DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Progressive American Flat Track, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, completes its run of four consecutive Half-Miles with this weekend’s inaugural Drag Specialties Bridgeport Half-Mile in Swedesboro, New Jersey, on Saturday, July 22.
The event will not just be Progressive AFT’s debut visit to Bridgeport Speedway, it’ll mark the very first time in the track’s half-century-plus history that motorcycles have raced at the venue. And the series is primed to impress with multiple riders performing at historic levels.
Reigning Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle champion and new points leader Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) headlines that group. Mees, who recently became the winningest Half-Miler in the storied history of the Grand National Championship, is riding as well as he ever has during his record-smashing career. The factory Indian pilot comes into New Jersey having already earned seven victories on the season, including five in his last six attempts.
And yet, Mees only leads the points chase by two points. That’s primarily because his impressive eight-race podium streak is still four fewer than the perfect 12-for-12 podium mark posted by Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT). While rising star has been remarkably consistent all year long, he now finds himself somewhere other atop the points standings for the first time in ‘23. As a result, Daniels is eager to strike back with a return to the top step on the podium.
That task has become that much more more daunting as of late now that two-time premier-class champion Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke) and his Rick Ware Racing KTM have established themselves as the third rider/manufacturer combo capable of contending for checkered flags week-in and week-out.
The collective greatness of Mees, Daniels, and now Bauman has raised the level necessary to compete for victory. That said, the likes of JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT), Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750), Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750), Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Indian FTR750), Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Fastrack Racing/2 Wheelz KTM 790 Duke), and Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield 650) have shown to be up to that challenge in the past and will look to do so again this weekend.
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
Defending Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER champ Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) has made good on the predictions that he would distance himself from his pursuers during the season’s run of Half-Miles. He comes into Bridgeport Speedway boasting a three-race win streak and a 47-point advantage with designs of further extending both marks.
As a result, the intrigue has shifted to the close fight for the positions behind first, where a single tough outing can see a rider drop from second in the title hunt to seventh, as was the case with Kopp’s teammate, Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F), last time out.
Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) has taken control of the runner-up position. That’s a spot he’s grown all too familiar with as he’s reeled in five second-place finishes already this season while in search of his maiden Progressive AFT victory.
Third-ranked Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) is also looking for his first win of the year. Meanwhile, the riders now positioned fourth-through-seventh – Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F), and Whale – have combined the earn six wins, together matching the number Kopp has taken by himself.
Any number of others could join that list of ‘23 winners, including big names Morgen Mischler (No. 13 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), James Ott (No. 19 1st Impressions Race Team/Husqvarna Racing FC450), Chad Cose (No. 49 1st Impressions Race Team/Husqvarna Racing FC450), and Shayna Texter-Bauman (No. 52 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 450 SX-F).