The 2023 season of Progressive AFT is heating up as the series heads to the famous SC2 Peoria TT in Peoria, Illinois, Sunday, July 30. The last two races have seen Jared Mees and Dallas Daniels swapping spots at the top of the points standings with just two points separating the two racers.
Dallas Daniels has had an inspiring season so far with podium finishes in every race, adding distance between himself at the top and title-defender Jared Mees early in the season. That is, until Mees won three consecutive Miles and two out of four consecutive Half-Miles. His Orange County Half-Mile victory bumped Mees ahead of Daniels for the first time this year, but Daniels reclaimed his points lead at the Bridgeport Half-Mile.
Their battle will continue at the Peoria TT. Both Mees and Daniels will be hoping to snag a victory and secure their place at the top of the standings, but they’ll also need to keep their heads on a swivel to watch out for JD Beach, who has won seven of the eight most recent TTs and who claimed victory at Peoria last year.
Peoria promises once again to be an exciting event, and we’ll be watching to see who comes out on top. Read the press release below for more information, and check back for race coverage after the event.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 25, 2023) – Progressive American Flat Track, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, now heads to one of the most spectacular races in all of motorsport, the World Famous SC2 Peoria TT presented by Country Saloon in Peoria, Illinois, on Sunday, July 30.
The Peoria Motorcycle Club’s natural amphitheater and unique layout balances decades of history with an urgent intensity that makes for one of the series’ most dramatic affairs on an annual basis. And this year’s 76th edition brings with it a raging Grand National Championship battle.
Just two points separate Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle championship leader Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) and reigning king Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750).
Beyond their title ambitions, both Daniels and Mees carry additional motivation into the Peoria TT. Daniels grew up a short distance from the venue where he dreamed of someday conquering the legendary race. And the Estenson Racing pilot did in fact earn his maiden Progressive AFT victory here in 2019 in the Parts Unlimited AFT Singles class as a 16-year-old rookie and later successfully earned a podium in his first attempt at the premier class a year ago.
For Mees, meanwhile, a victory at the Peoria TT represents one of the few major dirt track accomplishments that has thus far eluded him. He’s come oh-so-close on multiple occasions, registering no less than seven runner-up finishes at the track during his decorated career.
And yet, despite their respective track records in Peoria, neither title contender is likely viewed as the favorite to stand atop the box this weekend. That’s due to the combined presence of JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT), Henry Wiles (No. 17 BriggsAuto.com/Martin Trucking Indian FTR750), and Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke).
TT extraordinaire Beach is the defending two-time winner of the race as well as the victor of seven of the most recent eight TTs on the tour. His rare blend of world-class dirt track and roadracing skills make Beach a near-perfect rider for the discipline.
Wiles, meanwhile, is the most acclaimed rider in the race’s long history, racking up a 14-race Peoria TT win streak from 2004-2018. While he was beaten straight up in Peoria for the first time since 2003 a year ago, he came in rusty following an extended stint away from the sport. That won’t be the case this year, as he comes in having logged three consecutive top-ten finishes while working his way back into race shape.
Bauman is a similarly skilled Peoria titan. The Rick Ware Racing rider won the event in 2020 and gave Beach and Wiles all they could handle en route to their most recent victories.
Several other riders have the skills to play the spoiler and perhaps impact the championship by getting in the mix up front. Among them include the likes of Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Indian FTR750), Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Fastrack Racing/2 Wheelz KTM 790 Duke), Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield 650), and Ben Lowe (No. 25 Rackley Racing/Mission Foods Indian FTR750).
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
While Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) comes into the weekend with a near two-race Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER championship lead, it’s his teammate, Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F), who arrives with an active two-race Peoria TT win streak.
That alone makes the Australian the presumptive favorite to make it three straight, although the field is stacked with potential winners looking to knock him off his perch.
First among them is Kopp himself, despite the fact that he’s still seeking a first-career TT win. The defending class champ finished fourth here a year ago and took second earlier this year at the Arizona Super TT. There’s little doubt he’d love to win at the same fabled venue where his father, 2000 Grand National Champion Joe Kopp, reigned supreme in 1997.
Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F) – the rider who prevented Kopp from winning the Arizona Super TT – will come in hungry following a minor dip in form, while Morgen Mischler (No. 13 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), and Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) joined Whale and Kopp in the top five here a year ago.
The red-hot Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) makes for an interesting case. He’s been on a tear as of late, and his roadracing background suggests he could again be a factor this weekend even if he finished outside the top ten in the year’s earlier TT.
The Peoria TT will occasionally open the door for riders other than the usual suspects to contend for podiums. Two such riders who did so before and will look to do so again are Cole Zabala (No. 49 BigR Racing/Vinson Construction Honda CRF450R) and Ferran Cardús (No. 377 Roof Systems/Brothers Powersports Honda CRF450R), who finished second and third to Whale, respectively, in the 74th Peoria TT.
How to Watch Progressive AFT
General Admission tickets are just $35 (kids 12 and under free with a paid adult), while VIP tickets, which include entry into the Turn 1 VIP Lounge, are $150 (all ages).
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.
Click here to reserve your seats today.
Gates will open for fans at 10:00 a.m. ET (7:00 a.m. PT) with Opening Ceremonies scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. ET (11:00 a.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.
FOX Sports coverage of the World Famous SC2 Peoria TT presented by Country Saloon, featuring in-depth features and thrilling onboard cameras, will premiere on FS1 on Sunday, August 6, at 11:30 a.m. ET (8:30 a.m. PT).
For more information, visit the Progressive AFT website.