Estenson Racing’s JD Beach fought to the finish to take the final spot on American Flat Track’s AFT Twins podium at the 73rd running of the Peoria TT on Saturday, August 17. Jake Johnson and Kolby Carlile finished inside the top 10, with the fourth member of the Twins team, Roger Hayden soldiering on in spite of technical issue late in the race to finish 13th.
Mother Nature nearly spoiled the plans for race day with a downpour early Saturday morning, but the track was turned around and ready to go for a delayed afternoon start. Johnson led the way in qualifying in fifth, with Beach not far behind in seventh, Hayden 10th and Carlile 12th. Both Beach and Johnson had a good start in the Semi, ultimately finishing second and third, respectively, giving them a front row spot on the grid for the Main.
In the Main Event, Beach and Johnson were right behind the top three for the early part of the race. With two TT wins under his belt already this season, the dirt track/road racer was looking to get past the reigning AFT Twins champ but found himself locked in battle for the long haul. That race for the final spot on the podium became a three-way fight with Beach getting shuffled back a position. In the end, he was able to pass both riders on the final run to the checkers and cross the line third. His efforts at the Peoria Motorcycle Club mark his third podium of the season.
As for Johnson, the rough track conditions in turns three and four hurt his forward progress. After a few big moments, the two-time Grand National Champion went into conservation mode to avoid ending up on the ground. He felt that he may have found something, but it was a little too late to catch up to the lead group and seventh was the best result on the day.
Carlile had a decent result in the Semi in fifth with Hayden right behind him in sixth. In spite of having to go with his backup bike before the Main Event, the rookie kept his cool and ran a solid race in the top-10 for all 25 laps, ultimately crossing the line 10th. Hayden was not far behind and looking for a top-10 spot himself, but unfortunately a technical issue had him focused on finishing the Main.
Estenson Racing’s AFT Twins team gets a weekend off before returning to Illinois for a Springfield Mile doubleheader, on Saturday, August 31, and Sunday September 1.
JD Beach – AFT Twins #95:
“It just was hard because I felt like we had more speed, but going through turns one, two, three and four, the bike didn’t roll through the turn as well as I hoped. I was behind (Jared) Mees. He would make ground, and then I would make ground on him. We were just kind of going back and forth, but there really wasn’t anywhere where I could get by him. With four laps to go, Rob (Pearson) got by me in the last turn. He came flying by me. I had a feeling that he knew that we were fighting for third. Going into the last lap, he was real close to me. I wanted to make sure I was right there. I knew he was going to try the same pass (on Mees) that he did on me. When he was going for that, I kind of set up wide and turned it and got a good drive. Then Rob wheelied and started coming over, we came together but I just stayed on the gas. To get third is great. We’ve got some Miles ahead of us now, looking to see what we can do.”
Jake Johnson – AFT Twins #5:
“Not the Peoria I was hoping for. I felt okay today, I just couldn’t get going the way I wanted to all day. In the Main Event I felt okay, just had some big moments down in turn three and four. So, I had to play it safe down there and try to make some time up on the rest of the track where I felt like I could at times. It was just kind of give and take the whole race. As the race went on, I felt like I kind of figured out an okay way to get around, but at that time it was a little too late. There must have been a serious battle going on in front of me. I think towards the end I was going their pace, but got into some lappers. They were not quite courteous and not really getting out of the way. A disappointing day for me, but we’ll take a couple weeks off and go to Springfield.”
Kolby Carlile – AFT Twins #136:
“I’m super happy with how today went. I felt pretty good all day. I qualified twelfth overall and finished up the Main Event in 10th. I put in a solid 25 laps that I’m really happy with. We had an issue before the Main Event, so I had to hop on my backup bike, which I hadn’t ridden all day and it didn’t have the best suspension for what we needed. Nothing we could have predicted, but we pulled together. I kept my head level and just put in a solid 25 laps. I rode hard. It was my first time ever getting lapped and I didn’t want to mess up the winners’ race. I had a pretty good gap on 10th place until I got lapped. I think when I got lapped I just got in my head a little bit and I couldn’t hit my marks after that, so I fell back to 10th, but no big deal. I’m learning. A top 10 is a good, respectable finish for me today at Peoria. The team worked great. I can’t thank my mechanic and crew chief enough. I’m looking forward to Springfield.”
Roger Hayden – AFT Twins #195:
“Not a terrible day. I had my best qualifying effort. The track got a little rough and I kind of struggled in my Semi, but was feeling better in the Main. I was going decent, right around the top 10, and then the last couple laps just something happened and the bike was cutting out. To be honest, it was a pretty solid day. I was a lot farther up than I have been any other races, from first practice to Semis and stuff. So I’m definitely improving and was happy to get some decent laps in, and really ride the bike a lot. I would have liked to finish better, but things happen. Looking forward to the next one already.”