SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Progressive American Flat Track legend Jared Mees overcame a checkered flag challenge from rival Briar Bauman to reign victorious in Sunday’s Memphis Shades Springfield Mile I presented by Law Tigers at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Five minutes into the 14-minute-plus-two-lap Main, an early eight-rider lead group had whittled down to a six-rider pack consisting of Mees, Bauman, Brandon Robinson, Sammy Halbert, Brandon Price and Jarod Vanderkooi. It would remain that way for the bulk of the contest.
A final lap showdown between Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle title rivals Mees and Bauman only took shape once the race dipped under the three-minute mark. Vanderkooi was the first to drop out with a mechanical issue. Halbert would follow for the same reason with less than a minute on the clock, while Price simply could no longer hold the pace at that point.
Then Robinson lost touch with the draft as the leaders took the final lap, leaving just Mees and Bauman to determine the victor.
While Mees and Robinson had swapped the lead back and forth throughout much of the race, defending double Mission SuperTwins Champion Bauman showed off a high-low line late that provided him a potential pathway to glory. Indeed, he attempted to replicate it in Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap but came up just inches short of slotting ahead of Mees as they streaked toward the checkered flag.
Mees then held on to win by .116 seconds with Robinson rounding out the podium another 0.205 seconds back.
The victory was Mees’ sixth-career Springfield Mile triumph, including four of the last five. Referencing the fact that he and his wife, Nichole, will also serve as the race promoter for the series’ crown jewel event starting in 2022, he said, “I love the Springfield Mile. I figured if I’m gonna own it, I’ve got to win it, right?”
A frustrated Bauman made it clear in Victory Circle that he considered Mees’ tactics unsafe and added that his plan would be to “not get mad, get even” in Monday’s rematch.
Robinson’s teammate, Price, finished fourth with an impressive Kolby Carlile collecting his third-career premier-class top-five in what proved to be an attrition-filled Main.
Included in that list of DNFs were high-profile wild cards Jeffrey Carver Jr. and Bryan Smith, who were both early retirements.
Dallas Daniels continues to check off items from his boyhood bucket list as he marches his way to Progressive AFT superstardom. The 18-year-old prodigy dominated the Springfield Mile in his first attempt, winning Sunday’s AFT Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines Main Event.
The victory follows his Friday AFT Singles sweep, setting the stage for a possible Springfield quadruple come Monday’s Springfield Mile II. And if that wasn’t enough, Daniels also pocketed an extra $5,000 for winning the Memphis Shades Babe DeMay Challenge dash for cash.
Daniels now boasts two wins and a runner-up finish in his three career AFT Production Twins starts.
“I’ve been dreaming a long time just to race the racetrack, let alone win it and break the draft,” Daniels said. “It was a fairy-tale day — fast qualifier, win the Semi, win the dash, and win the Main Event. It’s insane. I can’t believe I won the Springfield Mile. There’s a lot of bad dudes that have won here, and my name is on the list. Now I want to win it in the big class too.”
Vance & Hines’ talented trio gave chase early before settling into a strong 2-3-4 finish. Second-place went to Morgen Mischler, who adopted Daniels’ low line to power away from his temporary teammates, while Chad Cose drafted past Jesse Janisch at the line to secure the final spot on the box.
Tanner Dean inherited fifth after Jeremiah Duffy encountered issues, leaving Cose as the only class regular to finish in the top five.
As a result, an uncharacteristic seventh-place finish on the part of Cory Texter was actually a positive day for his championship campaign, especially with Dalton Gauthier still on the mend and Dan Bromley suffering a mechanical problem of his own.
Texter is now 59 points up on Gauthier and 65 up on Bromley, making a Monday championship clinch an unlikely-but-not-impossible scenario.