Estenson Racing’s Kolby Carlile made great gains in the AFT Production Twins Championship at the American Flat Track Springfield Mile doubleheader, crossing the line second in Saturday’s race and grabbing his first-career win in the Twin’s class on Monday. On the AFT Twins side of the tent, it was a tough weekend for Jake Johnson and JD Beach at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
On Saturday, Carlile got off to a good start finishing third in his Heat and second in the Semi. He then went on to lead the first lap of the Main Event, but got shuffled back to fifth. Not one to throw in the towel, the 2017 AFT Singles Champion put his head down and made a charge to the front in the final laps to take a second-place finish.
Weather pushed the Springfield Mile II to an abbreviated program on Monday, but in spite of the delay and the shortened schedule, Carlile kept his momentum rolling. He won his Heat race and took another solid second-place finish in the Semi. At first, Monday’s Main Event looked to be a repeat. He got off to a great start to lead the first lap, but was shuffled back in the order. Carlile kept his cool and waited patiently for the final laps. The race was red-flagged and on the restart he was in the mix, battling for third. After the leader dropped out with a technical issue, the “Flying Tomato” had his eyes on the top spot from second and made his move on the last lap to take his first win in the Production Twins class. The win was a big boost after a roller coaster ride of a season for Carlile, being sidelined with a leg injury earlier this season after a crash in the Main Event at the Super TT. His pair of podiums also moved him into second place in the standings and breathed new life into the title chase as he sits 23 points adrift of the leader.
In the AFT Twins class, Beach had a decent showing in Saturday’s Springfield Mile I, improving on his seventh-place Heat finish to sixth in the Semi. The dirt track/road racer then went on to work his way up from 15th in the Main Event to 13th. As for his teammate Johnson, his day did not get off to a great start. Technical issues in both qualifying sessions had the veteran at a disadvantage going into the race. Although he and his crew worked hard to overcome the challenges, Johnson was unable to advance to the Main Event.
With a day off due to the weather delay, the team was hard at work in making improvements for Monday’s Springfield Mile II. Unfortunately, Sunday’s rain made for a different Springfield Mile track than the norm. Johnson scored a pair of top 10 finishes in the qualifying races, missing the Main Event by one position. Beach also finished ninth in his Heat and improved to eighth in the Semi to advance to the Main, but a technical issue sidelined him for the rest of the day.
The team now looks ahead to the Williams Grove Half-Mile in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, September 7.
Kolby Carlile – AFT Production Twins #136:
“It finally happened! It took all year to finally get the win, but we got it and it feels great. I’m finally feeling myself again. My knee is pretty strong. My fitness is back where it needs to be. The knee injury crushed everything I had going at the beginning of the season. I was on the couch for a long time, and I wasn’t able to ride at all. We’re also developing a new bike, so it’s been tough but my crew has been working hard all year. We all knew it was a matter of time before we would be able to get a win, and we were able to do it today at Springfield. We also cut the points lead in half this weekend. I think we’ve all got the mindset that we’ve got to keep winning to have a shot at winning this championship. None of us thought we were in the hunt anymore after skipping a round and breaking my leg, but we’re pushing hard, and everything’s working well. We’re all happy. Let’s just keep it rolling and see what we can do next weekend.”
JD Beach – AFT Twins #95:
“It was a tough weekend. We were hoping to do a little bit better and just kind of struggled through both days. There’s not really much to say about it. We’re all bummed about it, but we will put our heads down and go on to the next one.”
Jake Johnson – AFT Twins #5:
“Not much to say about it, really. Saturday was pretty rough. We had a couple mechanicals in practice and were playing catch-up all day. Today (Monday) was kind of a short, quick deal. One qualifying session then straight into racing. In the Heat race, we struggled a bit. Then, in the Semi, we nearly got the holeshot. I was second going into turn one and just got blitzed from every direction coming off of turn two. I ended up, I think, ninth or something, one out of the Main.
“I think we just need to regroup. We’ve got one more Half-Mile next weekend and it’s a home race for me. I’m looking forward to that one. It’s a track I like. The last two are somewhat cushion Miles… So we’ll just try to regroup and see if we can get something figured out and get a couple good finishes before this is over.”