Kolby Carlile returned to the podium Sunday, June 2 at the Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky, which was his first race back in the AFT Twins Production class. His Estenson Racing Twins teammates – Jake Johnson and fill-in rider, Roger Hayden – had mixed results on the challenging clay Mile, with the veteran finishing ninth and Hayden missing the Main by one position.
Still not 100% after his leg injury from his crash at the Super TT, Carlile put forth a valiant effort in his first race back. He qualified third, then went on to ride a superb Semi holding the lead until a technical issue on the final lap put him back to second. In the Main Event the 2017 AFT Singles champ gave everything he had to try and take his first win in the all-new Production Twins class. In the end, second was his best result for the day, but it was an important points haul for the title chase.
On the AFT Twins side of the tent, Johnson and Hayden both struggled on the slick surface in qualifying. When it came time to race, the veteran was able to get some impressive starts that helped him in the race. As for Hayden, it was a great learning experience for the newly retired Superbike racer with dirt track roots. He and the team worked hard during a hurry-up schedule, a result of the rain-delayed Sunday race, and continued to progress throughout the day. Although he missed making the Main Event by one transfer spot, Hayden enjoyed his first ride back on a Twin in over 15 years.
The Estenson Racing squad heads to the Northeast for the first running of the Laconia Short Track during Laconia Bike Week in Loudon, New Hampshire, on Saturday, June 1.
Kolby Carlile – AFT Production Twins #136:
“I’m really happy to be back, in general, and to finish today healthy. The rehab place that I’ve been going to helped me speed up my recovery. I told them when I needed to ride by and we did it.
“It was a good result today. We were fast all day. We battled through some issues, but we also learned some stuff about the bike. In the Semi we had a technical issue, but luckily we were able to still cross the line in second. I got a good start in the Main Event, but we had some changes for the race that I wasn’t ready for. It took me a few laps to get used to them and that’s how Cory [Texter] got away on the start. Then I slowly started to chase him down. I got up next to him and we battled back and forth for a few laps. I was faster going into the corner. He was faster coming out of the corner. I had a lot of wheel spin. At the end of the day, I’m glad to be back on the podium. We’re battling with Cory. We’re going to beat him soon. We’re fighting for this Production Twins Championship.”
Jake Johnson – AFT Twins #5:
“My starts were good all day. I kind of think that’s what saved me because I did not feel good in qualifying. I was actually pretty embarrassed, to be honest. Being 1.8 seconds off or something, I was about ready to file my retirement papers. It was just one of those deals. We changed a lot on the bike, but we ended up going back kind of to what we’ve been running. I think I just had to figure it out, really. In the Semi, I got a good start and I was going into it hoping not to get lapped. I came out with the holeshot on the restart from the second row. It kind of sparked me up a little bit. Got running with the front guys. I kind of was by myself in qualifying the whole time. Got to run with some faster guys and just kind of was able to pick it up a little bit better.
“From qualifying almost last to finishing ninth, I guess I get the “Most Improved” Award for the day. We’ve still got a lot to work on. It’s the first Mile of the year. This is a tricky track. It’s not like Springfield. I guess when you think Miles, you think Springfield. Springfield is pretty forgiving. Wide corners, smooth. A lot of traction. This place started out with a really narrow groove and didn’t have a ton of traction.”
Roger Hayden – AFT Twins #95:
“It was good. I’m definitely disappointed to miss the Main by one spot, but we learned throughout the day and I just kept getting faster and faster, so that was cool. I knew I had a lot to learn. I’m just lucky my Crew Chief, Mike [Stauffer], was really patient with me and that we got the bike working pretty good there in the Semi. We actually had pretty good lap times, but I just needed a little bit more time on the bike. It was fun. I enjoyed it. I think if I had that extra time, I can just get quicker. I knew it was going to be a little bit of a struggle today, but I was happy with the progress that we made. I want to thank Tim and Estenson Racing for the opportunity to ride their bike and hopefully can do more.”