Daytona’s Motorcycle Race’s Produce Excitement, Unexpected Results, and History
The eyes of most of the racing world are divided between Bristol, Melbourne, and Sebring Florida. However on the east coast of Florida, at the same place where a few weeks ago Juan Pablo Montoya took out a jet dryer on prime time network TV, the AMA Pro racing series ran it’s season opener on the Daytona roval. The AMA Pro Superbikes and sport bikes took the the track along with the Daytona Superbikes, which run the infamous Daytona 200, a few hours away from the 12 Hours of Sebring. At Daytona Elena Myers, Josh Hayes, Blake Young, and Joey Pascarella took the opening wins of the 2012 season.
Superbike race 1 was not the best race of the weekend; Hayes took a dominating lead and was never really challenged. The main point of interest is that Josh Hayes got his first Superbike win at Daytona. Superbike race 2 started much the same way with Hayes dominating in Formula One style until the late stage of the race when Blake Young, 2011 runner up, was able to fight back and eventually take the win in a photo finish. Roger Hayden was 3rd in both races. Larry Pegram’s BMW appeared to be in good form as it found the top 5 both races. Josh Herrin, upgrading from the Daytona Superbikes, crashed in race 1 but rebounded and finished 4th in race 2.
Daytona Supersport saw Elana Myers take her 2nd career victory (first was at Infineon), and first at Daytona. In fact it’s the first win at Daytona in a professional race by a female competitor, according to SpeedTV. Sorry Danica and Johanna. That’s if you count Daytona Sportbikes as a professional series, and that could be a point of contention.
The Daytona 200 is an oddity among motorcycle road races as it features pitstops. Also odd is how the 2nd tier series (Daytona Superbikes) run the 200 instead of the more prestigious Superbikes. This is due to safety concerns that come from the speed of the Superbikes over a long distance race. Last year’s 200 was marred by a Dunlop tire failure but this year’s ran without incident. Joey Pascarella, riding for Project 1 Atlanta, pulled off an upset victory. Interestingly Pascarella, unlike many of the underdog winners from Speedweeks, dominated the race. Despite leading the most laps Pascarella went into the last lap followed by three other riders. They attempted to draft pass him but didn’t get ahead of him before the start/finish line. This race also saw a photo finish between Pascarella and Jason Di Salvo. Unusually for Daytona the rider leading coming out of the infield and onto the speedway section of the track managed to win the race. Normally at a Daytona AMA race, much like in a NASCAR restrictor plate race, being in second is advantageous as it allows a rider to draft and win. But in the Superbike, Sportbike, and 200 this tactic didn’t work.
If you thought Indycar at Texas was crazy then AMA at Daytona would be full on insanity. Daytona is a bit of an oddity among AMA races and a bit controversial as well. Although tied in with Bike Week at Daytona the amount of fans who attend the race is not very impressive. There are some safety and tire concerns that are brought up by this track and at one point the DMG tried to make them race at night, which has thankfully been changed back to normal. The DMG’s rules are somewhat problematic and have caused the withdraw of major motorcycle manufacturer, especially Honda. Despite these issues, this year’s slate of races at Daytona managed to produce exciting races that, while overshadowed by the other races this weekend, deserve to be watched. Plus, this week’s races may be the only one’s televised at a reasonable hour! Now onto Homestead, Road Atlanta, and eventually Road America and Mid Ohio. Unlike in Indycar, Mid Ohio is one of the best AMA races of the year along with Road America. If you want to know what good road racing looks like, AMA Superbike at Mid Ohio and Road America would be two examples.