Progressive American Flat Track is set to visit the Lima Half-Mile on June 25. (AFT photo)

Progressive AFT Set To Visit Lima Half-Mile

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Progressive American Flat Track tour will arrive at one of its most challenging and revered events this weekend with the Mission Lima Half-Mile in Ohio on Saturday, June 25.

The pea-gravel cushion half-mile pushes competitors to their physical limit while testing their mental strength as well, offering a variety of line choices while often delivering outstanding racing.

Reigning Mission SuperTwins champion Jared Mees has proven himself a master of the demanding battleground time and time again. The current points leader has reigned supreme at the Lima Half-Mile on five separate occasions, dating back to his very first premier-class victory in 2005.

That sterling track record is fitting as Mees is not just one of the most successful riders in the event’s history, he and his wife Nichole also serve as the race’s promoters.

However, it hasn’t prevented the track from biting him on occasion, including the time Mees failed to make the main event in 2017 and last season when he mustered an eighth-place finish.

While Mees struggled here a year ago, fellow Indian Wrecking Crew member Briar Bauman shined, earning his second victory of the ‘21 season. It wasn’t his first win at Lima, as Bauman actually earned his first win aboard a twin-cylinder at the track back in 2017.

He’ll look to pull off a similar trick this year at a venue that’s well suited to his riding style.

While the Mees/Bauman rivalry has dominated headlines for the last three seasons, they currently find themselves in the midst of an intense four-way battle that also involves Estenson Racing Yamaha teammates Dallas Daniels and JD Beach.

Daniels and Beach are currently ranked second and fourth in the points, respectively.

The Yamaha teammates have made history in recent weeks while claiming two of the last three races. If either rider manages to take another victory this weekend, it will be Yamaha’s first win at the Lima Half-Mile, regardless of category.

Another story to keep tabs on is the performance of Brandon Price.

Price has raced an Indian and a Kawasaki already this season, and will now compete aboard a KTM Duke 890. This change comes less than a month after James Rispoli demonstrated the potential of the platform with a podium as a Mission Production Twins Challenge entrant at the Red Mile.

Mission Production Twins

Following the lightning fast start of Nick Armstrong, the Mission Production Twins title fight has trended in the direction of a two-rider showdown featuring defending champion Cory Texter and points leader Jesse Janisch.

While Texter and Janisch have separated themselves from the pack in the points race, there have been five different winners in just six races. 

One rider still looking for their first victory this season is last year’s Lima Half-Mile winner Johnny Lewis. The Royal Enfield appears to be more potent than ever, but misfortune has prevented Lewis from finishing on the podium yet this season.

A return to Lima could be exactly what’s needed to get the program back on track.

Parts Unlimited AFT Singles

Kody Kopp was in commanding form at the Laconia Short Track, building up his Parts Unlimited AFT Singles title lead with a thoroughly dominating performance to claim his third win of the season.

Second-ranked Morgen Mischler and third-ranked Max Whale — who aims to return to action post-surgery in Lima — will need to strike back in a significant way in order to keep Kopp in their sights.

Fortunately for them, both riders were podium performers at Lima a year ago.

The 2019 series champion Dalton Gauthier is just two points adrift of Whale and has both the time and talent required to claw his way back into the championship chase.

While the usual suspects lock down their positions at the top of the order, a number of other riders have threatened to break through with a win of their own, including the likes of Trent Lowe, Chase Saathoff and Trevor Brunner.