How to Watch & What to Watch: Orange County Half-Mile

Orange County Half-Mile - How to watch [678]

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – July 7, 2023 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – is the live streaming home of Progressive American Flat Track. Complete coverage of this Saturday’s Orange County Half-Mile at Orange County Fair Speedway will kick off with the day’s first practice session at 4:30 p.m. ET (1:30 p.m. PT). FOX Sports coverage of the Orange County Half-Mile, featuring in-depth features and thrilling onboard cameras, will premiere on FS1 on Sunday, July 16, at 2:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. PT). 

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WV Highlights

Event Rewind: All Seasons Powersports West Virginia Half-Mile Event Highlights

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Progressive AFT Returns to Orange County Fair Speedway for First Time in 35 Years

Jared Mees is in position to rewrite history when Progressive AFT returns to Middletown, New York, for the first time in more than three decades. Read More

A Tribe of GOATs

Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) is one checkered flag short and perhaps only days away from doing what was once unthinkable: relegating Scott Parker to second place on the all-time Half-Mile wins list. 

And as Mees continues to further strengthen his position in the history books, naturally the conversation turns to the reigning Mission SuperTwins champ’s placement among the all-time greats. Of course, that’s a question that can never truly be answered definitively, but there is a conversation to be had. 

One would think the simplest way to determine the GNC GOAT would be via sheer number of Grand National Championships. And that does play a huge role. 

Parker leads that list, racking up nine GNCs over an eleven-year stretch (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998). 

That’s a total Mees is closing in on as well, although exactly how close he now stands requires some clarification. He earned the 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2021, and 2022 Grand National Championships in conventional fashion. He also won the 2009 and 2011 GNC1 Twins Championships and the 2012 GNC1 Singles Championship. 

One can make a compelling argument that since no combined Grand National Championships were awarded from 2006-2009, Mees’ ‘09 GNC1 Twins title counts toward his official grand total, upping it to eight and just one away from equaling Parker in that category as well. 

General sentiment seems to lean in that direction, although it is not universally accepted. It’s also been argued that the Grand National Championship is meant to recognize total mastery of the sport and its four (remaining) disciplines – Mile, Half-Mile, TT, and Short Track – and that is something the split GNC1 titles were not intended to do. 

Although again, due to a global pandemic, the 2020 season didn’t include any TTs and no one is questioning the legitimacy of Briar Bauman’s (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke) second Grand National Championship victory. 

Ultimately, simply counting up GNCs is not as clean a method of GOAT herding as it might otherwise be. Fortunately, it’s not the only method available to us. 

Another way to rank historically great riders is to look at their Main Event victories. Here Parker again leads the way, with 94 wins. That puts him a full 25 victories ahead of Mees, however, that’s now entirely down to Parker’s mile-long list of Mile triumphs. 

If we’re considering all-around dirt track mastery, it merits mention that as Mees is set to move ahead of Parker in terms of Half-Mile wins, he already leads him in TT and ST victories. 

Here’s where they rank on the all-time lists of combined wins and by discipline: 

Scott Parker

Total Wins: 94 (1st) 

  • Miles: 55 (1st) 
  • Half-Miles: 35 (1st – tied) 
  • TTs: 1 (37th – tied) 
  • STs: 3 (16th – tied) 

Jared Mees

Total Wins: 69 (3rd) 

  • Miles: 26 (3rd) 
  • Half-Miles: 35 (1st – tied) 
  • TTs: 2 (25th – tied) 
  • STs: 6 (4th – tied) 

In that sense, Mees’ rankings of 3-1-25-4 compares pretty favorably with Parker’s 1-1-37-16 (soon to be 1-2-37-16). If we’re scoring this like golf, where the lowest number wins, Mees’ combined rankings by discipline of 33 beats Parker’s 55. 

Then again, if we’re stacking greats in this manner, Chris Carr looms large indeed. A titan of versatility who was also a pole-winning factory Superbike pilot and land-speed record holder, Carr put together some stunning GNC numbers of his own. 

While he owns seven Grand National Championships (1992, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005), Carr shines the brightest when put under the discipline wins ranking microscope. 

Chris Carr

Total Wins: 78 (2nd) 

  • Miles: 29 (2nd) 
  • Half-Miles: 25 (4th) 
  • TTs: 15 (2nd) 
  • STs: 9 (1st – tied) 

Carr’s 2-4-2-1 (for a combined tally of 9) makes a loud statement, but is in no way the final word. 

There are countless other variables and factors that can be included in each individual’s personal GOAT calculator. But the fact that we’re able to witness Mees actively build his argument – while at the same time Bauman and Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) are in the early stages of formulating their own for future discussions – should not be taken for granted. 

Black Hills Rising

Speaking of, everything seems to be going Mees’ way these days, including an updated ‘23 slate. 

In addition to closing to within five points of the championship lead, Mees’ title defense looked just a bit stronger as an unintended consequence of the news that the Black Hills Half-Mile would replace the Buffalo Chip TT during this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally due to inclement weather preventing the construction of the latter’s purpose-built TT course. 

The TTs seem especially precarious for Mees, not only because Dallas Daniels holds a (minor) head-to-head advantage over him in the discipline, but also due to the extraordinary TT skills of JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) and Bauman. Simply climbing on the podium at those rounds may be a tall order, and there’s a real opportunity for Daniels’ to slot a rider or two between him and Mees if things work out as he hopes (and/or if teamwork comes into play). 

By contrast, Mees not only holds a 35-0 career Half-Mile wins advantage over his young challenger, the factory Indian pilot also boasts three prior victories at Black Hills Speedway on his scoresheet (‘15, ‘17, and ‘18). 

Daniels is far from helpless on the Half-Miles, however. During his young Mission SuperTwins career, he’s logged career finishes of fourth or better in eight of nine attempts. And he’s gotten stronger as he’s gained in experience as well, scoring a pair of runner-ups and a third thus far in ‘23. 

He also managed to win five Half-Miles in 2020 en route to the first of his back-to-back Parts Unlimited AFT Singles crowns. 

A maiden premier-class HM win can’t be too far away for Daniels. He’s got to hope the first comes yet this season, a year in which no one can expect to back into the Grand National Championship. 

Put Some Respect on His Name

On more than one occasion in the past, Dan Bromley (No. 62 HRP Racing/Memphis Shades/Mike Vinson/Corbin Yamaha MT-07) has used his time on the mic during a podium ceremony to cast shade on his doubters after feeling overlooked. 

And you know what? He was probably justified in doing so. It’s become all too easy to overlook Bromley as he’s transitioned to a part-time schedule – although it’s certainly more difficult to do when he’s duking it out with the likes of Daniels, Beach, and Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750) for the podium as he did this past weekend. 

Bromley deserves genuine respect for what he’s done the past few seasons across classes and full/part-time status: 

A year ago, in eight Mission Production Twins starts, he scored eight podium finishes, including six runner-ups. He then turned those finishes into Mission SuperTwins top tens on five occasions. 

In 2021, he notched up seven Mission Production Twins, including a win, to end the season ranked third in the class. 

In 2020, he notched up back-to-back premier-class top fives while earning three such finishes on the season. 

In 2019, he racked up nine Parts Unlimited AFT Singles podiums en route to a third-place championship standing. 

And in 2018, he won the Parts Unlimited AFT Singles title with 14 podiums, including four victories. 

Everyone knows the guy can ride, but it’s probably a good thing to acknowledge just how accomplished he really is every now and again. 

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Backstretch Brunner

Last weekend, Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) looked like the rider everyone expected to see from the start of the ‘23 season as he fought for victory in West Virginia. It took Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) being Kody Kopp to prevent the Estenson Racing pilot from earning his first win of the season. Even that might not be enough in the near future if Brunner continues to replicate his 2022 trendline. 

Last year, Brunner earned one podium over the season’s opening half. He then went on to score five podiums and two wins during the second half. 

This season, he again earned a single podium in the opening half of the season. And now just two races into the second half, he already has one podium and is gearing up for another big run with an upcoming slate featuring three venues at which he finished inside the top three a year ago. 

It won’t take too much improvement to light up the stretch run. Somehow in a class as deep and close as Parts Unlimited AFT Singles, Brunner has yet to finish worse than sixth, despite logging just two podiums in 11 starts. 

With his bike and brain that much more dialed in, Brunner could be a real factor from here on out. And like Mees, he should benefit from the addition of the Black Hills Half-Mile, a race he won in 2022. 

Battle for Second

While Kopp currently enjoys a substantial title lead, the chase for second is cracking. 

40 points separate Kopp from his second-ranked teammate, Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F), Meanwhile, just 12 points separate Whale from countryman Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), who is ranked seventh. 

And stacked up between Whale and Drane is a whole lot of talent: Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), the aforementioned BrunnerDalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F), and Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) 

Oh Yes, They Call Him the Streak

Jared Mees and Briar Bauman have combined to own the top of the Grand National Championship standings since 2017 due to their respective ability to finish on the podium with stunning regularity.  

As such, modern Progressive AFT history has seen an inordinate number of extended podium streaks. 

And yet, Daniels is on the verge of stringing together a podium streak longer than either of his more experienced rivals have ever managed. 

Here’s a look at the longest podium streaks dating back to the 2009 season: 

  • Dallas Daniels: 11 (2023 – active) 
  • Jared Mees: 11 (2018) 
  • Jared Mees: 10 (2017-2018) 
  • Jared Mees: 9 (2021) 
  • Briar Bauman: 9 (2020) 
  • Jared Mees: 9 (2016-2017) 
  • Jared Mees: 8 (2019-2020) 
  • Briar Bauman: 7 (2021) 
  • Briar Bauman: 7 (2019) 
  • Briar Bauman: 7 (2019 – he did it twice in the same season) 

A quick note: Mees had the 2018 Atlanta ST win stripped due to a rulebook violation. If that had not occurred and you assume all subsequent finishes would have still gone down as they did, he would have registered a wild 22-race podium streak in 2017-2018, consisting of 17 victories and five runner-ups. 

Mission Improbable

Kody Kopp continues to climb the career Parts Unlimited AFT Singles wins list. With a victory this weekend, he’ll slot into a tie for second place on the all-time order and move that much closer to the mark posted by Shayna Texter-Bauman (No. 52 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 450 SX-F). 

Here’s how it stands now: 

  • Shayna Texter-Bauman: 19 
  • Dallas Daniels: 13 
  • Dalton Gauthier: 13 
  • Kody Kopp: 12 
  • Ryan Wells: 9 
  • Max Whale: 8 
  • Brad Baker: 8 

If you do the math, you’ll see it’s technically possible for Kopp to tie Texter-Bauman this season, although the perfect run of wins from here on out that would require is extraordinarily unlikely. 

If Kopp returns to the class again in ‘24, though, Texter-Bauman’s place at the top of the charts could come under real threat. 

But that “if” is an interesting question. 

Kopp is working the first of a two-year deal that will see him continue with the Red Bull KTM squad through at least the 2024 season. Exactly what class he’ll compete in next season has not been specified as of yet. 

It’ll be fascinating to see how KTM approaches the Mission SuperTwins category in the future, especially in light of Briar Bauman’s recent success. 

Either way, watching Kopp either chase historic numbers in Parts Unlimited AFT Singles for another season or begin to etch out a place for himself amongst the Mees-Daniels-Bauman-led hierarchy in Mission SuperTwins will be worth the price of admission.  

SuperTwins Round 11

Round 11 Singles

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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.

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