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Event Rewind: Peoria TT Main Event Highlights

Showdown at Springfield to Decide 2023 Grand National Championship 

Superstars Jared Mees and Dallas Daniels will vie for the premier-class title as the 2023 Progressive American Flat Track season concludes at Springfield.  Read More

Historic Showdown 

No matter how this year’s championship shakes out, it’s already destined to become a go-to reference anytime there’s a particularly close battle heading into the final weekend. In that sense, this year’s one-point contest is destined to join such memorable duels as the 2016 Grand National Championship that saw Bryan Smith and Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) separated by just two points ahead of the finale and the 1981 title fight waged by Mike Kidd and Gary Scott that was tied going into the last race. 

Of course, this year’s championship is intriguing for reasons far deeper than simply being tight at the top. There’s the baked-in interest surrounding the efforts of a legitimate GOAT candidate in Mees who hopes to delay the arrival of a rising star with similarly stratospheric potential in Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT). 

2023 is also noteworthy due to the respective merits of Mees and Daniels, who have each, to date, assembled all-time great campaigns even in the face of the extreme competition presented by the other. 

Just how great have they been? 

Going into Springfield, Daniels boasts the second-best average finishing position of any rider going back to the 2010 season in which the Grand National Championship was reunified. Mees, as it happens, is working the third best average finishing position in modern GNC history: 

  1. Jared Mees 1.5 (2017) 

  1. Dallas Daniels 2.1 (2023) 

  1. Jared Mees 2.2 (2023) 

  1. Briar Bauman 2.3 (2020) 

  1. Jared Mees 2.3 (2020)* 

  1. Jared Mees 2.4 (2018) 

  1. Jared Mees 3.0 (2022) 

  1. Briar Bauman 3.0 (2021)* 

  1. Jared Mees 3.1 (2021) 

  1. Jake Johnson 3.4 (2011) 

  1. Jared Mees 3.6 (2014) 

  1. Briar Bauman 3.9 (2022)*  

  1. Dallas Daniels 3.9 (2022)*  

*Did not win the championship 

By another metric measuring unwavering excellence – consecutive podiums – Daniels now owns the single best streak of that same timespan. Mees, meanwhile, has an active streak that ranks as the second longest and is positioned to overtake Daniels with a strong finale. 

  1. Dallas Daniels: 13 (2023) 

  1. Jared Mees: 12 (2023 – active) 

  1. Jared Mees: 11 (2018) 

  1. Jared Mees: 10 (2017-2018) 

  1. Jared Mees: 9 (2021) 

  1. Briar Bauman: 9 (2020) 

  1. Jared Mees: 9 (2016-2017) 

  1. Jared Mees: 8 (2019-2020) 

  1. Briar Bauman: 7 (2021) 

  1. Briar Bauman: 7 (2019) 

  1. Briar Bauman: 7 (2019 – again) 


The Springfield Mile isn’t a superb venue to conclude this year’s historic title fight simply due to its status as the crown jewel event on the Progressive AFT calendar. It’s also a fantastic battleground for such a thrilling title fight because it lends itself to ultra tight races where inches often separate finishers, even at triple-digit speeds. 

With just one point representing difference between Mees and Daniels, every single position is potentially championship altering. Mere thousands of a second could prove the difference between glory and also-ran. 

Here’s a look at the last ten Springfield Miles, including the gap between the podium finishers and every subsequent rider chained to them within a second of the rider in front of them. 

2021 Springfield Mile II 

  1. Winner 

  1. 1.134 

  1. 0.025 

  1. 0.065 

  1. 0.174 (1.400 to winner) 

2021 Springfield Mile I 

  1. Winner 

  1. 0.116 

  1. 0.205 (0.321 to winner) 

2020 Springfield Mile II 

  1. Winner 

  1. 0.043 

  1. 1.947 (1.991 to winner) 

2020 Springfield Mile I 

  1. Winner 

  1. 1.980 

  1. 8.484 

  1. 0.040 (10.490 to winner) 

2019 Springfield Mile II 

  1. Winner 

  1. 0.083 

  1. 0.066 

  1. 0.020 

  1. 0.085 

  1. 0.020 

  1. 0.123 

  1. 0.044 

  1. 0.072 

  1. 0.137 (0.653 to winner) 


2019 Springfield Mile I 

  1. Winner 

  1. 0.239 

  1. 1.638 

  1. 0.122 

  1. 0.016 

  1. 0.092 

  1. 0.184 

  1. 0.162 

  1. 0.254 

  1. 0.359 

  1. 0.855 

  1. 0.036 (3.961 to winner) 

2018 Springfield Mile II 

  1. Winner 

  1. 0.013 

  1. 0.075 

  1. 0.469 (0.557 to winner) 

2018 Springfield Mile I 

  1. Winner 

  1. 0.819 

  1. 0.058 

  1. 0.205 (1.083 to winner) 

2017 Springfield Mile II 

  1. Winner 

  1. 0.021 

  1. 0.051 

  1. 0.107 (0.179 to winner) 

2017 Springfield Mile I 

  1. Winner 

  1. 0.005 

  1. 0.039 

  1. 0.084 

  1. 0.181 

  1. 0.422 

  1. 0.079 

  1. 0.465 (1.278 to winner) 

No Toss-Up 

As the previous section illustrated, the margin may only be one-point, but this isn’t a toss-up. Mees is your pre-race favorite. How could he not be? 

The factory Indian ace has won five of the last six Springfield Miles and seven in all. He’s also won all three Miles contested thus far in ‘23 and now ranks third all time with 26 Mile victories to his name. 

In all, Mees has notched up eight wins this season. As a result, he’s already locked down the tiebreaker, which provides him a very real strategic edge heading into the matchup. 

He’s also defending his home turf in a sense, competing at an event for which he is also the co-promoter alongside his wife, Nichole Mees. 

In Daniels’ Defense 

That’s not to say that Daniels lacks compelling arguments in his favor. 

To start with, in another sense – the more conventional geographic one – the young Yamaha pilot is the rider operating on his home turf with Springfield located just 80 miles west of his hometown of Mattoon, Illinois. 

And while Daniels professional history at Springfield is quite brief, it's also sterling. Besides winning three times at the Springfield Short Track, he doubled at the Springfield Mile in Mission Production Twins competition in 2021 – once in dominant fashion and the other in a nail-biter. 

Last year was meant to be his first go at the venue in Mission SuperTwins action, however, the weather didn’t allow it. However, an entire day’s schedule did play out save the Main Event, and there we saw Daniels win his Semi ahead of such standouts as two-time Grand National Champion Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke) and two-time Springfield Mile winner Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750). 

(Mees won the other.) 

Daniels’ short history also means that none of Mees’ seven Springfield Mile victories came with his current adversary in the mix. 

And while Mees has won four of the series’ six Miles since his young rival joined the class, the other two went to Daniels. 


Kopp’s Bid 

The Parts Unlimited AFT Singles championship race doesn’t rate quite the same level of examination due to the 35-point advantage of the category’s reigning king, Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F). 

What will be interesting is to see exactly how Kopp attacks the weekend. 

While his primary goal must be to secure his second consecutive crown, Kopp has repeatedly mentioned Dallas Daniels’ single-season wins record of eight. Kopp comes into the double finale with seven – the same tally he registered a year ago. 

The bar to claiming the title isn’t overly high. Only Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) and Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha) retain mathematical possibilities of catching Kopp. And even if second-ranked Brunner were to double, Kopp could post his worst result of the year on Saturday and then finish even lower on Sunday and still end up on top. 

The Red Bull KTM pilot might be able to cruise around on Saturday and still take care of business, freeing him up to push as hard as he wants on Sunday in an attempt to equal Daniels. 

But if he wants any chance at not just matching but bettering the mark, he’s going to have to go full-bore on Saturday. And even if that attempt went completely sideways, short of injury, he’d still have a mulligan waiting for him on Sunday. 

Ultimately, ‘short of injury’ could be the operative phrase which guides his approach. 

Last Chance Saloon 

This season, we’ve already seen Drane and Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) join the illustrious list of Progressive AFT Main Event winners. 

This weekend presents the final opportunity this season for the likes of Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) and James Ott (No. 19 1st Impressions Race Team/Husqvarna Racing FC450) to add their names to that group. 

In just two seasons, Saathoff has scored nine podiums, including five second-place finishes. Ott, meanwhile, has a career mark of four podiums, including two thirds and a second taken this season alone. 

It wouldn’t seem quite right for both to go into 2024 still seeking their maiden win – Saathoff in particular – but this is where we’re at. Time to go for broke. 

 Running Scenarios 

Considering that Jared Mees holds both a one-point advantage and the tiebreaker, in order for Dallas Daniels to successfully dethrone him, the Yamaha runner need to outscore the reigning champ by at least two points this weekend. 

And if Mees continues his ten-race streak of finishing no worse than second at the Springfield Mile this weekend, there is only one possible path to the title for Daniels: a decisive double victory. 

And it’s not a stretch to suggest that Daniels needs to approach this weekend with the expectation that will be necessary.  

But for this exercise, we’ll consider some more possibilities. While there are a vast range of possible outcomes, we’ll keep things in check a bit and calculate what Daniels would need to do to outscore Mees by two points, listing all possible permutations in which both riders finish inside the top five twice with at least one podium (Mees’ mirror image results and Daniels’ required responses are implied but unstated): 

Mees’ Results: 1st-1st = 50 points 

Daniels’ Paths to the Title: Nonexistent 


Mees’ Results: 1st-2nd = 46 points 

Daniels’ Paths to the Title: Nonexistent 


Mees’ Results: 1st-3rd = 43 points 

Daniels’ Paths to the Title: 2nd-1st (46) 


Mees’ Results: 2nd-2nd = 42 points 

Daniels’ Paths to the Title: 1st-1st (50) 


Mees’ Results: 1st-4th = 41 points 

Daniels’ Paths to the Title: 2nd-1st (46), 3rd-1st (43) 


Mees’ Results: 1st-5th = 40 points 

Daniels’ Paths to the Title: 2nd-1st (46), 3rd-1st (43), 2nd-2nd (42) 


Mees’ Results: 2nd-3rd = 39 points 

Daniels’ Paths to the Title: 1st-1st (50), 1st-2nd (46), 3rd-1st (43), 1st-4th (41), 4th-1st (41) 


Mees’ Results: 2nd-4th = 37 points 

Daniels’ Paths to the Title: 1st-1st (50), 1st-2nd (46), 1st-3rd (43), 3rd-1st (43), 4th-1st (41), 1st-5th (40), 5th-1st (40), 3rd-2nd (39) 


Mees’ Results: 2nd-5th = 36 points 

Daniels’ Paths to the Title: 1st-1st (50), 1st-2nd (46), 1st-3rd (43), 3rd-1st (43), 1st-4th (41), 4th-1st (41), 5th-1st (40), 3rd-2nd (39) 


Mees’ Results: 3rd-3rd = 36 points 

Daniels’ Paths to the Title: 1st-1st (50), 1st-2nd (46), 2nd-1st (46), 2nd-2nd (42), 1st-4th (41), 4th-1st (41), 1st-5th (40), 5th-1st (40) 


Mees’ Results: 3rd-4th = 34 points 

Daniels’ Paths to the Title: 1st-1st (50), 1st-2nd (46), 2nd-1st (46), 1st-3rd (43), 2nd-2nd (42), 4th-1st (41), 1st-5th (40), 5th-1st (40), 4th-2nd (37), 2nd-5th (36), 5th-2nd (36) 


Mees’ Results: 3rd-5th = 33 points 

Daniels’ Paths to the Title: 1st-1st (50), 1st-2nd (46), 2nd-1st (46), 1st-3rd (43), 2nd-2nd (42), 1st-4th (41), 4th-1st (41), 5th-1st (40), 2nd-4th (37), 4th-2nd (37), 5th-2nd (36) 

Running Scenarios in Reverse 

Considering Kody Kopp’s position, it’s actually easier to figure out what he’d need to do to put himself in danger of losing it. 

The easiest answer is to that is by staying home. But even if he did, he’d still repeat as champion if Trevor Brunner fared any worse than the points equivalent of a pair of thirds or if Tom Drane failed to pair a victory with a runner-up at minimum. 

Assuming second-ranked Brunner sweeps both wins this weekend, Kopp would need to perform no better than the following to not retain the #1 plate:  

  • 6th-zero points 
  • 7th-19th  
  • 8th-18th 
  • 9th-17th 
  • 10th-16th 
  • 11th-15th 
  • 12th-14th 
  • 13th-13th 

In the case that Brunner goes 1st-2nd, Kopp would need to perform no better than the following to not retain the #1 plate: 

  • 10th-zero points 
  • 11th-19th 
  • 12th-18th 
  • 13th-17th 
  • 14th-16th 
  • 15th-15th 

And if Drane were to pull the double, Kopp would need to perform no better than the following to not retain the #1 plate: 

  • 15th-zero points 
  • 16th-19th 
  • 17th-18th 

(However, even in this extremely unlikely scenario, Drane would still not be guaranteed the title as he could still be outscored by a Brunner 2nd-2nd.)