Estenson Racing’s Dallas Daniels bounced back from a disappointing American Flat Track opening round to come out on top in an absolute barn burner of an AFT Singles race at Volusia Speedway Park. Mikey Rush was also in the fight to the finish line and finished third. The AFT SuperTwins team also had a better second day of racing. JD Beach scored another top-10 finish and Kolby Carlile improved on Friday’s result to finish 14th.
It was still a hot July day in Barberville, Florida, but the track conditions were much better for Saturday’s Volusia Half-Mile II. In addition to better track conditions, the team was able to build on what they learned on Friday to get some better results. Rush came out swinging with a win in the first AFT Singles Semi, and Daniels got back on track with a third-place finish in the second Semi after missing out on the final transfer spot the day before.
In the Main Event, Rush grabbed the holeshot with his young teammate getting a good start as well in third. The Estenson Racing riders had a fight on their hands though, with an eight-rider battle in the lead pack. Both Rush and Daniels had a turn up front, but there were multiple lead changes and a lot of shuffling in the pack throughout the eight-minute-plus-two-lap Main.
In the closing laps, the 17-year-old was in the lead with his veteran teammate behind him when a downed rider brought out the red flag, making for a two-lap sprint after the restart. When racing resumed it came down to the wire with a three-way fight to the finish line, but Daniels was able to hold them off to take his second-career AFT Singles win by .02 of a second. After a disappointing first round, the win was a big boost to the Illinois rider’s championship fight, moving him to sixth in the standings and 11 points adrift of the leader.
His veteran teammate joined him on the podium in third, crossing the line .101 behind Daniels. Although Rush was hoping for a 1-2 finish, it was a good weekend for the Californian who leaves the season opener third in the championship, trailing by four points.
Beach was feeling good on his Yamaha MT-O7 DT and got his night off to a good start with a second-place finish in the Semi. That gave him the third pick and a front row spot on the grid for the Main Event which he took full advantage of and grabbed the holeshot. Unfortunately, a gamble on tire choice proved not to be ideal and he was quickly shuffled back to fifth. Without enough grip, he lost a few more positions in those early laps, but was holding steady in ninth and running consistently faster laps than in Friday’s Main. With two laps to go, Beach had a technical issue but was able to secure a 10th-place finish.
Carlile also was more comfortable on day two at Volusia Speedway Park. He and the team continued to make progress on finding the right setup. The 23-year-old qualified 15th with an eighth-place finish in the Semi and was able to advance to 14th before the half-way mark and maintain that position to the checkered flag.
Estenson Racing Team Manager
“Today for sure was a lot more positive for the whole team. We’re glad to take advantage of a doubleheader weekend and take what we learned yesterday and apply it today. We definitely were a lot stronger today. We put up a better fight in both classes. On the 450 in particular, Dallas rebounded very well today and came back and did what we all thought he was capable of. It was also definitely good to see Mikey ride another strong race. He rode well all day and won his Semi. I’m really happy with how things are going for him.
“Then on the Twins side, we improved today as well. We definitely went faster and the lap times were a lot more consistent over the race. There were a couple things I think we could have done better for the race. There were a few mistakes that we made that would have made us a little more competitive, but we learned from them and we won’t make them again in the future. Overall, it was a positive weekend. I’m just really happy to get one race under our belt. It answered a lot of questions for us and will help us move forward now.”
Estenson Racing AFT Singles
“It was a crazy race! I think that was the most I’ve been passed and the most I’ve passed anyone in a race ever, especially in my professional career. I knew I needed to stay in the top three or four. If I dropped back any more, it was going to be hard to pass. Finally I was able to pass Mikey and Chad (Cose) for the lead. With two to go, the red flag came out which was not what I wanted to see. I knew I just needed to get a really good start and not tighten up. So I tried to stay loose and we came out with the win. To be honest, rolling out for the Semi I was really nervous after yesterday’s performance. It was really disappointing for myself and the team. I wanted to prove to not just my team, but everybody watching that it wasn’t a fluke deal last year. So to come back and win after not making the Main Event last night, it’s awesome.”
Estenson Racing AFT Singles
“It was an awesome, hectic race! It was a lot of fun and clean racing. I got off to a really good start and led a few laps. Then I kind of changed my lines up and started going more to the bottom of the track. I think that was a mistake for me to do that. I should have stayed at the top of the groove, it was faster up there. The bike was awesome. The whole team did a fantastic job with the motorcycle. It was the best motorcycle I’ve ridden in a long time. It was a really good showing for us to get a fourth yesterday and a third today. It would have been nice to at least get second and be one, two with Dallas, but we’re sitting good in the points. I honestly just had a great time being back at the racetrack and not stuck at home like we have been over the last several months. It’s good to be back with the guys on the team and working with everyone to keep improving. We’re just going to get better as the year continues.”
Estenson Racing AFT SuperTwins
“I think the day went well. We made some good steps from yesterday. The bike was working really well. I think every time we went out on track we just kept getting better and better. I got a good start in the Semi, finished second and felt really good. The bike was working great. Going into the Main, we kind of made a gamble with the tires. With the new tires this year and the bike working a lot different compared to last year, we took a chance and it didn’t really pay off. I got the holeshot though and led through the first turn, which is something we haven’t done on an oval before. So I think that was really good. Once the rear tire started to work well, we had some really good lap times that were really consistent. I feel like we’ve taken some really good steps this weekend with the bike. So I’m really excited to get the season going now and I feel that we have a bike that we can improve on and keep moving forward.”
Estenson Racing AFT SuperTwins
“It was a better Main Event than yesterday. So I’m happy. My body felt good. The physical work we put in during the off-season is really paying off. There are some things I can improve on for the next race. Coming in we didn’t know exactly what we needed but now we do. Thirty-eight laps is long, but fun. We’re learning a lot in general, about the bikes and the setup. As a team, we’re going to work a little better on getting comfortable earlier on in the day. We had some fast times in the Main, so we have something to build on. We’re going to put our heads together and work harder, and get ready for the next one.”