Aft
Port Royal Speedway is up next on the Progressive AFT schedule. (AFT Photo)

Progressive AFT Title Fighters Head Home to Port Royal

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.  – The 2022 Progressive American Flat Track season reaches its midpoint with this weekend’s Mission Port Royal Half-Mile presented by Appalachian Harley-Davidson at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway on Saturday, July 16.

Besides its centralized location on the schedule chronologically, its physical location in Port Royal, Pa., adds some extra significance as well. Pennsylvania is arguably America’s most fertile hotbed of motorcycle dirt track talent with an outsized number of the Progressive AFT’s competitors either native or resident Pennsylvanians.

The most high-profile of them all – reigning Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle Champion Jared Mees and two-time class king Briar Bauman, lead the series into this weekend’s showdown.

The more things change, the more they stay the same; while it took a bit of a circuitous route to get to this point, the two factory Indian aces find themselves right back where they’ve been for the bulk of the previous three seasons – 1-2 in the points with over half the season’s eight wins shared between them.

The aforementioned change, however, remains a factor in the form of a significant shift in the balance of power. Mees and Bauman are no longer locked in confrontation with only one another but also under fire from a formidable pair of teammates.

Estenson Racing Yamaha’s Dallas Daniels and J.D. Beach have been battling up front nearly every weekend. As a result, they’re currently a close 3-4 in the standings, with Daniels actually level with Bauman in points and ranked third only due to the tiebreaker.

And the Mission Roof Systems’ duo of Pennsylvanian Brandon Robinson and Jarod Vanderkooi have come on strong as of late, scoring a combined 1-2-3 over the last three rounds.

The gifted premier-class field offers even more potential race winners as well. Bronson Bauman and Davis Fisher each boast a runner-up finish in the first half of the 2022 campaign, while Brandon Price finished as a close runner-up at Port Royal Speedway a year ago.

Mission Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines

This year’s Mission Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines title fight has taken shape as a two-man show with a rotating cast of guest stars.

Defending class champ (and native Pennsylvanian) Cory Texter and title challenger Jesse Janisch have distanced themselves from the pack in terms of the points race via a combined five wins and 13 podiums.

However, the pack has shown the capacity to present a serious additional challenger for race wins on just about any given weekend with Nick Armstrong, Billy Ross, and James Rispoli having all stood on the top step of the podium this year.

Pennsylvanian Cameron Smith very nearly added his name to the list last time out while riding in place of another “Keystone State” pilot in Johnny Lewis. Smith will have another shot aboard the Royal Enfield Twins FT this weekend with the home crowd cheering him on as Lewis continues to heal from his injuries.

Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER

It’s a different story in Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER action as Kody Kopp has established himself the rider to beat – and a difficult one at that.

While the class championship outlook currently lacks the drama of the other two classes, Kopp’s excellence has been enthralling in its own right. The 17-year-old has been close to perfect in each of the last three rounds, controlling the proceedings pretty much all day long, capped off by a runaway race win.

Kopp has already earned five wins en route to building an imposing 42-point championship advantage (66 points over third place). Only twice in class’ history has a rider taken more race wins than that in a single season (Dallas Daniels with eight in 2019 and Michael Avila with six in 2011), and the young KTM ace still has over half the season ahead of him to further pad his stats.

Despite the one-sided nature of the title fight, there’s an incredible collection of talent who could step forward and go on a run of their own at any point. Kopp’s teammate, Max Whale, scored five wins himself a year ago and didn’t look too far removed from his familiar form in his return from injury in New York.

And all three of the American Honda-backed Turner Racing pilots – Morgen Mischler, Dalton Gauthier, and Chase Saathoff, have the requisite speed, talent, and determination to claim the top step of the podium this weekend.

The weekend also marks the midpoint of the season for Royal Enfield’s extremely popular BUILD. TRAIN. RACE. program which serves to highlight and celebrate women and motorcycle culture in North America. Jaycee Jones leads the standings with two wins and a runner-up in the season’s opening three races and heads into Port Royal Speedway as last year’s winner at the venue.

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