How to Watch & What to Watch: Mission Lima Half-Mile presented by Drag Specialties and Indian Motorcycle

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – June 24, 2023 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – is the live streaming home of Progressive American Flat Track. Complete coverage of this Saturday’s Mission Lima Half-Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle and Drag Specialties will kick off with the day’s first practice session at 3:00 p.m. ET (12:00 p.m. PT). FOX Sports coverage of the Mission Lima Half-Mile, featuring in-depth features and thrilling onboard cameras, will premiere on FS1 on Sunday, July 2, at 2:00 p.m. ET (11:00 a.m. PT). 

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DuQuoin Highlights

Event Rewind: DuQuoin Mile Main Event Highlights

SuperTwins Storylines

Daniels and Co. Attempt to Slow Mees’ Roll at Lima Half-Mile (advance link) 

The Mission Lima Half-Mile is set to kick off the second half of the 2023 Progressive American Flat Track season in style. Read More

Great Scott! 

A fair amount of talk was dedicated to the fact that, with his three-Mile sweep, Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) overtook both Bubba Shobert and Bryan Smith to secure sole possession of third all-time on the Mile wins list at 26. 

So just how monumental is it that Mees now enters the Mission Lima Half-Mile with 34 HM wins to his credit, one short of equaling the iconic Scott Parker for the most in the history of the Grand National Championship? 

And with Lima representing just the first of four consecutive Half-Miles, Mees has multiple opportunities to not just tie, but surpass Parker to claim the top spot on the list all for himself. 


Lima would be a special place to make history. Not only is it the scene of his very first Progressive AFT victory, it’s also a high-profile race promoted by him and his wife, Nichole. 

Promoting a race requires a huge amount of effort, especially in the immediate lead-up to the event. Mees doesn’t brush off any of that work to focus on his racing until the actual day of the race. 

Has that fact impacted his results at Lima one way or the other? 

Well… not really. Mees comes into the weekend boasting five previous victories at Lima. Three came prior to the additional duties he took on to promote the race in 2016 and two more have been added since. 

He’s also had his share of forgettable trips to the venue, with 12th- and 10th-place results coming in 2006 and 2008, respectively – both following victories the season prior before he was promoting the race. Since becoming the race’s promoter, he failed to qualify for the Main in 2017 due to repeated jump starts and then suffered an uncharacteristic (and injury-related) eighth in 2021 since becoming the race’s promoter. 

Still, five wins. Yeah. 

Here are Mees’ career results in the Lima Half-Mile: 

2022: 3rd 

2021: 8th 

2019: 1st 

2018: 1st 

2017: DNQ 

2016: 2nd (first as promoter) 

2015: 4th 

2014: 1st 

2012: 4th 

2011: 5th 

2010: 6th 

2009: 2nd 

2008: 10th 

2007: 1st 

2006: 12th 

2005: 1st 

A New Level 

One of the reasons Mees has conquered the Lima Half-Mile on multiple occasions is because the pea-gravel cushion makes for arguably the most physically demanding and exacting race on the tour, year-after-year. 

And Mees is widely credited with transforming the sport by raising the bar in terms of fitness. 

It’s not the old days anymore. It’s generally accepted that if you want to compete with Jared Mees, you need to be a bonafide professional athlete. 

And that’s now the Progressive AFT standard. Exceptional fitness is a huge reason why Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke) and Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) have stood atop the podium at Lima on more than one occasion themselves. 

It’s a cyclical event in racing. One rider elevates the game, cashes in while the others scramble to adapt, but eventually they do, creating a new standard. 

A similar thing may be playing out in 2023.  

Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) took a big step forward following an already impressive rookie campaign. Mees reacted quickly and the two effectively separated from the pack as the precision and intensity required to hang at the front escalated. 

Last weekend in DuQuoin, we saw Robinson and Bauman mix it up with Mees and Daniels as they got their bikes, bodies, and brains up to the ‘23 race-winning level. 

Several others are now doing everything in their power to accomplish the same thing. 

While the inherent qualities of the venue likely played a role, it might also be a preview of the season’s second half featuring a larger number of riders contending for victories. 

Singles Story lines

Shifting Gears (and Fortunes) 

Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) escaped back-to-back-to-back Miles with his Parts Unlimited AFT Singles title lead threatened but not taken away. 

Now is his time to dish out the punishment. Last year, he was utterly dominant at Lima specifically and, more generally, the field’s undisputed Half-Mile ace, with all but two of his seven victories coming at that distance. 

The question is less how will Kopp respond after going 10-6-5 in his last three races and more how effectively Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), and Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) will carry the momentum they secured with three straight Mile podiums as we transition into the Half-Miles this weekend. 

Saathoff and Drane, especially, seem well poised to do so; the Honda pilot finished third here a year ago as a rookie, while the Yamaha runner did him one better, finishing as the race’s runner-up in his Progressive AFT debut. 

It’ll still require a pretty big jump for either to be on Kopp’s level if last year was any indication. But taking big jumps is what talented, young riders do. 

1.673 Seconds 

Speaking of Saathoff, just how much longer can he be denied? 

He’s not 1.673 seconds short of his first pro win, he’s a combined 1.673 seconds short of having taken five wins in a row! 


And speaking of Drane, it seems he may just be the exception to the rule – that rule being just how important experience is to enjoying success at the Miles. 

Well, Drane turned a few laps at a test at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds a year ago. Other than that, he’s thrown a leg over a racebike at a Mile on four occasions: 

  1. Springfield 2022: He won the Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda Challenge before the Main Event was rained-out. 
  1. Sacramento 2023: He won the Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda Challenge and the Main Event. 
  1. Red Mile 2023: He was the runner-up in the Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda Challenge and finished 3rd in the Main Event. 
  1. DuQuoin Mile: He won the Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda Challenge and the Main Event. 

Pretty decent start to his Mile career, huh? 

What he lacked in seat time at Miles was more than made up for by an ideal combination of light weight, fast bike, comfort drafting at high speed via years of roadracing experience, and a huge amount of natural aptitude. 

We’re Still Here 

While Saathoff, Drane, and Lowe (he of two wins and four podiums in his last five outings) have hogged the spotlight as of late, don’t forget about the two riders who may have been viewed as the biggest threats to Kopp’s title defense prior to the start of the season. 

Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) and Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) are still there, lurking there in fourth and fifth, respectively, and primed for monster second halves. 

It didn’t come as a huge shock that Kopp was beaten by smaller riders on faster bikes at the Miles. But Whale also outplaced him three races running despite a similarly lanky frame and identical equipment. 

And while Kopp may be the class’ Half-Mile maestro, Whale boasts four career Half-Mile victories himself.  

The Aussie has also proven a stronger TT rider and better Miler than the defending champ to date, so the shape of the season may well set the stage for a comeback. 

2022 was supposed to be Whale’s year, but injury prevented him from stepping forward the way most expected he would. Instead, it was new Red Bull KTM teammate Kopp who ascended.  

But don’t forget that he’s a two-time class runner-up, and one who actually won more races than Mission SuperTwins title leader Daniels head-to-head in 2021, 5-4. 

Brunner, meanwhile, ended 2022 like gangbusters. He opened ‘23 with similar form, upping his hot streak to six podiums in eight races with a third-place finish at the DAYTONA ST I opener. 

He’s now gone eight races without a podium ever since. At the same time, he’s finished no lower than sixth, notching up three fourths, one fifth, and four sixths. 

Last year, the Estenson Racing ace had to find just the right amount of aggressiveness to capitalize on his natural tools without pushing things too far. Perhaps he’s in need of another modulation. 

This is pretty much the same time he turned it on a year ago. A similar run could elevate him back to serious contender status. 

Halfway Home 

Here are a few numbers from the first half of the ‘23 season: 

9Races, just listed to serve as a frame of reference 

9Points separate first and second 

6: Times different manufacturers have finished 1st and 2nd 

5: Wins by Jared Mees 

3: Wins by Jared Mees all last year 

2: Times three different makes have been one the box in a single race 

0: Podium lockouts by a single manufacturer 

Swings of Momentum 

Even more than in the premier class, the Parts Unlimited AFT Singles class has shifted radically  alongside a slate custom-designed for runs of form. That’s expected to continue as we now head into four consecutive Half-Miles followed by three straight TTs. 

Consider the case for KTM: 

The Austrian manufacturer won the season’s first four races courtesy of four different riders, and five of the first six, while sweeping the podium in Arizona. 

By contrast, KTM is not just winless in the last three races, they’ve missed the podium altogether in four of the last five. 

On the season, KTM has ten podiums, nine of which came in the first four races. 

Again, this wasn’t entirely unexpected. And neither would a return to its early-season form starting this weekend. 

SuperTwins Round 9

Singles standings

Broacast Schedule_lima

About Progressive American Flat Track

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