Bauman Leads Three-Brand Podium in ‘22 Progressive AFT Opener at Volusia HM II
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The 2022 Progressive American Flat Track season promised a new era of increased brand parity and – at least on its opening night with the Mission Volusia Half-Mile II presented by Daytona Dodge at Volusia Speedway Park – it certainly delivered.
While the virtuoso performance for victory on the part of 2019 and 2020 Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle champion Briar Bauman (No. 3 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) was nothing new, the finishing order behind him provided some fresh storylines.
As Bauman went relatively unchallenged cruising to his 20th career premier-class victory, an intense battle for runner-up honors was waged by Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Latus Motors Racing Harley-Davidson XG750R) and JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT).
The younger Bauman made an early-race charge to climb into second position but was reeled back in by Beach as the laps ticked away. Catching Bauman proved far easier than overhauling him, however; Beach was foiled in every attempt and ultimately relegated to third to complete the Indian-Harley-Yamaha podium.
“We worked pretty hard this offseason,” Briar Bauman said. “Honestly, last year kind of gave me a perspective that I need to appreciate this a little bit more because it can be taken away really quickly. I’m proud of Indian Motorcycle for chipping away this offseason and finding a happy medium. Thanks to Indian Motorcycle for giving me a great motorcycle.”
The brand parity that was featured on the podium was reflected deeper down the order as well.
Much-heralded Mission SuperTwins rookie Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) opened his premier-class career with an outstanding fourth after winning his Semi earlier in the evening. He was followed home by reigning champion Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance FTR750) and ‘21’s third-ranked rider, Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Foods/Roof Systems Indian FTR750).
All three of them had to work hard to fend off the support class stars who advanced to the Main via the newly introduced Mission Production Twins Challenge. Jesse Janisch (No. 33 Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson XG750R) even showed a wheel for third at one point before finally taking a still eye-opening seventh with fellow ‘Challenger’ Dan Bromley (No. 62 Vinson Construction/Viper Air Yamaha MT-07) right on his heels in eighth.
Behind them were a pair of regular Mission SuperTwins frontrunners, Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 Mission Foods/Roof Systems Indian FTR750) and Brandon Price (No. 92 Briggsauto.com/Martin Trucking Indian FTR750) to complete the new-look top ten.
Mission Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines
Even with the deepest field in its short history, the Mission Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines class proved it’s still more than capable of serving up a surprise along with its trademark drama.
Nick Armstrong (No. 60 Competitive Racing Frames/Lessley Brothers Yamaha MT-07) – the class’ 17th ranked rider a year ago – appeared to be settling into a mid-pack ride… at least until he found a low line he could make work seriously in his favor.
Meanwhile, established Mission Production Twins powers Dan Bromley (No. 62 Vinson Construction/Viper Air Yamaha MT-07) and Jesse Janisch (No. 33 Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson XG750R) were embroiled in a breakaway battle for first. However, their gap to the pack was short-lived, being completely eaten up and spit out the other side by the charging Armstrong who blasted his way up from sixth and into first in a shockingly brief span.
Armstrong continued to leave the field in his wake for several laps. However, the race for the season’s first checkered flag wouldn’t be decided quite that easily. Bromley, who had been displaced by Janisch as well, learned his lesson and clawed his way back into contention after swapping his high line for Armstrong’s lower approach.
Bromley closed in on Armstrong’s rear wheel as the white flag flew. He then attempted to execute an under/over maneuver, but his bid for victory came up 0.102 seconds short at the stripe.
The upset triumph was the first of Armstrong’s Mission Production Twins career, and his first in any category since claiming a pair of GNC2 wins back in 2015.
“That race seemed to take forever,” Armstrong said. “To be honest, I never looked back. I didn’t even know Dan was there. I figured someone had to be there, but I just didn’t look back. This win means everything to me. I put everything I have into this, and it means a lot.”
Janisch carried his strong late ‘21 form over into the opener to round out the podium. It was the sixth time in seven races he’s finished in the top three since getting the call to compete by Vance & Hines just ahead of last year’s Peoria TT.
Despite still recovering from the broken leg he suffered in last year’s finale, Kolby Carlile (No. 36 KC36 Las Vegas Harley-Davidson XG750R) came home fourth with Johnny Lewis (No. 10 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield 650) making it three different makes in the top five aboard the factory Royal Enfield machine.
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
It’s often said a rider takes the biggest leap of their career in the offseason between their rookie and sophomore campaigns. If the prospect of that improvement was scary for Kody Kopp’s (No. 12 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-FFE) rivals following his standout 2021 Rookie of the Year performance, the reality turned out to be that much more frightening.
Kopp was in dominant form all evening long. The 17-year-old topped the final Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER qualifying session and then proceeded to win both his Semi and the inaugural four-lap Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda Singles Challenge.
Even with that advance warning, a deep field of challengers had no answer come the Main Event. Kopp took control of the race following an opening-turn melee and went about assembling a three-plus second lead at the front, with only teammate and back-to-back class championship runner-up Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-FFE) managing to even keep him in sight.
The field was then gifted another shot at Kopp when a red flag flew as a result of a clash between hugely impressive rookies Chase Saathoff (No. 106 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R) and Tyler Scott (No. 170 Briggsauto.com/Martin Trucking KTM 450 SX-F) that left Saathoff on the deck.
Ultimately, that reset did nothing but provide Kopp another opportunity to demonstrate his superiority on the night, as he again escaped en route to a 2.563-second margin of victory.
“I couldn’t ask for a better way to start the season,” Kopp said. “I’m just glad my family is here to share it with me. It’s amazing. I worked all my amateur career and all last year for this, and we finally got it.”
Whale came home second with 2019 class champ Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R) another second-and-a-half back in third.
Trent Lowe (No. 48 Mission Foods/Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda CRF450R) and Morgen Mischler (No. 13 American Honda/Progressive Insurance CRF450R) rounded out the top five.
Aiden RoosEvans (No. 26 Southern Illinois Motorsports Honda CRF450R) took sixth, while 16-year-old Saathoff raced all the way back up to seventh after lining up at the back of the pack for the restart.
The Mission Volusia Half-Mile I & II will premiere in back-to-back one-hour telecasts on FS1 on Sunday, March 20, starting at 11:00 a.m. ET/8:00 a.m. PT., including exclusive features, cutting-edge aerial drone and onboard footage, and expert commentary.
Progressive AFT’s Daytona Bike Week season-opening doubleheader concludes with tomorrow’s rescheduled Mission Volusia Half-Mile I presented by Daytona Dodge. You can purchase your tickets online now at https://store.americanflattrack.com/ebooking/ticket/view/id/3666/.
For those viewing from home, you can catch the livestream free via Facebook up until Opening Ceremonies. Fans can then purchase access to watch Opening Ceremonies, Semis, Main Events, and podium celebrations via Facebook Paid Online Events for $3.99 if purchased 24 hours or more in advance, or $4.99 if purchased on the day of the event.
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:
FOX Sports and Facebook are the official homes for coverage of Progressive American Flat Track. For the 2022 season, all 18 races will premiere in one-hour telecasts on FS1 during highly desirable weekend time slots. The complete schedule can be viewed at https://www.americanflattrack.com/events-foxsports. Viewers can watch livestream coverage of every round in the Facebook mobile app, Facebook desktop site or on the Facebook Watch mobile app. To watch the livestream on TV, fans can download the Facebook Watch TV app, or cast to a TV from the Facebook mobile app. Facebook Watch is available through Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, and Xbox One.