Brandon Robinson Overcomes Sammy Halbert to Claim Fourth Daytona Triumph. (AFT Photo)

Robinson Overcomes Halbert to Claim Fourth Daytona Triumph

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Brandon Robinson successfully defended his adopted home turf to reign in Friday’s Mission SuperTwins Main Event to conclude a hugely entertaining Royal Enfield Short Track at Daytona II at the Daytona Int’l Speedway Short Track.

Robinson had to overcome potential Progressive American Flat Track, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, history in order to do so, forced to chase down an in-form Sammy Halbert to get the win. Halbert actually led the opening six-and-a-half minutes of the Main Event after earlier winning his heat race and the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge a full 53 years, 10 months, and five days after Mert Lawwill took the iconic Harley-Davidson XR750 to its maiden win at the Cumberland Half-Mile.

Following an extended pursuit, the Mission Roof Systems pilot finally dove up the inside of Dodge Bros.-backed Halbert, who then was thrown out of his saddle after encountering a bump while off his usual line. Undeterred, Halbert nearly clawed his way back within striking distance before at last conceding the race to Robinson in its final minute.

The victory was the fourth of Robinson’s career at the Daytona Short Track, moving him equal with Friday adversary Halbert for most all-time at the event. Afterward, Robinson, who originally hails from Pennsylvania but now resides just fifteen minutes from the World Center of Racing, unsurprisingly professed his affection for the track.

He said, “This feels amazing. It feels like forever since I’ve won a race. Going winless last year really (made me angry) to be honest. I came to the Main with a chip on my shoulder. I love this place. I love Daytona. Something about this dirt – it’s the greatest dirt in the world as far as I’m concerned… This is a dream ending to the week.”

Dallas Daniels, himself the winner of the three prior premier-class showdowns at the venue, battled with Robinson and hunted Halbert over the Main’s opening half before falling into the clutches of the resurgent Briar Bauman.

The two then traded third multiple times – a melee complete with crisscrossing lines and squared-up counters – before Daniels laid claim on the spot for good. He finished a little more than a second ahead of Bauman with reigning Grand National champion Jared Mees not far behind in fifth.

Sixth went to Davis Fisher a short distance ahead of Jarod Vanderkooi in seventh.

Premier-class rookies Trevor Brunner and Max Whale finished eighth and tenth, respectively, with Thursday runner-up Brandon Price sandwiched in between.

Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER

Tom Drane rebounded from his Thursday disappointment to claim a dominating win in Friday’s Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER rematch.

The young Australian ripped out to the holeshot in the restart that followed an early red flag and immediately stretched out a second-plus advantage at the front. Meanwhile, triple Daytona ST winner and double defending class champion Kody Kopp moved up from third into second after working past impressive sophomore Logan Eisenhard with five of the race’s scheduled six minutes still on the clock.

With clear air in front of him and plenty of time to work with, Kopp’s attempts to close the gap saw him make minor inroads on Drane’s advantage for a spell. But despite the determined effort, the Yamaha ace’s speed and consistency ultimately won out to the tune of a 1.951-second margin of victory at the checkered flag.

The victory was Drane’s first in the Short Track discipline, after previously winning three Miles and a Half-Mile. He said, “This means so much to finally get a Short Track win. I’d struggled a lot with these, but I just kept working and chipping away. I put all that effort in to try to become good (at them) so I can fight for the title this year.”

Eisenhard kept his head down in search of a maiden Progressive AFT podium and very nearly pulled it off. However, he was swallowed up and then pushed aside in rapid succession by a pair of the category’s established stars, Dalton Gauthier and Chase Saathoff with just 30 seconds still on the clock.

Gauthier then fended off Saathoff to secure his second podium of the young ’24 season. Despite losing out on his podium bid, Eisenhard did hold on to finish inside the top five even with Justin Jones, Aiden RoosEvans and James Ott running just behind in close formation.

Heralded rookie Evan Renshaw finished ninth, one spot in front of his charging Turner Honda teammate, Trent Lowe, whose early-race crash prompted the aforementioned red flag.

In the Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race Main, Kenzie Luker edged Thursday winner Taia Little by 0.275 seconds for the Friday victory.