DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2022 Progressive American Flat Track season has finally arrived at its crown jewel, the Mission Springfield Mile I & II presented by Drag Specialties, which will take place at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois, for a Labor Day Weekend doubleheader on September 3-4.
Always a highlight of any Progressive AFT season, this year’s stop is especially critical. It represents two of the season’s final four rounds, and will thus pay out 50% of the remaining points to determine this year’s national champions. Additionally, it will be two of the final three opportunities to earn points toward the Progressive Triple Crown and its associated $25,000 prize.
Any rider who has accumulated as many titles and race wins as Jared Mees has successfully faced down many a pivotal race weekend. That said, this year’s Springfield Mile must rank up near the top of that list for the reigning Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle king.
Off the track, the event marks the first year it’s being overseen by Jared and his wife, Nichole Mees, under the Mees Promotions banner. Meanwhile, he currently holds a narrow title advantage, leading primary rival Briar Bauman by nine points and Estenson Racing Yamaha teammates Dallas Daniels and J.D. Beach by 16 and 29 points, respectively.
By one line of thinking, the timing couldn’t be more fortuitous for Mees, who has won the Springfield Mile seven times in all, including five of the last six. Should he sweep here like he did a year ago, it could once again springboard him to the No. 1 plate.
However, that’s easier said than done. While Mees is easily the most successful Mile rider on the tour, Daniels has won two of three Miles to date this season. Furthermore, after Springfield, the season will head to its third Short Track of the season – the first of which Beach and Daniels went 1-2, the second of which Bauman won – and then end right back where it started – at Volusia Speedway Park, where Bauman stood victorious.
In other words, Mees could really use another trademark Springfield performance to put him in the best position possible to retain his crown.
Other riders will more than likely play key roles in deciding this year’s championship considering their sparkling histories at the venue. Brandon Robinson doubled at the venue in 2013 and is typically fighting at the front in Springfield. Home state hero Jeffrey Carver Jr. took a hugely popular win in Springfield in 2018 and has been on the box three times since. And Bronson Bauman battled it out with his brother, Briar, and Mees (among others) en route to third here in 2019.
Mission Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines
Through consistent, relentless excellence, Jesse Janisch has finally separated himself from defending class champion Cory Texter in this year’s Mission Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines championship fight.
Over the last 11 rounds, Janisch has won six times and finished as runner-up on three other occasions. The bounty of points earned in that run has allowed him to gradually work up almost a full race’s points gap over Texter (24 to be precise). While not sufficiently protected from catastrophic mistake or mechanical misfortune, Janisch is now in an enviable position.
Texter, meanwhile, must do all that he can to win, and hope the likes of Michael Rush, Johnny Lewis, Dan Bromley and Billy Ross manage to steal some points back from Janisch behind him.
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
Kody Kopp enters the Mission Springfield Mile I & II with a real opportunity to leave it crowned the 2022 Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER champion. He currently boasts a 48-point advantage. Should he grow it by just three more points over the weekend, he’ll be your new champ.
In fact, only five riders still have a mathematical chance at holding off Kopp, no matter how slim. That crew of talented underdogs is made up of Morgen Mischler, Trevor Brunner, Dalton Gauthier, Max Whale and Trent Lowe.
As it so happens, all five have been on the podium in the three prior Mile races this season, with the wins going to second-, third- and fourth-ranked Mischler, Brunner, and Gauthier.
Expect them to put up a fight, and, at the very least, do everything in their power to delay Kopp’s coronation.