DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Progressive American Flat Track, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, is set to showcase its thrilling Grand National Championship title fight before a rapt audience of diehard motorcycle enthusiasts at this weekend’s The City of Sturgis Black Hills Half-Mile presented by Black Hills Harley-Davidson at Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, South Dakota, on August 6.
The high-profile event will be featured at this year’s 83rd Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – which is expected to draw more than 500,000 attendees – and comes just a week removed from an explosive Peoria TT that had the potential to completely upset a raging Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle championship battle.
Ultimately, however, the dramatic affair resulted in just a three-point swing at the top of the order. That was enough, however, to move reigning class king Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) back into first, one point ahead of his young challenger, Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT).
While still very much either riders’ championship to win, the outcome in Peoria could still prove pivotal. Rather than looking to gain back ground at Black Hills Speedway, Mees is now operating from a position of strength at a venue he’s won at three times in the past (‘15, ‘17, and ‘18).
That, along with his status as the winningest Half-Miler in the history of the series, makes Mees the pre-race favorite coming into the weekend. However, Daniels did manage to upset Mees the last time the two squared off on a Half-Mile with his 0.095-second victory at the Drag Specialties Bridgeport Half-Mile a week-and-a-half-back.
Last year’s Black Hills Half-Mile saw its Mission SuperTwins Main rained out, but the lead-up to that point hinted at a clash featuring not just Mees and Daniels, but also Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke) and last weekend’s winner, JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT).
Due to the inclement weather, Bauman actually stands as the most recent winner of the race, having captured victory at Black Hills Speedway in 2019.
Several others have the potential to play the role of spoiler this weekend while sorting out their own championship disputes. Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750) currently holds a small lead over Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) and Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Indian FTR750) as they contend for fifth in the standings along with bragging rights as the top independent Indian.
Meanwhile, the likes of Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Fastrack Racing/2 Wheelz KTM 790 Duke), Kolby Carlile (No. 36 G&G Racing/Yamaha Racing Yamaha MT-07), Ben Lowe (No. 25 Rackley Racing/Mission Foods Indian FTR750), and Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield 650) will continue to look for ways to make waves.
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
While the commanding title lead of defending Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER champ Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) and incredible second half of Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) have naturally made them the focus of attention, Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) has emerged a genuine force to be reckoned with.
Brunner has climbed to second in the championship order with three top-two finishes over his last four attempts, including his first victory of the season this past weekend in Peoria. The Estenson Racing pilot now carries that momentum into Black Hills Speedway where he won at a year ago.
Considering Kopp’s Half-Mile chops and Drane’s current form, they are obvious contenders for victory as well. Others to keep tabs on are the Turner Honda Racing trio of Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), and Morgen Mischler (No. 13 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R). Saathoff is less than ten points removed from second in the championship having already netted seven podiums on the season, while Mischler and Lowe went 2-3 here a year ago.
Fourth place in last year’s race went to Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F), who showed renewed speed with a run to fifth in Peoria.
Meanwhile, there are a pair of former Black Hills Half-Mile winners who are itching to make similar resurgences in Shayna Texter-Bauman (No. 52 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 450 SX-F) and Chad Cose (No. 49 1st Impressions Race Team/Husqvarna Racing FC450), the duo having won here in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
There will be plenty to keep fans entertained at the track on Sunday as well, including numerous vendors and dedicated motorcycle parking.