DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The dream season of ascending Progressive American Flat Track star Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) continued with his convincing victory in Saturday night’s inaugural Ventura Short Track at Ventura Raceway in Ventura, California.
As impressive as he was a year ago as a Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle rookie, Daniels has taken his game to the next level in 2023. The prodigious teenager extended his unblemished run of firsts and seconds this season with a calm and controlled performance en route to the top step on the box at the scenic ocean-adjacent venue.
Daniels’ teammate, J.D. Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT), shot off the line in first but held the position for less than a single quick circulation of the one-fifth-mile clay oval. Beach did well to keep Daniels honest after being dropped to second and even reeled him back in at one point. But the relentless perfection of the title leader gradually stacked up to a near one-second advantage by the time the Main Event was seven minutes deep, with reigning champion Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) significantly further back in third.
Just when the podium order seemed all but academic, a red-flag reset occurred after Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) came out the worst of an accordion-style crash that marred the multi-rider fight for fourth. Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Indian FTR750) got into the back of Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield 650), leading directly to Robinson’s spill. The fallen Robinson was subsequently clipped by Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Dodge Bros. Racing/Martin Trucking Harley-Davidson XR750) forcing a stoppage in the action.
But even after Beach, Mees, and the field being given a second chance, little changed at the front following the staggered restart. Daniels simply went back to piling up his advantage, ultimately scooping up a third win of the year to go with his three runner-ups.
Beach completed the Estenson Racing Yamaha 1-2, while Mees managed to score podium points on a night he never really felt at home on the track.
Likewise, two-time Grand National Champion Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 890 Duke) came away with fourth after running as low as ninth early.
Lewis held on for his second top five of the season in fifth, followed closely to the line by Halbert and Bauman’s younger sibling, Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Fastrack Racing/2 Wheelz KTM 890 Duke).
Kolby Carlile (No. 36 G&G Racing/Yamaha Racing Yamaha MT-07) picked up his best result of the season in eighth, while Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750) and Vanderkooi rounded out the top ten.
As a result of the third triumph of his sophomore campaign, Daniels tightened his grip on the title fight. He opened his lead to 24 points over Mees (138-114) a third of the way into the season, while Beach moved back ahead of Bauman for third (97-94).
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
Like Daniels, Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) earned the third win of his 2023 season as he continued his Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER title defense in stellar fashion.
However, in contrast to his twin victory cruises at the DAYTONA double opener, Kopp was pushed to the brink by a hungry Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) under the lights at Ventura Raceway.
After a handful of hectic early laps, the two shook free from Saathoff’s Turner Racing teammates, Morgen Mischler (No. 13 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) and Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R). From that point on, the race became a two-rider duel for top honors.
While Kopp controlled the bulk of the tense contest from the front, the Honda pilot threw in a few late haymakers, including a skittering, crisscrossing double lead change that got the fans on their feet with less than 30 seconds remaining on the clock.
But a last-lap encore wasn’t in the cards, as a minor moment on Saathoff’s part with two laps to go allowed Kopp just enough air to power to the checkered flag firework-free.
Kopp said, “Chase is a helluva competitor. He was my fiercest rival and competitor growing up on 85s, 250s, and 450s. Man, that was probably the most fun race I’ve ever had – we were squaring each other up. I hope it was a fun one to watch.”
Mischler held off Kopp’s charging teammate, Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F), to pick up his second consecutive podium, while Estenson Racing Yamaha’s Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) charged his way forward to fifth after getting off the line in ninth.
Dallas winner Lowe came home sixth, while Brunner’s Estenson Racing Yamaha teammate, Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), took seventh. Cole Frederickson (No. 151 Lehmann Racing/Miller Tree Service Honda CRF450R) fifth eighth, followed by Justin Jones (No. 91 NRC Racing/Elder Trucking KTM 450 SX-F).
Kopp’s closest title rival, Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F) was the final rider in the top ten. That allowed Kopp to press his advantage up to a healthy 19 points (127-108) with Whale third at 102 and the on-form Saathoff fourth with 97.