ODESSA, Mo. — The Progressive American Flat Track season resumes with Saturday’s inaugural I-70 Half-Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle of Kansas City.
The stop at the newly revived I-70 Motorsports Park represents Progressive AFT’s long-awaited return to Missouri, 17 seasons after the championship last visited State Fair Speedway in Sedalia.
The season has already taken on an interesting shape. It was widely expected that the premier Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycleclass would once again be a battle for supremacy between reigning champion Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) and rival Briar Bauman (No. 3 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750).
That has proven true, as the Indian Wrecking Crew superstars have split the season’s two available wins and are currently separated by a single point atop the standings.
However, the efforts to level the playing field have yielded early dividends, as five different riders out of a possible six, representing three different manufacturers, have stood upon the podium this year.
Yamaha-mounted J.D. Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) stands as the only rider with a perfect podium.
His teammate, Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT), has proven nearly as successful, and the two threaten to collect race wins in the near future.
Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Latus Motors Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R), Mission Roof Systems teammates Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) and Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750), and last year’s finale winner Davis Fisher (No. 67 Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750) are just a sampling of the riders with the potential to factor up front this weekend.
Defending Mission Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines king Cory Texter (No. 1 G&G Racing/Yamaha Racing Yamaha MT-07) rebounded at the Texas half-mile following a difficult opener. Despite tricky conditions and a series of stoppages, Texter controlled the main event at Texas Motor Speedway to remind everyone why he’s the one brandishing the No. 1 plate on his machine.
Nick Armstrong (No. 60 Competitive Racing Frames/Lessley Brothers Yamaha MT-07) provided evidence that his virtuoso performance at the opening round was no fluke, logging a fourth-place result as an encore. That result puts him in front of the early-season championship chase heading to Odessa.
Meanwhile, a number of the category’s usual suspects – Ben Lowe (No. 25 Helipower Racing/Mission Foods Harley-Davidson XG750R), Jesse Janisch (No. 33 Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson XG750R), Kolby Carlile (No. 36 KC36 Las Vegas Harley-Davidson XG750R), and Dan Bromley (No. 62 Vinson Construction, Viper Air Yamaha MT-07) – have already marked up podium finishes this season.
Top honors Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER are seemingly always up for grabs, as the class features a deep pool of both hard-charging youngsters and battle-proven veterans aboard a range of equipment backed with factory support from multiple manufacturers.
However, while the list of potential winners extends into the double digits, an early pecking order headlined by the preseason favorites is already starting to take shape.
Sophomore ace Kody Kopp (No. 12 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-FFE) and his two-time class runner-up teammate, Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-FFE), currently sit first and third in the championship standings.
Meanwhile, American Honda teammates Morgen Mischler (No. 13 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R) and Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R) – the riders many would have pegged as the most likely to prevent this year’s title hunt from turning into a factory KTM intrateam affair – are currently ranked second and fourth.
While those four expect to continue to jockey for position as the championship campaign develops, a number of others could easily work their way into the mix as well.
Trent Lowe (No. 48 Mission Foods/Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda CRF450R), Michael Inderbitzin (No. 54 1st Impressions Services of Florida Honda CRF450R), Chase Saathoff (No. 106 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R), Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), and Brandon Kitchen (No. 80 Vance & Hines/Husqvarna Motorcycles Husqvarna FC450), among several others, all have the requisite speed and ability to walk away from I-70 Motorsports Park with the winner’s trophy.