2021 Progressive AFT Season Primed for Spectacular Launch at Volusia HM Doubleheader
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 9, 2021) – Months of intense preparation and eager anticipation will at last be rewarded as the 2021 Progressive American Flat Track season is just days away from its spectacular Daytona Bike Week launch. The 17-round battle royale to determine this year’s Grand National Champion will officially begin doubleheader style, with this weekend’s Volusia Half-Mile I & Volusia Half-Mile II presented by Daytona Dodge on Friday, March 12, and Saturday, March 13 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida.
Riding high on two consecutive GNC triumphs, Briar Bauman (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) returns as the championship favorite in the premier Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle class. That said, he’s been forced to dig deep to overcome the legendary Jared Mees (No. 9 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750), who scored career wins #49 and #50 at Volusia Speedway to open the 2020 season.
Sammy Halbert (No. 69 Coolbeth-Nila Racing Indian FTR750) and Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) ranked third and fourth, respectively, a year ago, each grabbing the checkered flag in the process. The two are back for a second season with their respective squads and should only continue to grow in that capacity.
And Robinson is not alone at a Mission Roof Systems outfit that’s quickly developing into a paddock power with the addition of Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) alongside Brandon Price (No. 92 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750).
Former road racing champions turned flat track aces JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) and James Rispoli (No. 43 Latus Motors Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R Rev X) stand as the series’ greatest hopes to prevent an Indian season sweep of the top spot on the podium. Beach took his Yamaha MT-07 DT to a pair of wins in 2019, while Rispoli proved to be a dominant force on his Latus Motors Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R en route to the 2020 AFT Production Twins title.
Dallas Daniels (No. 1 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) has managed to outperform even the most unrealistic expectations thus far in his short Progressive AFT career. Now entering just his second full season as a professional, Daniels is brandishing the #1 plate in his AFT Singles title defense with an ocean deep pack of rivals itching for a chance to prove themselves against the sport’s newest superstar.
Daniels famously failed to qualify for the Main Event in last season’s opener at Volusia, only to strike back the following evening with a timely victory that set the stage for the remainder of the season.
The rider who walked away with opening night honors while Daniels watched from the fences was Australian Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-FFE), who blossomed into a championship runner-up in 2020. Whale should prove even more formidable this season as he joins the category’s all-time winningest rider, the newly hyphenated Shayna Texter-Bauman (No. 52 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-FFE), on the official KTM squad.
Premier-class race winner Henry Wiles (No. 17 American Honda/United Rentals CRF450R) will lead a stout three-rider effort for Turner Racing/American Honda that also features Cole Zabala (No. 51 American Honda/United Rentals CRF450R) and Trevor Brunner (No. 21 American Honda/United Rentals CRF450R).
Meanwhile, a stacked class of rookies is primed to spring into action, headlined by the highly touted Kody Kopp (No. 143 Smartop/Jones Honda/Latus Motors CRF450R).
AFT Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines
With reigning AFT Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines champion Rispoli stepping up to Mission SuperTwins duty, the fight for the #1 plate begins anew.
Cory Texter (No. 65 G&G Racing/Roof Systems Yamaha MT-07) wore the number all through the 2020 season and is well positioned to make another run at it this season. In many ways, Texter was even more impressive during last year’s championship runner-up campaign than he was when he actually took the title in 2019.
Texter split last year’s Volusia HM wins with fellow championship hopeful Ryan Varnes (No. 68 RVR/RoyBuilt Don’s Kawasaki Ninja 650). Two additional 2020 race winners — Ben Lowe (No. 25 Mission Roof Systems Harley-Davidson XG750R) and Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield Twins FT) — are back as well. Lowe is now armed with an XG750R while Lewis’ Royal Enfield FT should have been well served with a full offseason of development following its impressive 2020 debut.
Another threat lurking within the field is the now full-time AFT Production Twins-focused Chad Cose (No. 49 Voodoo Ranger/Roof Systems Harley-Davidson XG750R) whose 2020 campaign yielded a staggering seven podium finishes.
While Rispoli may have moved up to Mission SuperTwins, the premier class returned the favor in the form of the talented duo of Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Cycles/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson XG750R) and Dan Bromley (No. 62 Memphis Shades/Vinson Construction Yamaha MT-07). Gauthier and Bromley each have the potential to upend the established AFT Production Twins power structure; they are both recent AFT Singles champions, skilled all-around racers, and come in hardened following a year of bar-to-bar battle with the greatest riders in the sport.
Beyond the on-track action and the multitudes of Bike Week activities, Progressive American Flat Track will welcome in the new season with live music at the venue and an appearance by the weekend’s Grand Marshal, Isle of Man TT legend and DAYTONA 200 rookie Michael Dunlop.
Spectator safety remains the top priority and Progressive AFT has worked closely with local health and government officials toward those ends. For more on the specific precautions being undertaken, please consult the Progressive AFT Events Health & Safety FAQ.
Tickets are available for purchase now at https://store.americanflattrack.com/ebooking/ticket/view/id/3321/#raceSchedule. General Admission Grandstand and Turn 1 General Admission Grandstand (walk-in only) tickets are $33 in advance (children 12 and under are free in both GA areas with the purchase of an adult admission). The few remaining Premium General Admission Grandstand tickets, centrally located in the highest rows along the front stretch, are $60 in advance ($20 for children 12 and under). A $10 multi-day discount is available for each pair of Friday/Saturday GA tickets purchased in advance.
Thursday-Sunday weekend camping passes are also available in four tiers (Premium Reserved Covered, Premium Reserved, Reserved Hook-Up, and General Admission).
Gates will open for fans on both Friday and Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. PT with Opening Ceremonies set to begin at 7:00 p.m. ET/4:00 p.m. PT.
Live coverage of the entire weekend’s racing activities will be available on any device for only $1.99 a month via TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold with on-track activity beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT each day.
The Volusia Half-Mile I & II presented by Daytona Dodge will air back-to-back on NBCSN on Saturday, March 20, starting at 12:00 p.m. ET/9:00 a.m. PT. The broadcasts will include exclusive features, cutting-edge aerial drone and onboard footage, and the expert commentary of Progressive AFT legend Chris Carr.
For more information on Progressive AFT visit https://www.americanflattrack.com.
To score the latest gear for the Progressive American Flat Track fan, visit our official merchandise store at https://store.americanflattrack.com.
How to Watch:
NBCSN and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold are the official homes for coverage of Progressive American Flat Track. For the 2021 season, NBCSN’s coverage of Progressive AFT remains in highly-coveted programming, the complete schedule for which can be viewed at http://www.americanflattrack.com/events-nbcsn/. TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold is a cornerstone of Progressive AFT’s digital strategy, providing live streaming coverage of every event and maintaining an active archive of all Progressive AFT content.