Most championships are remembered for the riders who battled for them: Rainey vs. Schwantz, Rossi vs. Stoner, Spies vs. Mladin, Chandler vs. Duhamel. Not so with the 2022 MotoAmerica Mission King Of The Baggers Championship that concludes this weekend with a winner-take-all battle between Travis Wyman and Tyler O’Hara at New Jersey Motorsports Park. The real war here is Harley-Davidson vs. Indian, Indian vs. Harley-Davidson, and it takes place daily – in the boardroom, on the assembly line, the dealership floor, and the racetrack. As it has been since both brands started making motorcycles in the wee years of the 1900s.
This weekend, however, it’s all about the racetrack.
With just the finale left to run at 3:10 p.m. on Sunday, September 11, the battle for the 2022 KOTB Championship has been whittled down to just two combatants: Travis Wyman and O’Hara. Although defending King Of The Baggers Champion Kyle Wyman is still mathematically alive, he’s 20 points behind with just 25 points remaining on the table. It would take a double catastrophe with both his brother Travis and O’Hara failing to score points. Possible, but unlikely.
It’s Travis Wyman who comes in leading the championship, albeit by just three points over O’Hara. They took widely different paths to get to this point with O’Hara starting the season red hot with Travis Wyman finishing it with all the momentum.
The season got started at Daytona International Speedway back in March with an historic doubleheader as the Mission King Of The Baggers hit the high banks for the first time. It was O’Hara taking victory in that first race and he followed that up with a second place to Jeremy McWilliams, his teammate on the Mission Foods/S&S Cycle/Indian Challenger Team, in race two at Daytona to leave Florida with a points haul of 45 points.
Wyman, the younger, was second to O’Hara in race one at Daytona and was fifth in race two. He left the Sunshine State with 31 points.
At Road Atlanta, it was H-D Screamin’ Eagle’s Kyle Wyman taking his first victory of the season with Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson’s James Rispoli second and O’Hara third. Travis Wyman and his H-D Screamin’ Eagle Road Glide were fifth and looking to fall out of the title chase. He trailed O’Hara by 41 points at the halfway mark.
While O’Hara was the one to beat in the first half of the season, it’s been all Travis Wyman in the second half.
It all started at Road America when T. Wyman won his first-career Baggers race and it set him on a path of scoring 65 points in the three rounds preceding this weekend’s finale. That, combined with O’Hara scoring 42 points with just one podium finish, puts Wyman three points ahead going into this weekend in Jersey. Kyle Wyman, meanwhile, leads the way with two wins on the season, but his scorecard is marred by two non-finishes.
If Travis Wyman wins with O’Hara second on Sunday, Wyman wins by eight points. If O’Hara wins with T. Wyman second, O’Hara takes the title by two points. If both of them fail to score points and Kyle Wyman wins, he takes the title over his brother by six points. Obviously, there are several other scenarios but let’s race first and calculate second.
No matter how this turns out, the pressure on both riders and their crews is going to be immense from the first time they turn a wheel in the first practice session at 11:45 a.m. on Friday to the completion of the race on Sunday afternoon.
Teammates and those riding the same brand can also factor into this. Travis has Kyle, O’Hara has McWilliams. Rispoli and his teammate Taylor Knapp are on Vance & Hines Harleys and Brainerd winner Bobby Fong has already proven to be a thorn in everyone’s side on his Roland Sands Design Indian Challenger. In total, 10 Harleys and seven Indians will take to the grid on Sunday afternoon and any of them could play a role in the outcome.
Bring it on.