It was a night of mixed fortunes for Estenson Racing on the Texas Half-Mile as both Kolby Carlile and Jake Johnson battled the competition and tough track conditions at round three of the 2018 American Flat Track season.
As has been the story so far this season, Carlile gets off to a good start in qualifying, does well in his heat, but struggles in the Semi with setup issues as he and his team familiarize themselves with its all-new 2018 Yamaha YZ450F. It all came together, though, in the Main at Texas Motor Speedway, and they got the bike dialed in for the reigning AFT Singles Champion. Once Carlile was able to get through the traffic that was slowing him down, the “Flying Tomato” was flying in an attempt to chase down the lead pack. Unfortunately, it was a bit too late, and he had to settle for fourth. Although hoping for better, Carlile was happy to make more progress with his new machine and gain some valuable momentum heading into round four after a rough first two rounds of his title defense.
On the AFT Twins side, the day as a whole was full of highs and lows for Johnson. It started out well with a decent first-practice session, but looking to fine-tune and continue the development of the fast Yamaha MT-07, he ended up going backwards and qualified eighth. This didn’t worry the two-time Grand National Champion, and he felt good going into the evening program. That feeling carried forward into the Semi, but a pair of red flags negated two great starts, and the wear on the clutch made the third one less so. Just as Johnson thought he was poised to reel-in the pack in front of him, he got caught up in a multi-rider incident that ended his night early. Thankfully, although Johnson was left feeling a bit beat up after a big off, he was okay and looking forward to some time at home to rest before Calistoga next weekend.
Jake Johnson – AFT Twins #5:
“It was a little bit of an up-and-down day. We were decent in the first round of practice, then we tried some things for qualifying and went backwards. In the Semi everything seemed to be going pretty good. The first start, I came out right in third and was running right with Bryan [Smith] and Jared [Mees]. Next start, I got the holeshot and another red comes out… then got the clutch hot and got a bad start. Seemed like I kind of started getting my stuff together and kind of reeling back in on the pack in front of me. I saw Bryan go down and he was like three spots ahead of me. As I was getting close to [the crash], it almost looked like it was coming back down in front of me. I had nowhere to go and went over the bars. It wasn’t the way I wanted to end the day. Although I didn’t feel that great today because the track was pretty tough, I felt like we could have had a good, solid finish if it wasn’t for that. We’ll get healed up and give it another go next week.
Kolby Carlile – AFT Singles #1:
“We started really good today in practice and qualifying. Then we went into the heat race and the track kind of changed. The bike setup was off a good bit, and in the Semi, I struggled a lot and ended up fifth. So that set me back for the Main event. I was on the second row, but the whole team got together, and we threw a Hail Mary and found a setup that worked amazing in the Main. I got a good start, but I got held up for quite a while. Then once I got by one rider, I started passing a rider each lap and I ended up in fourth. I saw third place and second and first way ahead, but it was just too late at that point. I couldn’t catch up. I knew I had the speed, the bike was great, and everyone worked hard today. I’m really happy with how it went. I just want more.”