Mees Works His Magic at Memphis Shades DuQuoin Mile

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 6, 2024) – Reigning Grand National Champion Jared Mees (No. 1 Rogers Racing/SDI Racing/Indian Motorcycle FTR750) demonstrated his Mile mastery yet again with a victory in Saturday night’s Memphis Shades DuQuoin Mile, Round 10 of the 2024 Progressive American Flat Track season, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing. The Mission AFT SuperTwins Main Event at the “Magic Mile” was a race-long struggle of nerves and consistency. Mees attempted throughout to shake loose at the front while a three-rider pack of pursuers consisting of Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT), Brandon Price(No. 92 Memphis Shades/Sody Ent/OTBR Yamaha MT-07), and Briar Bauman (No. 3 Rick Ware Racing/KTM/Parts Plus KTM 790 Duke) did everything in their collective power to prevent that eventuality from playing out. Daniels’ early strategy was to keep Mees corralled the best he could, continually running underneath him on corner entrance in hopes of limiting the Indian star’s opportunity to run with clear air in front of him. Ultimately, the Estenson Racing ace was riding a tightrope in those efforts, and once Mees finally managed to maintain the lead for a full lap, he stretched open those crucial couple of tenths he needed to grasp a firm grip on the race. While he was unable to make an escape, the trio of contenders behind were also unable to draw back near enough to make any further assaults from that point forward. That nearly changed when Dalton Gauthier’s (No. 79 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield 650) bike broke with less than a minute remaining, resulting in a thick cloud of smoke that settled in across the track. The lack of visibility forced Mees to check up ever so slightly, allowing Daniels to close from more than a half-second back to just 0.234 seconds with only two laps remaining to decide the winner. Mees stayed calm and regrouped to eked back out to a 0.389-second margin of victory at the flag. While unable to pull off the upset, Daniels did execute his secondary mission of minimizing any damage done to his championship hopes by holding on for second. The victory was the 75th of Mees’ record-breaking career, moving him to within three of second-placed Chris Carr. It also elevated his career Mile wins mark to 28, just one behind Carr for second in the discipline as well. “It felt really good, just to feel good again, honestly,” Mees said. “The bike worked really good from the start, and we knew coming in here we were going to be a big player. The Rogers Racing/SDI Insulation/Progressive Insurance Indian Motorcycle was really strong tonight. Big thanks to everyone… So many great people are big contributors to our success. I had a lot of fun tonight, for sure.” Price earned his second podium of the season in third, just 0.055 seconds back of Daniels, while Bauman finished fourth less than a quarter of a second further in arrears. Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750) edged rookies Declan Bender (No. 70 GOMR/BriggsAuto.com/Martin Trucking Indian FTR750) and Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Mission Foods/Zanotti Racing Indian FTR750) for fifth in a fight that took place approximately six seconds behind the lead group. Meanwhile, Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) suffered a blow to his title efforts in eighth, with Cameron Smith (No. 34 RVR/KTM/Schaefer’s Motorsport KTM 790 Duke) and Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Ohio Indian FTR750) rounding out the top ten. The race served as a fitting conclusion the week-long celebration of motorcycle dirt track racing at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in DuQuoin, Illinois, that also saw the sport’s future stars crowned at the 2024 Mission Foods AMA Flat Track Grand Championship, sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association, before the greatest riders of today took centerstage to put on a show. 2018 Nicky Hayden AMA Flat Track Horizon Award winner Daniels now leads 2001 Nicky Hayden AMA Flat Track Horizon Award winner Mees 216 to 197 in the fight for the 2024 Grand National Championship. Robinson was relegated to third at 186. Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER Chase Saathoff (No. 88 JPG Motorsports Honda CRF450R) finally pulled it off. After finishing less than 0.1 seconds from victory in the most recent five Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER Mile Main Events, the JPG Motorsports pilot took Saturday’s win by an official 0.001 seconds following ten minutes and two laps of epic pack-war action. The high drama actually got underway even before the race itself did. Double defending champion Kody Kopp (No. 1 Rick Ware Racing/Parts Plus KTM 450 SX-F) lost his chain during the citing lap, threatening his participation in the race while promising to leave his hard-earned points lead in tatters. While Kopp’s Rick Ware Racing crew frantically worked to fit a new chain in the Turn 4 area, the field blasted off and worked its way around to complete the opening lap. Kopp was finally released into the fray one lap down, but his incredibly bad luck was swapped out for some incredibly good luck when a red flag was thrown as a result of debris on the racing line. That led to a complete restart, which put Kopp back in the fight and back on the lead lap, albeit forced to start from the back of the pack after failing to line up on the grid for the original start. At the restart, Saathoff resumed his battle for first with the likes of Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), James Ott (No. 19 1st Impressions Race Team Husqvarna FC450), and Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), among several others. However, Kopp made the most of his second opportunity, powering his way all the way up from 18th and into the lead in the span of seven laps. A 12-rider lead pack slowly whittled its way down to six by the time the clock hit zero. That was immediately reduced to five when race leader Lowe encountered a mechanical issue of his own moments after taking the two-to-go flags. On the decisive final circulation, Kopp blew up pre-race favorite Drane’s last-lap strategy, pushing him up the track ever so slightly where the Aussie lost his drive and drifted back to fourth. Kopp then zeroed in on Saathoff, and the KTM-mounted champ very nearly pulled off the last-to-first win, coming up mere millimeters short of edging ahead of his opponent’s Honda as they stormed over the line. While it was technically Saathoff’s second career victory, it was the first time he actually did so under live action with the checkered flag waving. Afterward, he said, “The main thing for me was to focus on my job, and I had to have a gameplan the whole day. But that entire Main Event, I didn’t know what the heck was going on. I didn’t know if I should try to lead or make a pass at the finish. Towards the end, I came around Turn 3 and I was leading, and I thought, ‘I’m just gonna do it!’ It was a crazy race. I can’t thank everyone enough… I’m so happy I got to take the victory lap with Bryan (Bigelow). That meant the world to me.” Third place went to Ott – his first podium of the season – just 0.044 seconds off the win and 0.044 seconds ahead of Drane. Fifth was taken by impressive rookie Evan Kelleher (No. 131 Schaefers Motorsports/South Shore Design KTM 450 SX-F), who slugged it out with the best riders in the class to finish just 0.204 seconds off the win. Kopp’s potential championship catastrophe was not only avoided, he actually maintained his pre-race advantage of 32 points, only now with Saathoff back in second (225-193) and Drane falling to third at 188. Next Up: Progressive American Flat Track will return to action on Sunday, July 28, with the World Famous SC2 Peoria TT presented by Backyards Saloon at the Peoria Motorcycle Club in Peoria, Illinois. Visit https://www.tixr.com/groups/peoriamotorcycleclub/events/peoria-tt-2024-80043 to secure your tickets today. For those who can’t catch the action from the circuit, FloRacing is the live streaming home of Progressive AFT. Sign up now and catch every second of the on-track action, from the first practice to the victory podium, at https://flosports.link/aftFOX Sports coverage of the Memphis Shades DuQuoin Mile, featuring in-depth features and thrilling onboard cameras, will premiere on FS1 on Sunday, July 14, at 12:00 p.m. ET (9:00 a.m. PT). 

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