DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 25, 2023) – Reigning Grand National Champion Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) came out victorious following an epic showdown featuring two of Progressive American Flat Track’s biggest stars in an epic Yamaha Senoia Short Track on Saturday evening at Senoia Raceway in Senoia, Georgia.
The Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle king entered the weekend with the knowledge that his place atop the pecking order was under threat from the fast-rising Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT), who opened his ‘23 title campaign in dominating fashion at Daytona International Speedway two weeks back.
Following a quiet opener by his standards, Mees was at the top of his game in Senoia, locking down the top of the charts pretty much all day long. He then looked to exploit his prime starting position, planning to dart away early and eliminate any potential challenge before it could materialize.
Daniels saw what the factory Indian ace was up to, however. He stuck a hard pass in on teammate JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) to slot into second and then put his head down in hopes of reeling Mees back in.
Daniels ultimately arrived on Mees’ rear wheel and at last took the lead at half-distance, just as the two made their way into lapped traffic. The second half of the contest was relentless, with passes for the lead executed on nearly every lap, all the while slashing their way past slower riders.
Mees reclaimed the lead with twenty seconds remaining on the clock and then leaned on his decades of experience advantage to formulate a way to cling on for the victory, as he held the Estenson Yamaha pilot off at the stripe by 0.174 seconds.
“Man, that was a duel… a battle… a fist fight in a phone booth,” Mees said. “We rode super clean; we didn’t touch – we came really close – but I didn’t want to give that one up. I was fighting tooth-and-nail, and he was rolling so good. I felt if I could get in a rhythm early, I could maybe get a gap, but he hung tough. We want this championship bad. We want to keep the #1 plate. It’s going to be super tough. Dallas is super hungry, and you can see it in his riding.”
While the Mees-Daniels showdown was the headliner (and quite possibly a preview of more to come), the battle for third was nearly as exciting. Beach fell into the clutches of Brandon Robinson(No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750), losing the podium position late in the Main, only to snatch the spot back on the race’s final lap.
Meanwhile, Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750) earned his second top five of the year, outdueling Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Indian FTR750) following an extended tussle of their own.
Seventh went to Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 890 Duke), who spent the entire Main Event clawing his way forward after an early incident dropped him well down the order.
He was followed home by his younger brother, Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Fastrack Racing/2 Wheelz KTM 890 Duke), in eighth, while Jesse Janisch (No. 33 KTM/Haversack/Z-Max 890 Duke) and Ben Lowe (No. 25 Rackley Racing/Mission Foods Indian FTR750) rounded out the top ten.
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
Two-time Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER championship runner-up Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) earned his first victory of the ‘23 season in convincing fashion at Senoia Raceway.
While the field was desperate to slow Whale’s teammate, defending class champ Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) after his season-opening double victory at the DAYTONA Short Track, the Australian issued a clear reminder that the Red Bull KTM team boasts not one, but two genuine title contenders under its tent with a wire-to-wire run to the checkered flag.
As Whale walked away at the front, a huge scrap played out behind for second. A hugely impressive James Ott (No. 19 1st Impressions Race Team/Husqvarna Racing FC450) jumped into the position from pole where he found himself under fire almost immediately from the likes of Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), Morgen Mischler (No. 13 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), Kopp, and Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F), among others.
Drane pulled off a remarkable save of a near highside just to stay upright, but the resultant drama dropped him from podium contention to outside the top ten. Gauthier then started his charge, slicing his way up from seventh to third with relative ease. But try as he might, he was unable to work out a way past Ott and the two ultimately crossed the stripe the final time in second and third, respectively.
Kopp did threaten to overhaul both late. However, he instead saw his bid for a top-three result foiled by a resurgent Brunner, who stole back fourth and then kept the championship leader corralled behind him in fifth to the flag by a 0.177-second margin.
Mischler took sixth just behind, followed by his Turner Honda teammates, Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) and Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R). 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) completed the top ten.
Race winner Whale said, “I needed a good race today. Obviously, as a racer you want to win every time. It feels good to do this coming here from Daytona, where my head was hanging low. You put in all the work before the start of the year, and to finish with a fourth and a ‘937th’ was tough. So to come out today and win? I can’t thank my team enough.”
Progressive AFT will power directly to the first TT of the ‘23 season with next weekend’s ZO CBD Arizona Super TT presented by RideNow Powersports
at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park
in Chandler, Arizona, on Saturday, April 1. Visit https://www.tixr.com/promoters/americanflattrack
to secure your tickets today.
For those that can’t catch the live action from the circuit, FansChoice.tv
is the live streaming home of Progressive AFT. Sign up now and catch every second of on-track action starting with Practice & Qualifying and ending with the Victory Podium at the end of the night at https://www.fanschoice.tv
FOX Sports coverage of the Yamaha Senoia Short Track, featuring in-depth features and thrilling onboard cameras, will premiere on FS1 on April 1 at 7:00 a.m. ET (4:00 a.m. PT).