Dallas Daniels put an exclamation point on his triumphant 2020 Progressive American Flat Track AFT Singles title campaign with a trademark victory that clinched the championship Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Estenson Racing prodigy upped his win streak to six and increased his points advantage to 80 in the process, ending the AFT Singles championship fight a full three races early. Teammate Mikey Rush started off the day in promising fashion before ultimately gritting his way to a 14th-place finish. AFT SuperTwins pilot JD Beach raced inside the top 10 in before a technical issue pushed him down to an eventual 13th.
Daniels rolled into Charlotte riding a five-race winning streak aboard his Yamaha YZ450F and was just one victory away from securing the ‘20 AFT Singles title. With the pressure on, the 17-year-old stepped up in a huge way. Throughout the Main Event, he took the best shots a motivated pack of rivals could offer in their joint quest to bring his streak to an end. The heated contest came down to a final-lap showdown with five riders still in contention for the win. And for the second race in a row, Daniels made the race’s decisive pass on the last lap, storming up the inside to claim the checkered flag by 0.067 seconds and seal the championship.
Rush opened the day in fine style, running second to Daniels in the opening practice on a track that suited his style. However, he steadily lost ground as the evening progressed, qualifying seventh, taking seventh in his Semi, and then racing to 14th. The Californian was slowed by nagging injuries in the long Main Event that proved both mentally and physically exhausting. Afterward, he was left looking forward to improving tomorrow night before moving on to next weekend’s Daytona Short Track, where he previously earned a pair of premier-class victories.
Beach was Estenson Racing’s sole representative in the AFT SuperTwins race with teammate Kolby Carlile on the mend after undergoing season-ending knee surgery earlier this week. With wet conditions creating an opportunity to earn a season’s best finish, the Owensboro rider put forth a determined charge. At the restart of the once red-flagged Main, Beach quickly made up several positions, climbing as high as ninth. Unfortunately, a minor technical issue slowed his momentum and he faded back to 13th in the end.
The Estenson Racing team will be back in action on Saturday during the second half of the Charlotte Half-Mile doubleheader as newly-crowned AFT Singles champ Daniels looks to add to his six-race win streak and eight-win tally on the season.
Tommy Hayden – Estenson Racing Team Manager
“Today was a great night for the team with Dallas wrapping up the championship with three races remaining. It’s really good to get that out of the way. The team has worked really hard all year — during the offseason in testing and during the season. There are a lot of good people here involved and a lot of people who put in a lot of hard work to make that happen. It feels good for the team to do that for all of our sponsors and all of our supporters. That was definitely the highlight of the night. With Mikey, we tried a few things for the race. He kind of struggled in the Semi and the Main. We’re not really sure what’s going on there. Hopefully, we can figure that out and get him back towards the front. He’s capable, we just have to get him comfortable and going good again.
“In the SuperTwins race, JD was moving forward. I thought maybe the red flag would help us, and it did for a while. He got a good start and was solidly inside the top 10. I’m not really sure what happened — he had some kind of issue and the bike wasn’t running quite as well at the end. Hopefully, the weather holds out and we can get another chance at it tomorrow.”
Dallas Daniels – Estenson Racing AFT Singles
“It definitely feels amazing. It’s been a dream of mine and my family’s for sure. It’s a big goal, but it’s just a stepping stone for the goals I have set for myself. Obviously, I want to be a Grand National Twins Champion, but this is awesome.
“Today, I was really stressing out just because I knew it was possible. We were kind of struggling earlier in the day with the front-end of the motorcycle, and I wasn’t able to run the same lines as some people. I was worried that was going to come into play, but I had this line where I could go in low and let it drift up, and I knew that would stay because the high line was starting to go away. It was a crazy race — it was basically the same thing as Atlanta. On the last lap, I sized the leader up, waited for the right time, and passed him and then sort of blocked him in (Turns) 3 and 4 so he couldn’t get back by. I knew I had the championship if I won. I wasn’t sure if I got second that would quite work; I’m not really good at math. So I was like, ‘I’ll just win so it’ll be clear that I won it, and I don’t have to think about it.’ It was great. With three races left, we can kind of relax, but we still want to win races.”
Mikey Rush – Estenson Racing AFT Singles
“We showed up here and the track was nice and sticky and wet, and that usually suits my style. We just tried little tweaks on the bike all day to get myself more comfortable. The first practice we were good, but we just went steadily backwards. It’s not helping me with my hip and my knee hurting me throughout the day, especially when we’re doing over twenty-some laps in the Main. It starts hurting 10 laps in, so I’m kind of milking that side of my body to try to not hurt it any more. I guess I have to get that out of my mind and block it out. I’m just in a slump, basically. Hopefully we can get a better finish tomorrow and then go to Daytona, which is one of my favorite places to race.”
JD Beach – Estenson Racing AFT SuperTwins
“I think it was just kind of the story of the year for us. If we didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck. The way the track was today, being overcast and wet, the bike actually wasn’t too bad. Everybody was worried before the Main Event when it started raining, but it actually helped us a little bit. We started out okay and the bike really started to feel better after a few laps. The red flag let us regroup and I was feeling good. We got a good jump and were sitting inside the top 10. I feel like with our bike and where we’re at, that’s where we should be on a good day. But all a sudden we had a slight problem, and I just had to limp it home. It’s frustrating because we’re getting to the end of the season, and we haven’t had a good result yet. Hopefully, it will rain tonight and make the track nice and grippy, and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”