There were so many unknowns going into this year’s American Flat Track season opener – an all-new purpose-built TT inside the famous Daytona International Speedway, Twins racing TTs for the first time in the modern era, brand new bikes and a new race format. But it wasn’t like Bryan Smith was attached to the Short Track outside of the stadium or racing on Motocross 450s in dirt0track trim.

For Smith, Daytona has been all about getting through the Short Track doubleheader with minimal damage in recent memory, but this year Daytona went much better with a Heat win, a top-three finish in the Semi and a second place finish in the Main for his Indian Motorcycle Racing backed by Allstate squad.

“It’s not been my forte,” Bryan said about the old Short Track. “Neither has TT’s, and I’m second. I was going to be happy with a top five – that was my goal. So I’m happy to leave here second and being real close to Jared (Mees) in the points obviously is good.”

So it was a good start to his Grand National Championship defense, leaving Daytona just five points behind rival Jared Mees. It also was a good night for Indian Motorcycle, a one-two finish straight out of the gate for the brand’s first full-season in the championship in over fifty years.

“It was exciting,” Bryan said about the Main. “I came off the line decent, but kind of got a little squirrelly in the first corner and settled into like fifth or something. Then somebody ran wide, maybe broke. I’m not really sure. It was kind of chaos. I settled in and I saw it was halfway. I thought we were closer to the end. It was a long race. At that point, I was behind Donny Mullen and was thinking, ‘Man, Donny Mullen’s going to school me right off the couch.’ He’s just a heck of a small track rider and this is tight corners. Picked up on a couple things he was doing and finally just out-braked him into the first corner. I then settled into I think third, and then the number 20 bike (Vanderkooi) broke I believe.

“I felt some pressure a few times – I don’t know if that was Hank (Wiles) or somebody else. But as soon as you would hear somebody you’d get on the gas and that would mess you up worse than just not getting on the gas. You were panicking but trying to be a relaxed panic all at the same time. It was a technical track, not just because the long straightaways and the corners but with how slick it was… Second place at a TT at Daytona, I’m happy.”

 

 

 

 

 

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