DAYTONA BEACH, FL – April 21, 2023 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – FansChoice.tv is the live streaming home of Progressive AFT. Complete coverage of this Saturday’s Mission Dallas Half-Mile presented by Roof Systems will kick off with the day’s first practice session at 5:30 p.m. ET (2:30 p.m. PT).
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No Half Measures as Progressive AFT Stars Ready for Dallas Half-Mile.
Progressive American Flat Track powers into its first Half-Mile of the season with this weekend’s Mission Dallas Half-Mile presented by Roof Systems. Read More
The Heart of the Schedule
The combination of speed and strategy makes every Mile a marquee event, while the chaos of close-quarters battles and the novelty of jumps, right-handers, and overtakes on the brakes mean each Short Track and TT stand out in their own way.
That said, the Half-Miles tend to be the heart of the Championship. They’ve been the most heavily represented on the calendar, or at least tied for that distinction, the last four years in a row. In fact, during that span, they’ve represented a full 40% of the slate.
So, it should come as no surprise that the premier-class champions of this era – Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) and Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 890 Duke) – are not only excellent all-around dirt trackers, but among the greatest Half-Milers the sport has ever seen.
Together, they’ve combined to win 29 of the most recent 38 Half-Miles (over 76%) and have the championship rings to show for that success.
This season features an unusually balanced schedule – five Miles, five Half-Miles, four TTs, and four Short Tracks. That shifts the championship-winning formula somewhat. Still, those five HMs still carry a great deal of weight.
The biggest threat to the ongoing title domination of Mees and Bauman is obviously Estenson Racing Yamaha’s dynamic duo of Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) and JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT), who currently sit 1-2 in the points.
But – and in stark contrast to Mees and Bauman – while Daniels and Beach have combined to win multiple Miles, TTs, and Short Tracks, both riders are still looking for their first HM victory to round out their respective Grand Slam résumés.
“Practice? We’re Talking About Practice? We’re Talking About Practice, Man.”
This was always going to be a big weekend for Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) as it stands as the home race for title sponsors Mission Foods and Roof Systems, along with his team, JCS Racing.
That importance has been further heightened following two straight races in which Robinson’s chances were either negatively impacted or wiped out altogether due to hard falls in the day’s very first practice session.
Opening practice runs for less than ten minutes and usually transpires with little remark, at best setting an early tone and direction for team and rider.
That said, look for Robinson to put a little extra emphasis in getting a solid and safe session under his belt with the aim of putting his season back on track.
Royal Enfield faced a huge hurdle in stepping up to premier-class duty this season. Thus far, they’ve shown they very much belong in competing against the best in the world. If anything, the solid results of Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield 650) – 8th, 10th, 12th, and 5th – don’t accurately capture just how competitive he’s been in terms of sheer pace.
However, the Royal Enfield was expected to fare reasonably well at Short Tracks and TTs. This weekend’s race at Devil’s Bowl Speedway should be another excellent proving ground for a racebike that has improved by leaps since its 2020 introduction.
Better By Half
Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F) and Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) have done well to survive the opening weekend onslaught of Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F).
Both title hopefuls can be proud to have successfully fought back, but the level of difficulty of containing Kopp only ramps up from here.
The reigning champ was simply peerless in Half-Mile competition a year ago, winning five of eight races, while finishing second, second, and fifth in the other three.
In fact, it’s not a stretch to say his championship was largely built upon his HM dominance, as both his win percentage (62.5% vs 25%) and podium percentage (87.5% vs.37.5%) dropped off significantly at the non-Half-Mile events.
The fact that Kopp is leading the championship at all before the series even got to its first Half-Mile is not a particularly encouraging sign for the field.
Could there possibly be a better single-cylinder Half-Miler in the world than Kopp? Well… perhaps? (Read on.)
Jared Mees’ late fall from third saw a remarkable six-plus-year streak finally come to an end.
The last time a Mission SuperTwins Main Event ended without an Indian FTR750 represented on the podium was the final race of the 2016 season – the Ramspur Winery Santa Rosa Mile – which also happened to be the revolutionary machine’s maiden outing.
That day, a 47-year-old, semi-retired Joe Kopp managed to win the Dash for Cash in the FTR750’s debut and then went on to finish seventh in the Main Event.
Before the dust had even settled, Indian Motorcycle announced it had snapped up all three of the race’s podium finishers – Brad Baker, Bryan Smith, and Mees, to spearhead its factory racing effort in 2017.
What followed were 104 consecutive races with an Indian on the box – including a huge number of victories and a sizeable collection of podium lockouts.
Efforts to level the playing field and invite increased competition among brands meant that streak was always destined to end. Still, it’s an impressive accomplishment that deserves to be noted.
Earlier, it was stated that Mees and Bauman rank among the best all time at the Half-Mile discipline. Now we put that claim in numbers:
Mees currently owns 33 career HM wins, two short of the all-time record owned – like so many other historical marks – by Scott Parker.
The two at the top are well clear of third-placed Will Davis (26) and fourth-placed Chris Carr (25).
As good as Mees has been throughout his career, he’s arguably been eclipsed by Bauman as of late. In 2017, Mees held a 5-to-1 Half-Mile victory advantage over Bauman. In 2018, it was 4-to-1. 2019, saw them go 2-2, while Bauman took a 4-2 and 3-1 advantage in 2020 and 2021.
Last year, the two leveled out at 2-2 once again, equaled by Robinson, who took a pair of HM wins of his own.
For the record, Bauman now owns 13 career HM wins, good enough for 10th all-time. Robinson is tied with six others for 23rd at five.
Kopp’s Half-Mile supremacy a year ago saw him go from zero wins to five in short order, good enough to move him into a tie with Dallas Daniels for second all-time.
However, it’s still less than half of the record 11 victories owned by Shayna Texter-Bauman (No. 52 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 450 SX-F). And now Texter-Bauman is back in the class and ready to reclaim her standing as the best in the business.
Her return to Parts Unlimited AFT Singles action has been relatively quiet to date. But she’s always been a boom-or-bust rider, one who can go from a DNQ at a track ill-suited to her strengths right back to the top of the podium the next time out at one where she feels more at home.
Three STs and a TT weren’t exactly the ideal recipe for her to jump out to a scintillating start. However, with a run of eight Half-Miles and Miles coming over the next nine races, Texter-Bauman is well poised to remind the world just how good she can be at her best.
About Progressive American Flat Track
Progressive American Flat Track is the world’s premier dirt track motorcycle racing series and one of the longest-running championships in the history of motorsports. Sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing in Daytona Beach, Fla., the series is highly regarded as the most competitive form of dirt track motorcycle racing on the globe. For more information on Progressive American Flat Track, please visit us on the web, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, check us out on Instagram and catch all the Progressive American Flat Track racing action on FOX Sports.
Source: Progressive American Flat Track