The Progressive AFT Orange County Half-Mile proved to be an exciting night for Indian Motorcycle’s Jared Mees. At the Orange County Fair Speedway, Mees gained his 36th Half-Mile win, surpassing Scott Parker for most Half-Mile wins in Grand National Championship history. And for the first time this season, Mees was able to snag the points lead away from Yamaha-mounted Dallas Daniels, who has been leading in points with all-podium finishes since the first 2023 race in Daytona back in March.
Mees had gained a multi-second lead before a late red flag resulted in a staggered restart. After the restart, it didn’t take long for Mees to pick up where he left off: with a solid hold in front.
Before the restart, Dallas Daniels and KTM-mounted Briar Bauman fought for second behind Mees. After the restart, Daniels had two new threats to deal with: Brandon Robinson and JD Beach. In the end, Bauman pulled ahead to secure second, and Daniels worked his way past Robinson to finish third.
Mees now leads the points with 257, and Daniels follows with 255. This is the first time in the 2023 season that Daniels doesn’t have the points lead, but he’s still not far behind and has five more races to claim back the lead. Briar Bauman pulls up third with 208 points after strong finishes in the last five races.
The series heads to Bridgeport Speedway in Swedesboro, New Jersey, on July 22 for the inaugural Bridgeport Half-Mile. Find more information in the press release below.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 8, 2023) – Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) claimed sole possession of the career Grand National Championship Half-Mile wins record with a showcase performance in Saturday night’s Orange County Half-Mile as Progressive AFT, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, returned to Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, New York, for the first time in 35 years.
The combination of Mees’ immense ability, experience, and support provided the reigning Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle champion with a decisive edge on a hyper-slick surface that tested the upper limits of the field’s collective skill.
Even a late red flag that wiped out the multi-second lead Mees had diligently assembled did little to dent the factory Indian star’s dominance on the evening. He simply powered off the staggered start and marched away while his primary rivals waged war for second behind him.
The last time the series visited the century-old venue, the legendary Scott Parker earned one of his record-setting 35 career Half-Mile wins. Mees’ victory tonight was his 36th HM win, which established the new all-time mark.
Mees’ monumental night also saw him wrest the points lead away from Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) for the first time this season.
Prior to the red flag, the young title hopeful was caught up in a heated scrap for second with the rolling Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke). After the restart, his season-long podium streak came under serious threat with the additions of Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) and JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) to the fray.
Bauman slashed up to second and controlled the spot to the flag. Afterward, the Rick War Racing ace proclaimed himself a contender from here on out now that the bike is properly dialed, a sentiment backed up by a win, two seconds, a third, and a fourth in his last five attempts.
Daniels, meanwhile, had to hustle his way back past Robinson over the race’s final two laps to narrowly finish third, upping his active podium streak to 12 in the process. Still, it wasn’t quite enough to retain his championship standing, as Mees now leads the chase 257-255.
After claiming his seventh victory of the season, Mees said, “We’ve just got to keep plucking away. Dallas has been riding phenomenally all year. It’s almost underrated how consistent he’s been this season. It’s making me dig down as deep as I can, and I’m really enjoying the battle. We’ve got a lot of racing to go, and I’ve got a couple tracks coming up that are more his forte than mine with the TTs. It’s an honor to keep the ball rolling, really.”
Robinson and Beach completed the top five, while Billy Ross (No. 109 Mission Foods/Roof Systems Kawasaki Ninja 650) took the best finish of his premier-class career in sixth.
Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Indian FTR750) finished seventh, followed by Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750), Henry Wiles (No. 17 BriggsAuto.com/Martin Trucking Indian FTR750), and Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Fastrack Racing/2 Wheelz KTM 790 Duke), in that order.
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) claimed the 13th victory of his Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER career in Saturday’s Orange County Half-Mile, and this one may have been the best yet.
The entire evening felt as if it was shaping up as a collision course between Kopp and Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F).
While that initially proved true, what wasn’t expected was that their clash would be for second with Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) blasting away a couple second out in front.
Saathoff’s long-awaited maiden Progressive AFT victory was delayed yet again, however. Once in the clear after shaking free of Drane, Kopp set about tracking the Turner Honda pilot down.
The KTM star quickly gobbled up the gap and then searched for a way into first. He found one quickly enough although perhaps not exactly as scripted. The defending champ caught a rut in the middle of the corner and was sent wide, forcing Saathoff to chop the throttle to prevent contact.
Once into first, Kopp flexed his sheer pace advantage and walked away with his sixth victory of the season.
“In clay car-track racing you have to go for those little sliders,” Kopp said of his overtake for the lead. “It worked out. My bike just wheelied and put me straight into the wall. I reached out on the straightaway – put a hand out apologizing. But that’s racing. He’s in the pro class. I guess he was mad about it, but all right.”
Drane held on for third ahead of Sathoff’s teammate, Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R). Fifth went to a strong-running Aiden RoosEvans (No. 26 A1R Racing/FRA Trust Honda CRF450R), who pushed his way into the early podium battle before settling in for his best career Parts Unlimited AFT Singles finish to date.
Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) ended up sixth with Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F), Tarren Santero (No. 75 Vinson Construction/Eric Hoyt Honda CRF450R), Hunter Bauer (No. 24 BigR Racing/Little Deb Racing Honda CRF450R), and Travis Petton IV (No. 82 ECG Racing/3 Bros KTM 450 SX-F) rounding out the top ten.
Kopp’s big title lead got that much bigger with his triumph. He now leads Saathoff by nearly two full races (241-194).
Kopp’s teammate, Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F), could only muster an 18-place finish after crashing on the opening lap and then soldiering on less than 100% following the restart. As a result, he dropped all the way from second to seventh in the tight race for position behind Kopp.
Next Up for Progressive AFT
Progressive American Flat Track will return to action on Saturday, July 22, for the inaugural Bridgeport Half-Mile at Bridgeport Speedway in Swedesboro, New Jersey. 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 Orange County Half-Mile, featuring in-depth features and thrilling onboard cameras, will premiere on FS1 on Sunday, July 16, at 2:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. PT).
For more information, visit the Progressive AFT website.