How to Watch & What to Watch: SC2 Peoria TT presented by County Saloon is the live streaming home of Progressive American Flat TrackComplete coverage of this Saturday’s World Famous SC2 Peoria TT presented by Country Saloon at the Peoria Motorcycle Club will kick off with the day’s first practice session at 12:00 p.m. ET (9:00 a.m. PT). 

FOX Sports coverage of the World Famous SC2 Peoria TT presented by Country Saloon, featuring in-depth features and thrilling onboard cameras, will premiere on FS1 on Sunday, August 6, at 11:30 a.m. ET (8:30 a.m. PT). 

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Event Rewind: Bridgeport Half-Mile Event Highlights

Ultra-Tight Title Fight Rages into 76th World Famous Peoria TT

Who will conquer the 76th World Famous Peoria TT?  Read More

Swinging for a Grand Slam 

While it would require a fair deal of giant-slaying to make happen, Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT) can win this year’s Peoria TT. 

The home-track favorite justified all the hype as a 16-year-old rookie with a stunning performance to secure his maiden Parts Unlimited AFT Singles win here in 2019. And then Daniels topped both qualifying sessions and ultimately finished on the podium in his first go at the Peoria TT in the premier Mission SuperTwins class a year ago. 

If he does manage to win, he’ll become just the 18th rider in the 70-year history of the Grand National Championship to complete the Grand Slam, earning a win in all four Progressive AFT disciplines. 

That’s a feat some truly legendary riders never managed to accomplish. In fact, five of the top eleven riders on the career wins list came up one category short: 

Fifth-ranked Ricky Graham never won a Short Track, sixth-ranked Kenny Coolbeth, ninth-ranked Bryan Smith, and tenth-ranked Will Davis all missed the honor due to the TT requirement, and Henry Wiles (No. 17 Trucking Indian FTR750) is still seeking his first Mile victory. 

This weekend’s favorite, JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT), is famously hoping to add both a Half-Mile and Mile victory to his résumé in order to become just the fifth rider ever to complete the old-school Grand Slam, which also includes a premier-class national roadracing victory, joining Dick MannKenny RobertsBubba Shobert, and Doug Chandler. (Interestingly, if he gets the Mile first, he’d then be the only rider out of 24 with wins in three disciplines missing only the HM win). 

Rick Hacking was the most efficient in joining the list. Back in the ‘70s, he notched up four career Grand National Championship wins – one Mile, one Half-Mile, one TT, and one Short Track. 

All that said, Daniels probably doesn’t need any extra motivation this weekend. But if he does, he’s got it. 

And to be fair, Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) is in the same position this weekend with multiple Mile, Half-Mile, and Short Track wins to his name, although it would require an even bigger upset to make a reality. 

It’s a Compliment, Really 

From the macro perspective, it’s got to be pretty cool to build your career to the place where it’s a bigger, better story when you lose compared to when you win. 

But in the micro, it’s probably somewhat less than cool when you’re provided actual evidence of that. 

Daniels’ narrow victory last time out was arguably the centerpiece showdown of the season to date, as it saw the emerging superstar finally come out on top of a head-to-head duel with Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) after previously being bested by the reigning champ by margins of 0.042, 0.097, 0.174, 0.573, 1.107, and 1.132 seconds this season. 

Despite Mees storming up alongside him exiting the race’s final corner, Daniels kept it pinned and managed to hold on by 0.095 seconds. The win provided a huge boost to his morale while allowing him to reclaim the championship lead in what could prove to be a pivotal moment in the shape of Daniels’ career. 

But Mees deserves credit even in the rare defeat. Late in the race, Daniels had the line, the speed, and the momentum. For a moment, it looked as if he might set sail, but Mees managed to figure it out quickly enough to mount a pretty remarkable last-gasp attempt to steal away the race. 

The move would have worked on most opponents – and it might have worked on Daniels had he not been backed into a corner by so many previous near misses. 

But if the outsized attention garnered by an “aberrant” result has Mees’ longing for the days when he was viewed as the underdog, he’ll get to play one this weekend. 

The Titans of TT 

While Mees is something of an underrecognized Peoria TT ace with his seven prior runner-up finishes, he’ll be up against it this weekend due to the presence of the venue’s acknowledged masters. 

JD BeachHenry Wiles (No. 17 Trucking Indian FTR750), and Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke) are unquestioned Peoria TT geniuses… even if there are questions surrounding each one’s bid this weekend. 

For Beach, it’s merely a matter of once again living up to sky-high expectations. After winning seven of the series’ most recent eight TTs on a variety of left-right-jump layouts, anything less than victory will be considered a disappointment. That uncompromising reality can weigh on a rider, and Beach has sometimes looked more relieved than overjoyed after successfully stacking his TT wins tally that much higher. 

Which makes Wiles’ run of 14 consecutive Peoria TT victories all the more impressive. But the last one came five years ago. While he was only beaten straight up for the first time since 2003 a year ago, that one can be written off due to the lengthy absence from the scene that immediately preceded his re-entry. While Wiles will be better prepared this year after making another return midway through this season, exactly how prepared will only be answered on Sunday. 

Bauman’s status as a Peoria TT titan has been hindered somewhat due to timing. With all apologies to Chris Carr (whom we recently said one could make a defensible argument as the all-around GOAT), one could make a defensible argument that Beach and Wiles are the two greatest TT riders in Grand National Championship history. 

Bauman, meanwhile, has been almost as good as both in prior Peoria TT showdowns and actually handed Beach that solitary loss in his last eight TTs in the 2019 edition of the race. His question mark is related to his mount. The KTM 790 Duke may be his Achilles heel or the key to reigning supreme. It’s hard to guess. He was already strong enough to finish on the box at the Arizona Super TT earlier this year, albeit some 15 seconds behind Beach. But that was a long time ago, and the Rick Ware Racing team has made huge strides with the machine, at least on the ovals. Where it stacks up this weekend, again, will only be made known come Sunday. 

Gone Fishin’ 

Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750) is one schedule to secure his first-career Mission SuperTwins championship top-five ranking. He added to that cause again at Bridgeport Speedway by coming home a close fourth, his sixth top-five result of the season. 

He’s currently locked in a battle with Robinson and Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Indian FTR750) for both fifth in the standings and bragging rights as the year’s top independent Indian entry. 

While Robinson has more podiums (three to one) and Vanderkooi has a better top result (2nd vs 3rd), Fisher has been more consistently in the mix than either of his foes. 

The sledding could be a bit tougher this weekend; Fisher’s career finishes at the Peoria TT are (in reverse chronological order) 11th, 6th, 15th, 9th, 8th, and 10th (although he did finish as the runner-up here during his title-winning Parts Unlimited AFT Singles season in 2015). 

But even if a seventh ‘23 top five is not in the cards this weekend, Fisher still has a few strong opportunities left with which to make a big impression in what’s already been an impressive campaign. 

Estenson’s Extravaganza 

If Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) wasn’t destined to win last week in New Jersey, his Estenson Racing teammate, Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F), would have been. 

The two were the class of the field in the Parts Unlimited AFT Singles Main Event. And their 1-2 set the stage for an evening that also saw Dallas Daniels earn Yamaha’s first Half-Mile victory since Kenny Roberts won the Terre Haute Half-Mile almost a half-century ago (1976), while teammate JD Beach joined him on the podium in third. 

Was it the best overall weekend yet for Estenson Racing? Perhaps, but there’s some pretty stiff competition for those honors. Consider a few other standout team performances: 

Beach earned his first premier-class Progressive AFT victory at the 2019 Arizona Super TT, the first brick laid for the TT fortress he’s currently building. It was also the first-ever win for the team’s Yamaha MT-07 DT racebike and came at the squad’s home round. To add to the team’s joy, Jake Johnson joined Beach in the top five while the team’s then-singles pilot, Ryan Wells (No. 94 Moto Anatomy X Powered by Royal Enfield 650), finished on the podium of his Main Event as well. 

Later that year, Beach and Johnson went 1-2 in a thrilling Buffalo Chip TT, while Wells came home fourth in the accompanying Parts Unlimited AFT Singles race. 

And then at the 2021 Atlanta Super TT – Yamaha USA’s home round – Estenson Racing swept all three Main Events, with Beach winning the Mission SuperTwins race and Daniels securing victory in both the Parts Unlimited AFT Singles and Mission Production Twins Mains. It gets even better… Beach’s premier-class teammate, Kolby Carlile (No. 36 G&G Racing/Yamaha Racing Yamaha MT-07), finished fifth, while Daniels’ Parts Unlimited AFT Singles stablemate, Mikey Rush, made it a 1-2 in their joint effort on the team’s 450s. 

At last year’s Sacramento Mile, Daniels and Brunner each won their respective Main Events at the historic event, while Beach added a fourth-place result 

And earlier this year at the ‘23 Arizona Super TT, Beach and Daniels notched up another TT 1-2 for the squad, while Brunner picked up a 4th in his race. 

Considering the past Peoria excellence of Beach, Daniels, and Brunner – not to mention the TT potential of accomplished roadracer Drane – this weekend might just be shaping up to be another addition to that list. 

Anyone’s Game 

It’s actually quite difficult to pick a winner in this weekend’s contest in the Parts Unlimited AFT Singles class. 

Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) has to be considered the favorite; he comes in with two consecutive Peoria TT wins to his name and is always on his game at the TTs.  

That said, the first of those came only after Henry Wiles was DQ’d and while certainly an reliably excellent TT pilot, Whale hasn’t been a nigh-unbeatable TT force in the class the way, say, Jesse Janisch (No. 33 Wally Brown Racing/Haversack KTM 790 Duke) was during his reign. 

In fact, most of the leading riders are pretty adept TT riders, which isn’t always the case. Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F), BrunnerMorgen Mischler (No. 13 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R), and Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) have all run up front in recent TTs, and, as mentioned just above, Drane has the tools to do so as well. 

As does defending champ Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F), who finished as runner-up to Whale at this year’s Arizona Super TT. This weekend, he’ll be looking to join his father, Joe Kopp, as a Peoria TT winner. At the least, he’ll be hoping to demote his 2021 “save of the year” as his leading claim to fame at the venue. 

Meanwhile, riders like Cole Zabala (No. 49 BigR Racing/Vinson Construction Honda CRF450R) and Ferran Cardús (No. 377 Roof Systems/Brothers Powersports Honda CRF450R) could step forward and create some potential movement in the championship standings. 

Far From Average 

There are plenty of impressive numbers we could delve into this week, including JD Beach’s recent TT record, Henry Wiles’ unfathomable 14-race unbeaten run at Peoria from 2004-2018, and the respective 13- and 9-race podium streaks of title contenders Dallas Daniels and Jared Mees. 

And, in fact, that last one plays into what we’re actually going to dig into this week. 

Here are the average finishing positions of every Grand National Champion since 2010, when the combined GNC was reinstituted: 

2022: 3.0 (Jared Mees) 

2021: 3.1 (Jared Mees) 

2020: 2.3 (Briar Bauman) 

2019: 4.2 (Briar Bauman) 

2018: 2.4 (Jared Mees) 

2017: 1.5 (Jared Mees) 

2016: 4.2 (Bryan Smith) 

2015: 4.6 (Jared Mees) 

2014: 3.6 (Jared Mees) 

2013: 4.3 (Brad Baker) 

2012: 4.3 (Jared Mees) 

2011: 3.4 (Jake Johnson) 

2010: 4.3 (Jake Johnson) 

Through 13 rounds this season, title leader Daniels’ average finish is 1.9 and second-ranked Mees’ is 2.2.  

In other words, Mees is currently on pace to have a better average finishing position than any of the last 13 Grand National Champions save the one he registered during his monstrous 2017 season – a season in which he won ten races and took the championship by an 89-point margin – and yet still fail to win the championship. 

At this rate, either rider will make a most worthy champion. And the other will be the unfortunate victim of posting a historically great season in the same year another rider posted a marginally greater season. 

Reset Button 

Here’s your current Parts Unlimited AFT Singles championship standings following 13 of 18 rounds:

  1. Kody Kopp: 255 (6 wins) 

  1. Chase Saathoff: 210 

  1. Trevor Brunner: 208 

  1. Tom Drane: 207 (3 wins) 

  1. Trent Lowe: 196 (2 wins) 

  1. Max Whale: 196 (1 win) 

  1. Dalton Gauthier: 187 (1 win) 

  1. Morgen Mischler: 142 

  1. James Ott:127 

  1. Chad Cose: 123 

 And here’s where they stood following six of 18 rounds: 

  1. Kody Kopp: 127 (3 wins) 

  1. Dalton Gauthier: 108 (1 win) 

  1. Max Whale: 102 (1 win) 

  1. Chase Saathoff: 97 

  1. Trevor Brunner: 93 

  1. Morgen Mischler: 74 

  1. Trent Lowe: 71 (1 win) 

  1. Tom Drane: 62 

  1. James Ott: 58 

  1. Justin Jones: 51 

So if you apply a little simple arithmetic to see how the riders have performed over the last seven rounds, you get this:

  1. Tom Drane: 145 (3 wins) 

  1. Kody Kopp: 128 (3 wins) 

  1. Trent Lowe: 125 (1 win) 

  1. Trevor Brunner: 115 

  1. Chase Saathoff: 113 

  1. Max Whale: 94 

  1. Dalton Gauthier: 79 

  1. Chad Cose: 75 

  1. James Ott: 69 

  1. Morgen Mischler: 68 

Trends in both directions are quite easy to parse when comparing the season’s first six and most recent seven races. However, one screams loud above the din: 

Tom Drane is on absolute fire.