The Lima Half-Mile proved to be an emotional triumph for KTM-mounted Briar Bauman. Now halfway through the 2023 Progressive AFT season, Bauman secured his first AFT win of 2023 after a tight fight with current points leader Dallas Daniels, while 2022 champ Jared Mees trailed close behind but wasn’t able to challenge for the win.
Bauman pulled ahead of Daniels with less than a minute of the race remaining and held onto his lead to the end. After the race, Bauman had an emotional moment remembering his recently departed mother and his first Mission SuperTwins victory in Lima.
Brandon Robinson, who won last year’s Lima Half-Mile, finished in fourth ahead of JD Beach and eight seconds behind the fight for the win.
Daniels remains the championship leader with 219 points due to his perfect podium record this season, and Jared Mees trails with 207 points. The Lima victory allowed Bauman to move to third in the standings with 166 points, pushing out JD Beach at 161 points.
Next up is the West Virginia Half-Mile on Saturday, July 1. Read the press release below for more information.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 24, 2023) – Two-time Grand National Champion Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke) took an emotional and historic victory in Saturday night’s Mission Lima Half-Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle and Drag Specialties at the Allen County Fairgrounds in Lima, Ohio.
Following an often challenging half-season spent developing an all-new racebike for an all-new team, Bauman kicked off the second half of 2023 by claiming the first premier-class victory for a KTM twin in the history of Progressive American Flat Track, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing.
And that win came at the conclusion of a thrilling Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle Main Event. Bauman, who earned the crown in 2019 and 2020, spent all ten minutes plus two laps embroiled in a non-stop dogfight with the rider who currently has the inside track on this year’s title, Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT).
Bauman and Daniels alternated high and low lines as theft continually swapped the lead, running side-by-side when one or the other wasn’t making a futile attempt to shake loose at the front. And all the while, their engagement threatened to transform the race for the win into a three-rider affair with reigning king Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) lurking right around one second back and just waiting for his chance to strike.
Finally, with less than minute to go, Bauman seized the upper hand and then refused to allow Daniels a last-gasp bid to steal away his hard-earned win for Rick Ware Racing.
The emotion of the victory was further amplified as Bauman reflected on both the recent passing of his mother as well as his triumphant performance at the scene of his maiden Mission SuperTwins win.
He said, “I think these guys are probably going to start making fun of me because I think I cry every time I win. But aside from all that, my brother (Bronson) and I lost our mom six months ago last Sunday, and this is where I got my first Twins win. The love that everyone gives in this sport no matter how hard you’re going up against one another… We’re fighting for everything we can get. I just appreciate all these guys a lot more than maybe I used to.
“There are so many people who have supported us. To actually get this done… It’s an honor to be a part of this program. I’m just proud, and I know my mom is proud. We did it.”
Last year’s Progressive AFT Lima HM winner, Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750), outlasted JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) as the two finished fourth and fifth, respectively, just over eight seconds behind the fight for the win.
Sixth went to Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Fastrack Racing/2 Wheelz KTM 790 Duke), who quietly earned his best result yet aboard the Fastrack KTM. Just behind in seventh and eighth were Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750) and Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Indian FTR750).
Kolby Carlile (No. 36 G&G Racing/Yamaha Racing Yamaha MT-07) finished ninth, while Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield 650) completed the top ten in his return to action even after suffering an ugly heat race crash earlier in the evening.
Despite falling short of victory, Daniels maintained his season-long perfect podium record and picked up some points in the title fight in the process. He now leads Mees by 12 points (219-207), while Bauman has moved ahead of Beach to take control of third (166-161).
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
Reigning Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER champ Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) notched up a timely victory on a night that proved to be a huge boon for his title defense.
Kopp came to Lima as the odds-on favorite due to his performance here a year ago, along with his general Half-Mile mastery, but this one did not come easily. Kopp took the holeshot but soon found himself in second and losing ground to rising star Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F).
The KTM ace regrouped and successfully countered Drane’s bid to shake free, clawing his way back to the Australian at mid-distance. The two then wove the lead back-and-forth with around three minutes remaining on the clock before Kopp finally got a firm grip on the position.
He then stretched open his advantage as the two slithered through lapped traffic, ultimately claiming his fourth victory of the season with more than two seconds in hand.
“That was a tough one,” Kopp said. “I got a good start and led it for a couple laps, but Tom is so fast on this stuff, it’s really underrated. We had a heck of a fight, and it was really fun. A lot of hard work went into this one. Those last three Miles were really frustrating as a team in general, but we never gave up and we’re here to fight for a championship.”
Kopp and Drane were joined on the podium by the resurgent James Ott (No. 19 1st Impressions Race Team/Husqvarna Racing FC450), who fought off second factory KTM pilot Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) to register his second trophy-earning ride of the season.
Drane’s teammate, Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), rounded out the top five.
Kopp’s championship outlook was further enhanced by the misfortune of Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), who entered the weekend having closed to within ten points of the title leader. That advantage is significantly greater now, as Saathoff’s momentum was slammed to a halt by a mechanical DNF suffered while running in third position.
Kopp’s lead more than tripled as a result, expanding from just nine points to 29 (191-162). His closest challenger shifted as well, with Whale taking over second from Saathoff, who is now ranked third with 158 points after being credited with 19th place in the Main.
Progressive AFT will now travel to Mineral Wells, West Virginia, for the All Seasons Powersports West Virginia Half-Mile at West Virginia Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 1. Click here to reserve your seats 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.
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 a.m. PT).
For more information, visit the Progressive AFT website.