Jake Johnson played his cards right on a tough, slick track to take home a bronze medal at the fourth running of the Harley-Davidson Flat Track race at this year’s X Games Minneapolis.
Johnson looked like his former self on the ol’ XR750 as he duked it out on the short track to advance to the Main event with a pair of third-place finishes in his Heat and Semi. In the Main, Johnson got a good jump on the start but being on the outside had him falling back into last place. The veteran didn’t get rattled though. Johnson worked his way up to fourth and could all but taste that medal as the final laps approached. He stayed patient though, and that patience paid off when last year’s winner – Sammy Halbert – came together with Briar Bauman in their fight for second, allowing Johnson to slip through and take that final podium spot.
Although Johnson’s teammate Kolby Carlile did not advance to the Main event, the 2017 AFT Singles champ enjoyed his first X Games experience. With limited time on the XR750 before the event, Carlile finally got adjusted to the XR about halfway through his Heat. Unfortunately, that was too little too late, but for Carlile it was more valuable experience on a Twin.
Jake Johnson – AFT Twins #5:
“Got a little bit of a gift there, but I’ll take it. That’s the way the track was. It was really easy to get too excited and make big mistakes like that. I think if I would have got the holeshot it probably would have been worse for me. I probably would have been all nerved up and making a ton of mistakes. But coming from last and just at that point I had nothing to lose. I was just doing my thing. Just had a good pace going and was just letting everybody else make the mistakes.
“I’ve gotten fourth here before and it sucks. You don’t leave with anything. So it feels good; good to be back on an XR. That was fun. The results this year haven’t been that great. This [track] isn’t typical to what we do, but you look at the guys in that Main event and they’re all the best riders this year. That was a good confidence boost there. It just shows I need to get more comfortable on the other bikes.”
Kolby Carlile – AFT Singles #1:
“It was a good learning experience for me. The XR was good once I got the hang of it. That really wasn’t until about past halfway through my Heat race. I wish I could have got some more time on it before the race, but everything came together last minute. I really enjoyed it, though.
“There was so much luck involved with moving on [into the Main] or not. There were some great riders today that didn’t even make it to the Semi. I know what I can work on for next year on the Twin. I’m happy with how I rode. It was awesome racing in that big of a stadium and in front of a big crowd.”