WHALE BATTLES THROUGH ADVERSITY TO SECURE RUNNER-UP FINISH AT SACRAMENTO MILE
Round 13 – American Flat Track Championship
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Closing in on the end of the 2022 American Flat Track Championship, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Max Whale scored second in Sacramento, California, marking his eighth podium result of the year in the AFT Singles class. Teammate Kody Kopp captured fifth at the Sacramento Mile and he continues to maintain a comfortable lead in the championship standings heading into the final four rounds of the series.
Qualifying just outside the top-10, Whale started from Row 2 of the grid during Semi 1 but that didn’t stop him from blasting into the lead off the start. With a pair of riders breathing down his back, Whale eventually slipped to third early on but he continued to contend for the top two spots until he crossed the finish line in third. Once again starting from the second row, Whale put his KTM 450 SX-F into fourth for the first half of the AFT Singles Main Event before working his way up to third for a few laps. He continued to showcase his speed late in the race, moving into second with a few laps to go, and he crossed the line in second, collecting yet another podium finish in 2022.
Max Whale: “Sacramento Mile was definitely an up and down day. I started the day off on the backfoot, struggling a lot, and then my mechanic wasn’t feeling well. In the main, I started from the second row and had an outside pick but I rode a smart race and ended up second. I just want to give it up to my team, they worked really hard all day and it was a hot one.”
After securing the fastest qualifying time, Kopp started Semi 1 on pole position. He powered off the line into second, where he continually put pressure on the leader throughout the race. However, Kopp was unable to get around his competitor and went on to collect second in Semi 1 aboard his KTM 450 SX-F. Starting from the front row in the AFT Singles Main Event, the series points leader immediately placed himself into the lead spot but he was drafted before he reached the end of lap one. Settling into second for a few laps, he then found himself in a battle to maintain the spot, but slowly dropped to fifth. Late in the race, he regained one position, temporarily, before ultimately taking the checkered flag in fifth.
Kody Kopp: “I ended up fifth on the day, but it doesn’t show how much effort we really put in. Fastest qualifying on a mile is definitely a jump in the right direction and that’s what we did. We made some small gearing changes to the bike trying to figure out what was best for the end of straightaway draft and I felt like for the main we had a good setup. We holeshotted the Main Event and led it down the back straightaway. I feel like I struggled toward the end of the race and kind of faded backwards, but we ended up fifth and gained another two points with four rounds left to go. I’m really looking forward to Springfield!”
With four rounds remaining, Kopp continues to hold onto the AFT Singles Championship lead with a 48-point margin over second-place. Teammate Whale sits in fifth, just 11 points from podium contention.
Next Race: Springfield Mile (Double Header) – Springfield, Illinois – September 3-4, 2022
Round 13 Results – Sacramento Mile
AFT Singles Main Event
1. Trevor Brunner, Yamaha
2. Max Whale, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
3. Brandon Kitchen, Husqvarna
5. Kody Kopp, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
10. Hunter Bauer, KTM
AFT Singles Point Standings (After Round 13)
1. Kody Kopp, 257 points
2. Morgen Mischler, 209
3. Trevor Brunner, 204
5. Max Whale, 193
8. James Ott, 100
10. Hunter Bauer, 83
13. Travis Petton IV, 64