Saturday Daytona SportBike
As the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL teams awoke on Saturday morning, they were met with sustained high winds of at least 20 to 30 miles an hour with some gusts up to 45.
The teams went out for their scheduled morning warm-up session in preparation for the second and final qualifying session and the first of two races at Auto Club Speedway this weekend.
After a short period, the winds proved to be too severe for any further on track activity to take place. As the teams, riders and fans tried to make the best of their time, there was nothing anyone could do but wait out the high wind delay.
A number of scenarios were discussed and, after conditions improved, the Daytona SportBike riders readied themselves for a 4:35 p.m. local time start.
Following the same procedures that were established by AMA Pro Racing officials in conjunction with the riders, teams and track personnel, a short warm-up session was run to ensure the riders were familiar with the track conditions before their race start.
Following the incredible AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike race, the Daytona SportBikes went ahead and put on a show of their own.
Danny Eslick on his No. 1 GEICO Powersports/RMR Suzuki led from pole position ahead of a fast-starting Tommy Aquino on his No. 6 Team Graves Yamaha, Daytona 200 winner Josh Herrin, also riding a Team Graves Yamaha, and Team Latus Motors Racing Ducati rider Steve Rapp, followed by Dane Westby and Martin Cardenas on his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki.
Westby, riding his Project 1Yamaha, was the man on the move and he took Cardenas with him towards the front. Aquino and Rapp fell back and the group comprised of Eslick, Herrin, Westby and Cory West on his Vesrah Suzuki, put on a breathtaking show.
Lap after lap, they fought back and forth, with Eslick holding station at the front for the first six laps. Occasionally pulling out a slight lead, it was just as quickly diminished as the riders behind fought back on the front banking and all throughout the many twists and turns of the infield section.
After his heartbreaking Daytona race, a vey determined Cardenas showed why he is a major threat for the championship by fighting his way to the front on lap 12 and holding off the very determined assaults of Eslick, Westby and Herrin.
Westby led for two laps and had one of the greatest saves of the day as he had a huge moment and was somehow able to stay on top of the Yamaha and only lose a couple of seconds to the leaders.
He fought back as Eslick and Cardenas put on a demonstration of hard fought racing with total respect as each rider gave the other only just enough room as they battled for the win.
On the last lap, Eslick made his final lunge for the win in turn 11 and he and Cardenas ran side-by-side through the corner, inches apart but neither rider giving an inch.
Cardenas held on for the fantastic win ahead of Eslick, Westby, Herrin and West. Rounding out the top ten were Aquino, who stayed with it and took sixth, Rapp in seventh and Chris Fillmore, riding the other Vesrah Suzuki, taking eighth.
Bobby Fong took a solid ninth place, riding his DNA Energy Drink CNR Motorsports Ducati, and Clinton Seller rounded out a great day for Project 1 Yamaha with tenth place.
Eslick was delighted with his race and had fun too.
"I never gave up, and tried everything to stay in front early and then I kept working on trying to win the race. I saw both the front and back of Dane’s leathers when he had his moment and I thought he was going to end up in my lap but somehow he held on and saved it."
Cardenas said he thought Danny had gotten away at the start but he kept working and made some passes and then fought as hard as he could to stay up front until the end.
"I knew he (Eslick) was going to try something at the end, I just didn’t think he would try and pass me there, I saw his front wheel but I just held on and I knew the Suzuki was good and we took the win."
All in all, it was another incredible race and tomorrow’s race two should be just as wild as the same group go at it again at 1:00 p.m. local time Sunday at Auto Club Speedway. Be sure to check your local SPEED listings for coverage of this weekend’s races.