DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Progressive American Flat Track season resumes with this weekend’s high-profile Mission Dallas Half-Mile presented by Roof Systems at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas on April 22.
Progressive AFT’s annual trek to the Dallas-Fort Worth area always carries heightened significance due to its status as the home event for some of the series’ strongest allies, partners, and teams, including Mission Foods, Roof Systems of Dallas, Texas, and Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda.
And this year, the stop always represents the first of five half-miles that will play such a critical role in determining the Championship. It couldn’t have come at a better time for reigning Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle champion Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750), who enters the weekend third in the points after a late crash at the Arizona Super TT cost him a potential podium.
Mees ranks as one of the greatest half-milers in the history of the sport. His 33 career victories – including two of his three wins last season – put him just two off the all-time mark currently held by the legendary Scott Parker.
That said, Mees’ half-mile supremacy has been challenged as of late by Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 890 Duke). The two-time Mission SuperTwins champion earned a pair of HM wins of his own a year ago and also happened to double in runaway fashion the last time Progressive AFT visited Devil’s Bowl Speedway back in 2020.
The Dallas Half-Mile will be an important test for the Estenson Racing Yamaha duo of Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) and J.D. Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT), who currently rank 1-2 in the points.
The pair have combined for nine wins since the start of the ‘22 season, yet none have come on half-miles. Daniels does have an impressive track record at this venue, however, scoring both wins in ‘20 en route to the first of two support class titles earned prior to his graduation to the ranks of the premier class.
Like Mees and Bauman, Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) scooped two half-mile wins last season. He’ll be motivated to score a strong performance as he defends his team’s and sponsors’ home turf, especially in the wake of twin outings hindered by practice crashes.
Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Indian FTR750) was the only other rider to win at least one half-mile a year ago. He’s not the only other with the potential to win this weekend, however, with the likes of Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Fastrack Racing/2 Wheelz KTM 890 Duke), Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750), Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield 650), and Brandon Price (No. 92 Steve Watt Enterprises/Maxwell Industries Harley-Davidson XG750R) among those also lining the grid.
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
As strong as defending Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER champion and current points leader Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) has looked early in his title defense, we’ve yet to see him where he shines the brightest.
That changes now. Kopp’s blowout championship triumph a year ago was built in large part on his half-mile excellence, as he earned five of his seven victories at that distance.
His two closest rivals are strong half-milers as well, however. Second-ranked Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F) stood atop the podium in the most recent HM, which took place at Voluisia Speedway Park in the 2022 season finale. Meanwhile, Kopp’s teammate Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) boasts four career half-mile wins himself.
And don’t forget about Shayna Texter-Bauman (No. 52 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 450 SX-F), who just so happens to own more half-mile victories than any other rider in Parts Unlimited AFT Singles history with 11 such wins to her name.
Last year’s victory in Dallas-Fort Worth went to Morgen Mischler (No. 13 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) albeit at Texas Motor Speedway. While KTM-mounted riders have swept the season’s first four rounds, it seems like only a matter of time before Mischler or one of his Turner Racing Honda teammates, Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) and Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), put an end to that streak.
They’ll be joined in the effort by Estenson Racing Yamaha’s Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) and Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), along with 1st Impressions Husqvarna’s James Ott (No. 19 1st Impressions Race Team/Husqvarna Racing FC450) and Chad Cose (No. 49 1st Impressions Race Team/Husqvarna Racing FC450) – every one of whom has teased top-of-the-podium pace at one point or another early in ‘23.
Another rider to monitor on Saturday is Tanner Dean (No. 38 Waters Autobody Racing KTM 450 SX-F), who finished on the box here back in 2020.
The Dallas Half-Mile will also feature the eagerly awaited opening round of the 2023 edition of Royal Enfield’s hugely successful Build. Train. Race. (BTR) program, which highlights, celebrates, and encourages the involvement of women in flat track racing. Since its inception, BTR has injected new talent into Progressive AFT events across the nation, welcoming both experienced and beginner racers to compete aboard customized INT650 motorcycles.