There was a lot of hype surrounding the Progressive AFT doubleheader finale over the weekend at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida, and the event didn’t disappoint. In the Mission SuperTwins race on Friday, while all eyes were on the top three title contenders – Jared Mees, Dallas Daniels, and JD Beach – Indian racer Jarod Vanderkooi changed the landscape of the title chase by grabbing his first Progressive AFT premier-class victory. That wasn’t the only surprise of the evening, as Daniels crashed with less than three minutes remaining, forcing a staggered restart that ultimately landed him in 12th place and out of title contention.
After Friday’s race results, Mees was all but assured of capturing the crown for a second year, and his victory was cemented after taking third place Saturday behind Brandon Robinson and Briar Bauman. When all was said and done, Mees took the title with 298 points, while Bauman came from fourth heading into the weekend to take second in the series with 276 points, bumping Daniels into third with 267.
In another noteworthy title chase, the Mission Production Twins crown would go to Vance & Hines Racing team rider Jesse Janisch on his Harley-Davidson XG750R. Much like Mees, the title was all but on Janisch’s head going into the Saturday races, but Janisch would play it a little more conservatively than Mees, sliding comfortably into eighth place and guaranteeing himself the championship win. For more information, read the press release below, which includes final results on the Mission Production Twins and Parts Unlimited AFT Singles race categories.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 15, 2022) – Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) put the finishing touches on his successful title defense as a thrilling 2022 Progressive American Flat Track season came to its conclusion with this evening’s Mission Volusia Half-Mile Finale II presented by Daytona Dodge and Zo CBD at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida.
The defending Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle king was well positioned to retain the #1 plate after outdueling his title rivals on Friday and coming in second behind Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750), who worked past holeshot winner Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) approximately one minute into the Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle Main Event. ‘VDK’ spent the remainder of the race with the title contenders packed up close behind him, each one viewing him as a potential points buffer should they prove capable of slotting him between themselves and their rivals.
But after coming oh-so-close so often before, Vanderkooi refused to be their pawn and was instead the king, on Friday night at least.
“I’ll always remember getting my first win here in Barberville, Florida,” Vanderkooi said. “I’ve been racing here for a long, long time – 85s, 250s, 450s. I’ve got a lot of laps around this place, but that didn’t help my nerves any with two champions right behind me. That was awesome. Thank you to everyone who believed in me so much. My mechanic, my girlfriend, my parents, Ben Evans, everyone on the Mission Roof Systems team.”
The championship complexion was altered drastically even with the 25-point prize off the board. Daniels ultimately crashed out of fourth with less than three minutes to go. Forced to start from the back of the staggered restart, the rookie ace could manage just 12th and was mathematically eliminated from title contention as a result.
At the same time, Mees pulled off a sensational, around-the-outside overtake on Briar Bauman (No. 3 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) to steal away runner-up honors in the race’s final corner, which all but eliminated Bauman as well.
Just behind, JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) took full advantage of the restart to leap up the order and then hold off Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) for fourth by 0.060 seconds at the checkered flag.
Due to Mees’ last-lap heroics, the reigning champ led Beach and Bauman by 23 and 25 points, respectively, going into the Volusia Half-Mile II on Saturday. As a result, Mees only needed to avoid catastrophe in order to add yet another premier-class crown to his already incredible resume.
That near catastrophe came in the Semi when Mees made the save of the season – perhaps the save of his career – after hitting a bump and going airborne and sideways with his front wheel loft high in the air. Somehow he not only stayed up on two wheels but made a pass to take the checkered flag first.
With that drama out of the way, Mees basically just had to show up for the Main to win the title. Instead, he chose to fight, executing passes on the likes of Friday’s winner, Vanderkooi, and rookie hero Daniels to finish on the podium in third.
Already firmly established as one of the greatest riders in the history of the sport, Mees now boasts a remarkable assortment of accomplishments, including the ’12, ‘14, ‘15, ’17, ’18, ‘21, and ‘22 Grand National Championships, the 2009 and 2011 GNC1 Twins Championships, and the 2012 GNC1 Singles Championship.
“They are all sweet, they are all awesome, and they are all a lot of hard work,” Mees said. “This one is a little different because of what we were up against at the beginning of the year. The Indian Motorcycle backed by Progressive was strong all year long. My team did a phenomenal job. We had no mechanical failures all year, and we were able to come into this last race with a nice cushion. I was able to go out there and race hard. I’ll be honest, I really wanted to cap off the year with a win.”
That win instead went to Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750), who inherited the lead from JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) after Beach’s machine expired just prior to mid-distance with a potential Progressive Triple Crown victory within his reach.
Beach’s misfortune brought out the red flag, after which Robinson had to fight off Briar Bauman (No. 3 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) to claim his third win of ‘22.
Robinson said, “This is the perfect way to end the season, just knowing you are the baddest man in the last race of the year. And you get to sit on that all offseason. That’s a great feeling.”
Daniels finished close behind Mees in fourth, while fifth went to Vanderkooi. That was good enough for the VDK to add the $25,000 prize awarded for the Progressive Triple Crown to what was already destined to be an unforgettable weekend for the Ohioan.
Vanderkooi said, “I was nervous as can be – way more nervous than yesterday. This is just awesome.”
Sixth through tenth went to Davis Fisher (No. 67 Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750),Brandon Price (No. 92 G&G Racing/Yamaha Racing Yamaha MT-07), Jeffrey Carver Jr. (No. 23 Dodge Brothers Racing/Happy Trails Racing Harley-Davidson XR750), Dan Bromley (No. 62 Memphis Shades/Corbin Seats/Vinson Construction Yamaha MT-07) and James Rispoli (No. 43 Wally Brown Racing/Haversack KTM 890 Duke).
Beach, meanwhile, made the restart but could only advance to 11th after being forced to start from the back of the field. Despite falling from second to fourth in the final standings (266), ranking behind Mees (298), Bauman (276), and Daniels (267), the Estenson Yamaha pilot did end the year with the bragging rights for taking the most wins of any rider this season with four.
Mission Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines
Similar to the situation of Mees in the premiere class, Jesse Janisch (No. 33 Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson XG750R) got the hard work out of the way prior to the Mission Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines finale and only required a relatively modest result on Saturday to lock down his first-career Progressive AFT title.
Unlike Mees, Janisch was perfectly happy to put in that modest performance.
While running as high as fourth early, he didn’t offer any resistance when challenged in quick succession by James Rispoli (No. 43 Wally Brown Racing/Haversack KTM 890 Duke), Kolby Carlile (No. 36 KC36 Las Vegas Harley-Davidson XG750R), Mikey Rush (No. 15 Helipower Racing/Las Vegas Harley-Davidson XG750R), and finally Cameron Smith (No. 34 Thee Cathy Gray/Al Barker Yamaha MT-07), whom he gladly waved past before settling into a safe eighth.
And that’s where he’d finish to lock down that long elusive #1 plate.
“It’s amazing,” Janisch said. “Honestly, that race was kind of boring. I just had to maintain. It was pretty wild – I was up front early – I was around fifth and then it was just about moving over when everyone was coming through. I was just taking my happiness to the back.
“Shout out to the Vance & Hines team. Everything about this is from them. They gave me the opportunity last year to fill in, and they gave me a heck of an opportunity this year. We had a great season – seven wins and 14 podiums. This is good – I don’t know what else to say.”
Janisch was joined on the podium by Memphis Shades/Corbin Seats/Vinson Construction teammates Dan Bromley (No. 62 Memphis Shades/Corbin Seats/Vinson Construction Yamaha MT-07) and Cole Zabala (No. 51 Memphis Shades/Corbin Seats/Vinson Construction Yamaha MT-07).
For Bromley, the runner-up saw him successfully complete his perfect podium streak on the season, as he registered six seconds and two thirds in just eight starts. Meanwhile, it was Zabala’s second visit to the box after previously finishing third at Springfield.
And while he ultimately came up short in his quest for a third class crown, Cory Texter (No. 1 G&G Racing/Yamaha Racing Yamaha MT-07) went out like the champion he is. The two-time Mission Production Twins conqueror grabbed the holeshot and proceeded to dominate the final Main Event of his long and varied professional racing career.
Texter said, “First off, hats off to Jesse. I’m so proud of him. If I couldn’t win it, he’s a heck of a competitor, and it’s cool to see somebody else enjoy that moment. It was well deserved.
“Man, I’m going to miss it. It’s been a great ride. A long career – I’m burnt out and it’s been a lot of hard work – but to finish off with a win is great. I was really enjoying it, trying to soak it in while still trying to lead the race. Hats off to my team, G&G Racing. Without their help, none of my dreams would have come true. They gave me a shot four years ago when nobody else would, and we’ve had a really good run.”
Harley-Davidson also won the Mission Production Twins manufacturer’s championship, as Harley-mounted racers scored 365 points on the season, beating Yamaha riders by 10 points. Janisch led the class with seven wins and added six other podium finishes on the season. Billy Ross (Roof Systems Racing) and Michael Rush (Hellipower Racing/Las Vegas Harley-Davidson) each won a Mission Production Twins race on their Harley-Davidson XG750R motorcycles.
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R) earned runner-up honors in the 2022 Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER standings in just about the most satisfying way possible, twice overhauling newly crowned champion Kody Kopp (No. 12 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-FFE) en route to the season’s final victory.
Less than a minute into the Main, Kopp threw a committed pass in on Chase Saathoff (No. 106 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R) to take control of the race. Kopp then found himself in the sights of not only the rookie standout, but his experienced Turner Racing Honda teammates Morgen Mischler (No. 13 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R) and Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R).
But when an intra-team scrap for second broke out, Kopp appeared to have the perfect opportunity to make his escape at the front. That only proved effective until Gauthier fought his way up from fourth into second, as the ‘19 class champ clearly had the measure of Kopp once into the position.
Following a temporary stoppage due to a red flag, Gauthier made his move up the inside of Kopp. A second red flag reverted the order, and Gauthier promptly pulled off the same pass yet again.
Kopp remained on Gauthier’s rear wheel but was unable to retaliate, crossing the stripe in second, 0.196 seconds short of obtaining a single-season record-equaling eighth victory. Mischler came home third, another 0.089 seconds back.
The win saw Gauthier (255) leapfrog both Mischler (250) and Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) (249) – who finished seventh on the night – to steal away second in the final rankings.
“That was the best win of the year for me,” Gauthier said. “I came into this last race of the year and just wanted to enjoy it. We definitely did that. I just played my cards right tonight. I was fourth at the beginning, got past my teammates and then worked on Kody. He was riding a flawless race, but I was just getting stupid good drives out of four, and it just ended up working out in my favor. I’m super stoked on this one.”
Saathoff finished fourth to add to the team’s joy, while two-time class runner-up Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-FFE) rounded out the top five.
The Mission Volusia Half-Mile Finale I will premiere on FS1 on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT), while the Mission Volusia Half-Mile Finale II will air one week later, on Sunday, Oct. 30, at 10:30 a.m. ET (7:30 a.m. PT). Both broadcasts will include exclusive features, cutting-edge aerial drone and onboard footage, and expert commentary.
You can catch the livestream of every weekend’s racing activities on FansChoice.tv. FansChoice.tv provides free-to-view livestreaming of Practice and Qualifying. FansChoice.tv subscribers will then be able to watch the drama unfold from Opening Ceremonies through the Semis, Main Events, and podium celebrations. FansChoice.tv offers two subscription options, granting unlimited access to premium AFT content. Monthly subscriptions start at just $7.99, while a six-month subscription is available for $44.99.
For more information on Progressive AFT visit the American Flat Track Website. To score the latest gear for the Progressive American Flat Track fan, visit our official merchandise store.
How to Watch Progressive AFT:
FOX Sports and FansChoice.tv are the official homes for coverage of Progressive American Flat Track. For the 2022 season, all races will premiere in one-hour telecasts on FS1 during highly desirable weekend time slots. The complete schedule can be viewed here. FansChoice.tv provides livestreaming coverage of every Progressive AFT round.