Daniels and Co. Attempt to Slow Mees’ Roll at Lima Half-Mile

 Following three straight Miles, Progressive American Flat Track, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, now shifts its gears to race four consecutive Half-Miles starting with this weekend’s Mission Lima Half-Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle and Drag Specialties at the Allen County Fairgrounds in Lima, Ohio, on Saturday, June 24.


Reigning Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) comes in with all the momentum after sweeping the aforementioned Miles. He’s also fully at home at the venue with its trademark pea-gravel cushion, considering he’s not just a five-time winner of the race but also its promoter with wife Nichole.


Even with all that considered, Mees isn’t necessarily the overwhelming favorite to win this weekend; several others have a legitimate claim as well.


Even as a rookie, Mission SuperTwins points leader Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) looked like the rider to beat pretty much all day here a year ago. In the Main Event, he fought his way up from a bad start to battle for the lead before coming home in second place.


And the rider who ultimately beat Daniels was not Mees, but rather Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750). Robinson, who comes in fresh off an ultra-close runner-up result at the DuQuoin Mile, is a two-time winner of the Lima Half-Mile and driven to score his first victory of ‘23.


That’s also the case for Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke), another two-time winner of the prestigious event. Bauman was as strong as he’s been all season this past weekend and is now primed to capitalize as the season shifts to some tracks well aligned with his strengths.


JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT), Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750), and Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Indian FTR750) have all had their moments this season and look to add some more this weekend as the trio headline an extended list of additional podium contenders.


Another rider to keep tabs on is the returning Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield 650), who won the Mission Production Twins race aboard the Royal Enfield here in 2021.


Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER


The hard-won points advantage of defending Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER champ Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) took something of a battering during the recent run of Miles. This didn’t come entirely unexpectedly, and despite the dip, he still managed to weather the storm and continues to stand atop the championship standings.


Now he’s poised to strike back. A year ago, the foundations of Kopp’s championship campaign were built on his Half-Mile prowess, reeling in five HM victories in eight attempts. Included in that list of wins was a blowout performance at the Lima Half-Mile, in which he shook free from the pack on the race’s opening lap and never looked back.


The riders who joined him on the podium that night will look to make it more of a contest this time around, as both come into the weekend considerably more experienced and in stellar form.


Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) is just nine points behind Kopp on the strength of five consecutive podiums, four of which runner-ups. And he’s the opposite of satisfied by that impressive stat considering he’s still seeking his first Progressive AFT victory after multiple near-misses.


Even with Kopp’s one-sided victory, the rider who turned the most heads at Lima a year ago was arguably Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), who finished in second while making his series’ debut. The Aussie is a class full-timer now and quickly making his presence felt, notching up a pair of race wins already in ‘23.


The rest of the usual suspects should factor up front again this weekend, including the likes of Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F), Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F), Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), and Morgen Mischler (No. 13 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R).


While a bit quiet at the last two rounds, 1st Impressions Husqvarna teammates Chad Cose (No. 49 1st Impressions Race Team/Husqvarna Racing FC450) and James Ott (No. 19 1st Impressions Race Team/Husqvarna Racing FC450) might just make more noise this weekend. Cose managed to win a Mission Production Twins race and podium in Parts Unlimited AFT Singles at Lima on a single evening back in ‘19, while Ott finished inside the top five here just last year.


And don’t rule out a huge night for Shayna Texter-Bauman (No. 52 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 450 SX-F), who was victorious at Lima in both 2018 and 2019.


There will be plenty to keep fans entertained at the track on Saturday as well, including numerous vendors, expansive food and beverage options, and extensive motorcycle parking.


Don’t miss your last chance to save $10 per ticket before the sale ends and prices return to normal on Wednesday, June 21. Act fast to get General Admission Bleacher tickets for just $30 (kids 12 and under free with a paid adult GA ticket). Upgraded options include Reserved Grandstand and Premier Reserved Grandstand tickets along with VIP ticket add-ons.


Pit Pass Upgrades are also available for purchase, which provide all-day access to the pits where fans can scope out the world’s fastest dirt track motorcycles and get up close and personal with the stars of the sport.


Visit https://www.tixr.com/groups/meespromotions/events/lima-half-mile-58771 to reserve your seats today.


Gates will open for fans at 2:00 p.m. ET (11:00 a.m. PT) with Opening Ceremonies scheduled to begin at 6:40 p.m. ET (3:40 p.m. PT).


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 Mission Lima Half-Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle and Drag Specialties, featuring in-depth features and thrilling onboard cameras, will premiere on FS1 on Sunday, July 2, at 2:00 p.m. ET (11:00 p.m. PT).


For more information on Progressive AFT visit https://www.americanflattrack.com.

Adam Sinclair