Estenson Racing Yamaha’s Dallas Daniels becomes first racer since AMA Hall of Famer Ricky Graham to win two Nationals in one day
May 4, 2021
By Joy Burgess
Saturday, May 1, 2021, proved to be an incredible night in racing for Yamaha and Estenson Racing. Not only did Yamaha clinch two 250 AMA Supercross Championships in Salt Lake City that evening, the Yamaha/Estenson Racing effort made history in Atlanta where, for the first time ever, a manufacturer pulled off a victory sweep across all three classes in American Flat Track — perhaps appropriate considering Yamaha was the title sponsor of the Atlanta Super TT and has its American headquarters just miles from the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
In the premier SuperTwins class it was JD Beach who piloted the Yamaha MT-07 DT to victory after looking fast all night. Beach grabbed the holeshot and finished first in his semifinal, and did the same in the Main. The Kentucky native was never challenged, winning by several seconds.
Beach came into the weekend feeling like he had something to prove. According to trackside reporter Kristen Beat, “In 2020 the [Estenson Racing/Yamaha] team was feeling defeated,” she reported from Atlanta, “but their confidence was up after Beach’s podium in Volusia.” And after practice and later his performance in the semifinal, “JD Beach [was] on fire,” she noted.
When the lights turned from red to yellow to green, Beach showed that fire, instantly taking the lead with Coolbeth-Nila Racing’s Sammy Halbert and Indian Motorcycle/Progressive Insurance’s Briar Bauman right behind him. S&S Cycle’s Tyler Ohara, who would also be racing in the MotoAmerica King of the Baggers race the next day, held a respectable seventh place early, dropping back a bit later in the race to finish eighth.
As Beach pulled away and the rest of the pack lost touch with him, Mission Foods/Roof Systems of Dallas TX’s Jarrod Vanderkooi and Briar Bauman battled for the second. Beach snagged the checkered flag nearly five seconds ahead of the rest of the pack, with Vanderkooi holding off Bauman to take second, his best-ever premier-class finish.
“This feels amazing,” Beach told Beat after the race. “I can’t thank my team enough. I was kinda in a dark spot with so much pressure. But this was my best race ever! Like [250 AMA Supercross racer] Jett Lawrence said after his win a few weeks ago, ‘You gotta let the big dogs eat!’”
In the AFT Production Twins class the big story going into the Atlanta Super TT was Estenson Racing Yamaha’s Dallas Daniels, who would make his Production Twins debut and ride his YZ450F in AFT Singles, where he was reigning champion.
Before the Production Twins Main he’d commented he “wasn’t concerned about adjusting to the Production Twins class,” something he’d made apparent in his semi win. The Main event started with Johnny Lewis crashing the Royal Enfield early, resulting in a red flag. After the restart, Daniels quickly took the lead, easily winning the race with D&D Cycles/Vance & Hines’ Dalton Gauthier and Memphis Shades/Vinson Construction’s Dan Bromley taking second and third, respectively.
“The track is amazing” Daniels said on the podium after the Production Twins Main, “and my road racing experience really kicked in. This is just the beginning, and I can’t wait for the next Main. The [AFT] Singles [class] is our main priority.”
In that Singles Main it was Daniels and teammate Mikey Rush battling early for the lead, but an early crash resulted in a red flag and a complete restart. After the restart it was Daniels in front with Ferran Cardus (riding the Roof Systems of Dallas/Vanilla Cycles Honda CRF450R) and Mikey Rush close behind.
Meanwhile, Ryan Sipes (aboard the Red Bull/Troy Lee Designs GASGAS MC450F) and Travis Pastrana (on the Red Bull KTM 450 SX-F) were duking it out mid-pack. Prior to the race, Sipes bet Pastrana $1 that he’d beat him at the Atlanta Super TT. Earlier in the evening, Sipes had taken third in his semifinal, with Pastrana coming in seventh — and making his first American Flat Track main event ever in the process. The two finished the AFT Singles Main eighth and ninth, respectively, leaving Sipes with bragging rights and a buck from their bet.
In the end it was all Daniels and Rush, with Cardus not far behind in third.
When Daniels first began his American Flat Track career in the AFT Singles class he was often compared to a young Ricky Graham. And with his Production Twins and Singles class wins in Atlanta he put an exclamation point on that comparison, becoming the first person since AMA Hall of Famer Graham to win two Nationals in one day, which Graham did back in the 1990s.
“I got the holeshot [in the Singles Main],” Daniels said later,” “and knew I was the guy. I just needed to maintain. I was kind of nervous, and I was like, ‘Put in laps, put in laps, hit your marks.’ As I was going into the last corner, the sound was kind of going away. I looked at the jumbotron and saw I had a little gap. I knew I had to keep going fast but I thought I could relax a bit. But then I went into the righthander and ended up going off the track and had to go through the mud. My heart rate was back up, so I almost went off the track again with two laps to go. I just had to calm down. But this is awesome!”
Awesome. Just like Yamaha and Estenson Racing in Atlanta.