Justin Brayton finished a career-best second-place in the main event, leading much of the way before the runaway points leader Villopoto brought the hammer down. It was a gutsy ride for the quiet man from Iowa, who is riding hurt—and riding very well. Of course Brayton got a little help in that James Stewart crashed out on the first lap of his heat race, drilled in hi-definition by Jimmy Albertson (those GoPro cameras are just downright amazing), and Jake Weimer didn't even qualify. During the main Kevin Windham would join Stewart on the out-with-injury list, which is unfortunately growing by the race....
Brayton's tough-it-out efforts in Indianapolis meant a lot to his team, which has been beset by those aforementioned injuries, first with Trey Canard and then with the Honda-mounted Chad Reed. It also meant a lot in particular to Erik Kehoe, the Muscle Milk Honda team manager, for more personal reasons. Earlier in the day, as the track walk was going on, Kehoe was in a car heading southeast from Indianapolis to Dayton, Ohio. He would spend the Indy practice sessions in a funeral home saying goodbye to the first man who gave him a job after his own racing career ended. Kehoe showed up at the Schlientz & Moore Funeral Home to pay his respects to Phil Alderton, the man behind Honda of Troy, who died under tragic circumstances last weekend. Kehoe left Brayton in very capable hands, because while Team Honda may not have a lot of top results this year due to the circumstances and competition, they do have some wise, experienced people under the red tents. So while they watched practice and collected data, Erik was two hours away watching a slide show of his old boss and friend's life play out to its unfortunate conclusion in a funeral parlor.
I didn't talk to Erik after the service but as I watched the races at home on SPEED, I couldn't help but wonder about the busy day Erik Kehoe had and the digging-deep efforts of his rider. I was happy for them both, and I would like to think that somewhere up there in the sky, so was Phil Alderton.
Photo by DC