Jared Mees nailed down a record-tying ninth AMA Grand National championship with a win and a second-place finish in the two season-ending Progressive American Flat Track races this weekend at the Springfield Mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Mees tied the long-standing record of nine titles held by Hall of Famer Scott Parker, whose run included five straight championships in 1994 through 1999.
"It's what you wake up for every day," said Mees. "It's what you train for. Hats off to Scottie Parker — that's the guy that keeps me going. He kept me going year after year, race after race. He's still the best in my book, and it's an honor to match something that he did."
In the old days, the AMA Grand National champion was determined by who won the Springfield Mile, regardless of what happened the rest of the season. This year, the Springfield Mile determined the champion in a more equitable way, with two season-ending Mission Springfield Mile presented by Drag Specialties races on Saturday and Sunday. Typically, a rider does not want to lead coming out of the last turn at Springfield for fear of being drafted, but with traction being limited, Mees said Saturday's race was a rare exception. He brought his Indian FTR750 across the line 0.340 seconds ahead of Briar Bauman on his KTM 790 Duke after the two pulled away from the rest of the field. On Sunday, it was the same two fighting for the win, but Bauman came out ahead by just 0.075 seconds.
But the rider who kept Mees on edge throughout the season was 20-year-old Dallas Daniels on his Estensen Racing Yamaha MT-07. Daniels, the only rider ever to win the AMA's Nicky Hayden Horizon Award as an amateur youth racer in both roadracing and flat track, was just one point behind Mees coming into the Springfield Mile. The two combined to win 14 of the 18 races this season but Daniels' fourth- and fifth-place finishes at Springfield left him 16 points behind Mees in the final standings.
Early in the season, Indian Motorcycles produced the video below, highlighting Mees' potential run at Parker's record. In the end, he got the job done.
Mees' milestone comes in a year that's already seen some record-breaking and first-ever performances in U.S. domestic motorcycle racing. In roadracing, Josh Hayes broke the all-time wins record across all classes of AMA Pro racing and in the AMA Pro Motocross 450 class, Jett Lawrence became just the third rider ever to record a perfect season, and the first-ever rookie to do so, by winning every moto in every race.
If you missed the races or want to relive them, FOX Sports will present coverage of both the Mission Springfield Mile I & II presented by Drag Specialties on FS1 beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern time on Sunday, September 10.