DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — J.D. Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) strengthened his claim as one of the greatest TT riders in the long history of Progressive American Flat Track, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing on Sunday afternoon.
The Estenson Racing hero was his spectacular self in the 76th running of the World Famous SC2 Peoria TT presented by Country Saloon, once again dominating at the Peoria Motorcycle Club in Peoria, Illinois.
While obvious in hindsight, that end result wasn’t quite so easy to predict while the day unfolded. Reigning Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle king Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) was fastest in practice, Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) took control during qualifying, and Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke) won the four-lap Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, but come the Main Event it was all Beach.
Beach then seemingly robbed the race of all drama from the start, slotting into the lead off the line and clearing off at the front.
Even the race behind Beach settled into a seemingly processional affair – emphasis on “seemingly” – as Daniels held down second, followed by Bauman and Mees. But with Beach several seconds out in front and just one lap and one corner to go, the championship chase was thrown with a wicked curveball.
Positioned to stretch out his points lead, Daniels lost the front and crashed from the race, bringing out a very late red flag. However, when presented with the threat of a title-sinking disaster, his crew rose to the occasion, repairing the #32 bike’s broken shifter with just seconds to spare before the restart.
Having lapped all the way up to sixth, Daniels was gifted a most fortunate position on the staggered restart grid. Once back underway, race-long leader Beach survived the three-lap shootout to secure his eighth TT win in his last nine attempts, with Bauman collecting second and Mees taking third.
Beach said, “I’ve just got to thank my crew. This day was hard. I felt good all day but my times were only okay. I was sitting third or fourth pretty much all day. In the Main, I was just like, ‘I’ve got to do my work.’ I got a great start and I just kept doing my laps. I messed up once over the jump and I messed up once in Turn 3. I could hear my bike so I thought it was Dallas right on me. It’s a bummer for him and the team for him to go down with two laps to go, but it was a great race.”
Bummer, yes, but ultimately, Daniels didn’t just salvage enough points to stay alive, he came home with a solid fifth-place result behind Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Indian FTR750). Despite losing his title lead and seeing his season-long 13-race podium streak come to an end, the championship hopeful walked away from Peoria facing just a one-point deficit to Mees (296-295) even after the near catastrophe.
Peoria TT legend Henry Wiles (No. 17 BriggsAuto.com/Martin Trucking Indian FTR750) was the final rider remaining on the lead lap in sixth, while Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield 650), Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750), Ben Lowe (No. 25 Rackley Racing/Mission Foods Indian FTR750), and Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) rounded out the top ten, respectively.
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) scored his first victory of ‘23 in a surprising conclusion to a topsy-turvy Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER Main Event.
Prior to a mid-race red flag, teammates Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) and Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) had put themselves in first and second.
Kopp took the lead after successive overtakes of Estenson Racing teammates Brunner and Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), while, Whale had a bigger job for himself after slipping back to sixth early despite starting from the front row.
By the time Whale stormed around the outside of Drane to move into second, Kopp had opened up nearly a one-second-plus lead at the front. Whale’s uphill climb was made substantially less steep due to the red flag, which resulted in a staggered restart with just over three minutes remaining on the clock.
With all of the focus on the reset Red Bull KTM brawl for the win, red-hot Drane had another idea. The up-and-coming Aussie jumped out into the lead and displayed renewed strength, actually pulling away from Kopp, Brunner, and Whale with relative ease.
But Drane’s cruise to the checkered flag was interrupted, due to the appearance of a second red flag, which resulted in one final restart with just three laps to determine the winner.
This proved to be Brunner’s golden opportunity, after previously looking to be out of victory contention. The Indiana native blasted off the line and won out in the opening-corner melee, seizing the lead ahead of Drane and Kopp.
He then held on in the brief showdown to claim the win before his rivals had a chance to mount an effective counter. Drane picked up his seventh podium in his last eight outings by finishing 0.230 seconds behind in second position while Kopp solidified his championship advantage in third.
“This is awesome,” Brunner said. “We were pulling starts really well today, but we were having trouble getting out of the ‘flat track’ corners. We were kind of struggling with traction getting out of there, so each restart really benefited me a lot because I was able to come back. The last one, I got a great start and really pulled it out.”
Two-time Peoria TT winner Whale came home fourth a little over a second off the win with Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F) nipping at his rear wheel in fifth.
Meanwhile, Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) finished sixth with Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), Chad Cose (No. 49 1st Impressions Race Team/Husqvarna Racing FC450), Morgen Mischler (No. 13 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), and Jared Lowe (No. 63 Mission Foods/Helmet House Honda CRF450R) completed the top ten.
Kopp still leads by a healthy 40 points over Brunner (273-233) as Drane continued his climb up the order, now ranked third at 228.