American Flat Track rider Jake Johnson was in good spirits Friday.
A member of the three-man Harley-Davidson Factory Team, the former American Motorcyclist Association Pro Grand National Champion took a shot at Pole Position Raceway’s go-kart track in Oklahoma City.
Johnson beat a few other riders in a friendly race before an Aid to Injured Riders-sponsored autograph session at the go-kart venue. The AFT rider is hoping for another win at the second annual OKC Mile at Remington Park on Saturday.
Indian Motorcycles riders Jared Mees and Bryan Smith have dominated so far this season. Smith has won four of the first seven AFT Twins races, and Mees, the 2016 OKC Mile winner, has taken the other three.
Johnson, along with Harley-Davidson teammates Kenny Coolbeth and Brandon Robinson, are looking to end the Indian Wrecking Crew’s early-season success. It’s been a learning process, however, for the new group riding Harley-Davidson’s XGR 750.
“With the new team we’re definitely progressing,” Coolbeth said. “… it’s getting better each race, but we still have quite a bit to learn on the motorcycles to be running right up front. Every weekend gets better, so that’s all you can ask for.”
Remington Park’s track will make it interesting in only the second year of the OKC Mile.
Coolbeth described the track as a bit more loose and unique as a traditional horse racing track. But Coolbeth and Johnson welcome the challenge as the halfway point of the season approaches.
“I think hopefully the track will suit my style,” Johnson said. “A lot of the tracks we’ve been racing lately have been a little more technical, little narrow grooves and kind-of tough to ride.
“But the way this place is, last year it was the more you could hold it wide open, the faster you could go. So I’m looking forward to that.”
Mees and Smith are tied for first in the AFT Twins class standings with 152 points a piece. Johnson is the closest of the Harley-Davidson trio at ninth.
With a plenty of races remaining, the Harley-Davidson riders are hoping to change their luck and climb the standings with a victory in Oklahoma City.
“The team’s been working their tails off, and (getting a win) is bound to happen,” Coolbeth said. “Hopefully it is tomorrow. I’m ready to go, so I’ll give it my all and hopefully be the first orange-and-black when the checkered flag drops.”