Ben Bostrom Scores First Daytona 200 Motorcycle Race Win Under the Lights.
Ben Bostrom took the lead from M4 Suzuki rider Jason DiSalvo on the run through Daytona International Speedway’s tri-oval on Lap 53 and then joined young teammate Josh Herrin in scoring a one-two finish for Team Graves Yamaha Friday in the Daytona 200 by Honda AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL race.
Starting first on the grid on his No. 1s Yamaha YZF-R6 after winning the pole in Thursday’s single-bike Superpole qualifying, Bostrom became the first rider since Miguel Duhamel in 2005 to win America’s premier motorcycle road race from the top starting spot. He won his first career Daytona 200 victory in his fifth start and had a previous best finish of second in 2003.
"I’ve tried to win this thing," Bostrom said. "We have been on the pole here twice now and I have lost the race here by two-thousandths of a second. I know what it’s like in the heart when you take second at Daytona. It hurts. Now I know what it’s like to win."
Bostrom led from the start, lost the lead momentarily in the infield to Danny Eslick and the No. 9 Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing/RMR Buell 1125R on the opening lap, but then powered past Eslick to officially lead Lap 1. From there, Bostrom stayed in the lead pack for the entire race, frequently swapping the top spots with Eslick, Team Graves Yamaha teammates Herrin and Josh Hayes (No. 4 Yamaha YZF-R6) and M4 Suzuki teammates DiSalvo and Martin Cardenas.
"The race was really intense and under the lights it was really spectacular," Bostrom said. "When we started out, there were several of us going tooth and nail at the front. I loved every minute of it."
Bostrom crossed the finish line .554 of a second ahead of Herrin’s similar No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6 while DiSalvo finished third on his No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600.
The race was slowed by two safety car periods, including the first on lap 36 due to a temporary lighting failure on the back straight. A red flag was shown a few laps later when the fourth Team Graves rider, Tommy Aquino (No. 6 Yamaha YZF-R6), went down after being hit from behind when the field jammed up while slowing behind the safety car. Aquino was examined and released from the infield medical center and the field was reformed for a single-file restart.
After a few warm-up laps, racing resumed only to see the safety car return a few laps later for the downed bike of Kris Turner (No. 3 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600). The race returned to green on Lap 49 for a dash to the finish with Bostrom, Hayes, Herrin and DiSalvo at the point. DiSalvo took the lead on Lap 52 as he battled with the three Graves Yamahas.
"The M4 Suzuki was running really strong up top out there," DiSalvo said. "I think if we could have been a little bit closer and had a little bit better preparation coming into the final lap we could have made a run. We could have got the double draft and I was sitting in third thinking this was going to work out, but it wasn’t to be tonight."
After Bostrom took the lead for good, Hayes was in hot pursuit only to lose control of his Yamaha exiting the infield’s east horseshoe section. Hayes was uninjured after the tumble but will have to wait another year for his next shot at what is becoming an elusive Daytona 200 victory. He led a race high 27 laps, Bostrom led 22 laps, Cardenas – who finished eighth – was in front for four laps and DiSalvo and Herrin each led a single lap.
"It was a really awesome race and really eventful and probably one of the most exciting races I have been in," Herrin said. "For being my first 200, actually for my first race over 20 laps, I think I did really good and I am really happy with it. We got a Yamaha one-two finish and that might be the first time that has been done in the 200."
Jamie Hacking (No. 88 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) and Shawn Higbee (No. 11 Higbee-Racing.com Buell 1125R) rounded out the top five to make it four different manufacturers represented in the top-five finishers.
Next up for AMA Pro Road Racing is the AMA Pro Suzuki Superbike Challenge, Round 2 of 2009’s schedule at Auto Club Speedway, March 20 – 22.