games debut.
The format called for two 14-lap heat races comprising 12 racers each, and each of those heats qualified five racers for the main event. The 14 racers who failed to qualify for the main event from the heat races headed to the LCQ, where the top two took the final two spots in the main.
Baker snatched the holeshot off of the motocross-style starting gate at the start of Heat 1, but Brandon Robinson took the lead away on lap one. Baker was biding his time and eventually found his way cleanly by Robinson, then took off with a seemingly routine heat-race win, while Robinson slid back to the fifth and final transfer spot, behind Briar Bauman (second), Monster Energy’s current AMA National Champion Jared Mees (third), and Doug Lawrence.
Monster Energy’s Kenny Coolbeth, Jr., landed seventh in the opening heat and headed to the LCQ, where he grabbed second place and the final transfer spot to the 20-lap main event.
In the main event, Baker started out like a man on a mission, going into turn one in third, but leading the field out of turn two with daytime fastest qualifier Mees right on his tail.
There’s an old saying in motorcycle racing, “Slow is fast.” That applies to rough and technical courses like the X Games Austin dirt oval. It was very easy to over-ride the track, and Baker did exactly that while trying to chase Mees down, overshooting turn one and dropping back to fourth behind Bryan Smith and Sammy Halbert, and Baker lost the fourth spot to Johnny Lewis not long afterward.
Baker finally got calmed down around the halfway point and found his way back around Lewis into fourth, but Mees was calm, cool and collected out front, stretching out a sizeable lead as he headed into the final lap.
However, the promised drama was delivered when Mees’ Harley-Davidson threw the sprocket from the rear wheel as he rode off of turn two, causing him to go immediately from hero to zero.
Smith ended up taking the win over Halbert, while Brad Baker landed Monster Energy its first medal of the 2015 edition of X Games Austin.
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