Race 1: Results and Quotes
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Larry Pegram (No. 72 Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing Ducati 1098R) dominated the AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited race while Danny Eslick (No. 9 GEICO Powersports/RMR Buell 1125R) took the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL points lead with an emotional sixth win of the year Saturday in the Tornado Nationals presented by BriggsAuto.com at Heartland Park Topeka. Today's racing action can be seen in a same-day delay telecast at 10:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT) on SPEED.
AMA American Superbike
After winning his first pole since 1996 in Friday's Superpole qualifying, Pegram took the lead at the race start and was never seriously challenged in the American Superbike race. He crossed the finish line 2.184 seconds ahead of Ben Bostrom (No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) and Blake Young (No. 79 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) finished third.
1st - Larry Pegram Speaks...
"For me, it's just validation," said Pegram, who also won earlier this season at Road America. "Here we beat everybody again, and I proved to myself I can win at this level because I had lost a lot of confidence over the years riding bikes that weren't capable of winning. You start to wonder if it might be you, but I always knew at the bottom of my heart that I could win races, especially if I got on a great motorcycle like this Ducati 1098R."
Bostrom stayed in front of the tight group of riders that also included Young, his teammate Tommy Hayden (No. 22 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) and Aaron Yates (No. 23 Brand Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) that battled in the top five throughout the race.
2nd - Ben Bostrom Speaks...
"It's a great track, and there are passing spots here believe it or not," said Bostrom, who finished second for the second consecutive race and third time this year. "The bike was fantastic, and the R1 did a good job. The rider just kind of sat on it and rode, and I was hoping to obviously race for the win. I did think I could catch Larry. Blake and I had a bit of a battle going, and Larry jumped out there and put in really, really fantastic laps. We can't let him do that for the next one, and tomorrow's a new day. We will just start again tomorrow. I am pretty much over second place already."
Young was in the thick of the battle for the final podium spot throughout the race and was under heavy pressure from Hayden and Yates in the closing laps.
3rd - Blake Young Speaks...
"We just ran out of time a little bit," said Young. "I wish we would have got more time on the bike. I think we missed the set up a little bit, but today was a really good race. We jumped in behind Ben, learned what he was doing and made some improvements. I switched up my riding style a little bit and tried to help the bike out as much as I could. I am happy with the way the race went. We learned a lot today on our setup and what to do for tomorrow. So I am going to chalk this one up and go after it twice as hard tomorrow."
Hayden finished fourth and Yates completed the top five.
Sunday's American Superbike final will close the Tornado Nationals weekend at 4 p.m.
Daytona SportBike Dedication
Danny Eslick (No. 9 GEICO Powersports/RMR Buell 1125R) charged from 10th on the grid straight to the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL championship lead with a strong victory he and the Richie Morris Racing team dedicated to the late Bruce Rossmeyer, who died in a motorcycle accident earlier this week. Eslick has now won six Daytona SportBike races this year and has regained the points lead for the first time since Road Atlanta, currently 18 points ahead of nearest rival Martin Cardenas (No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600).
1st - Danny Eslick Speaks...
"It was really unfortunate about the passing of Bruce Rossmeyer and we dedicate this win to him," Eslick said. "He was a great guy and our teammate. The family said 'go win a championship for us,' so this is the first step."
"I glanced back and Martin was all over me and that was pretty close to the end," Eslick said. "I did a couple of really good motocross block passes, and I think I was going slow enough I could have put my foot down. It was 100% clean, he raced me clean and we never touched once. That's the race I've been looking for all year, to be the points leader and all that. Martin's a heck of a guy, a great rider and I wish it wouldn't have ended that way because that would have been a heck of a battle to the checkered flag."
After a complete restart following an opening race incident, Eslick immediately began to charge through the field. He took the lead for the first time with a power move past Superpole winner Jason DiSalvo (No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) in the fast run out of the front straight on Lap 8. Eslick stayed up front through the race's halfway point but was soon challenged by Cardenas. Eslick and Cardenas, who has held the points lead for the majority of the season, swapped the lead several times in the final laps only to see Cardenas slide off course in second on Lap 18. From there Eslick was never again seriously challenged as he charged to his third straight victory.
Eslick crossed the finish line 1.810 seconds ahead of Josh Herrin (No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6) who was closely followed by his teammate Tommy Aquino (No. 6 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6).
2nd - Josh Herrin Speaks...
"I thought I was going to be able to catch him," Herrin said. "I found out a real strong point coming on to the front straightaway that I'll be able to use tomorrow. At the end of the race I wasn't riding defensive, I just rode my race. I've had a few races recently where I rode defensive and it didn't pay off, so I just rode my line and took it to the finish line. We started reeling in Danny a little bit but it wasn't enough for the end of the race. I have to congratulate Tommy, and the Buell guys for another win. We'll come back strong tomorrow."
Aquino, who led the first two laps, finished third for the second consecutive race, his best finish of the season.
3rd - Tommy Aquino Speaks...
"That was the first time I've led a race," Aquino said. "Jason seemed to be going a little slow in the beginning so I made a pass really quick. It was just, like, riding by myself, which is really what I like to do - to go out there with nobody ahead of me and put down some laps. I just made a little mistake and let Jason by and after that a couple more people passed me. I settled in, got with the pace, passed who I needed to pass and it was good. I'm really enjoying where I'm at right now. I really have to thank all my guys."
Chaz Davies (No. 57 Factory Aprilia /Millennium Technologies Team Aprilia RSV1000R) finished fourth for his sixth top-five result of the year while Bobby Fong (No. 51 Paradigm Racing Yamaha YZF-R6) finished fifth. It was the best result of the year for Fong and the Paradigm team that also finished sixth in the Daytona 200 with Barrett Long.
DiSalvo also went off course while running second to Eslick on Lap 10 but recovered to finish sixth.
A post-race protest was filed against the winning Daytona SportBike and it was determined in a review by AMA Pro Racing officials that Eslick passed for the lead in Turn 6 under a waving yellow flag. The area of the incident was also covered by a standing yellow flag at the corner workers' stations that Eslick failed to obey. He has been fined half of this weekend's final race purse and will be docked 10 championship points. Eslick currently leads the Daytona SportBike standings 296 - 288 over Cardenas.
Sunday's Daytona SportBike final goes off at 2 p.m. local time.
SuperSport Pole Day
A last-lap flyer gave Josh Day (No. 4 Kerker Racing Yamaha YZF-R6) the pole for Sunday's AMA Pro SuperSport presented by Shoei race and continued the East division championship leader's great weekend at Heartland Park. Day capitalized on a drying race track after light morning showers and clocked in at 1:48.536 (82.921 mph), nearly two seconds quicker than the competition on his seventh and final lap of the session.
The SuperSport pole followed Friday's strong performance by Day when he paced both SuperSport practices and won the pole for today's AMA Pro SunTrust Moto-GT race.
"It was pretty dry for the last lap out there," said Day, who took the East championship lead with his first SuperSport victory one race ago at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. "There were a few spots that were still pretty sketchy but other than that it really dried up a lot faster than what it was at the beginning of the session. It was a pretty good lap that we put in at the end there."
Day will share the four-rider front row with second-fastest qualifier Garrett Carter (No. 31 Ridersdiscount.com/Woodcraft Yamaha YZF-R6), Tomas Puerta (No. 12 LTD Racing Yamaha YZF-R6) and Dustin Dominguez (No. 44 House of Kawasaki/Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R).
"The track seemed to have pretty good grip," said Carter, who won the SuperSport race in the rain at Barber Motorsports Park in May. "It was pretty good out there, got pretty dry at the end and I am on the front row, so I am happy with that."
Dominguez won the SuperSport race at Auto Club Speedway and is one of the few riders entered in any division this weekend that has previous experience at Heartland Park Topeka. He was part of last year's class-winning AMA Pro SunTrust Moto-GT team with co-rider Ryan O'Donnell in the former ST (Sport Twins) class, finishing fourth overall.
"I think this is not a big horsepower track, and it's more tight, technical stuff," said Dominguez, who is from nearby Oklahoma. "This is closest to the home track for me so I want to really show it for my family and everybody that comes here."
Day is 13 points ahead of nearest challenger Leandro Mercado (No. 92 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R), 94 - 81. In a major boost for Day's East division title hopes, Mercado's team announced Saturday that he will miss this weekend's Tornado Nationals.
"We need to get as many points as we can," Day said. "I guess we won't be seeing him here this weekend, but he would have been part of a good battle with all of us."
Ricky Parker (No. 96 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6), the points leader in the West division will start 12th in tomorrow's race.
The SuperSport final is Sunday at 3 p.m. for 16 laps/40 miles.
SunTrust Moto-GT Repeats
Repeat race winners with a twist were victorious in Saturday morning's AMA Pro SunTrust Moto-GT race. Dane Westby and Dustin Meador (No. 13 Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R6) took the overall and GT1 class victory while Corey Rech and Huntley Nash (No. 77 Touring Sport Ducshop Ducati PS1000LE) scored the GT2 class win.
It was the second consecutive victory for both rider duos after each team first won at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago. The only difference at Topeka was that Rech and Nash stepped up to the championship-leading No. 77 Ducati "A" bike at Topeka after winning on the team's No. 38 Ducati at Mid-Ohio, but the headline story Saturday at Heartland Park was the top duo of Westby and Meador.
The teammates and the No. 13 Yamaha are now a perfect two for two after Westby Racing ran its very first race as a team at Mid-Ohio. Saturday Westby battled with pole sitter Josh Day (No. 27 Four Feathers Racing Yamaha YZF-R6) in the first half of the race before he and Meador eventually built up a nearly 90-second margin of victory at the finish. Mark Crozier and Dave Estock (No. 14 Crozier Motorsports Triumph Daytona 675) finished second and Rodolfo Ramirez and Santiago Villa (No. 69 HurtbyAccident.com Suzuki GSX-R600) were one lap down in third.
"It was great," said Westby who led the opening 20 laps of the race. "I thought maybe the gap would open up a little bit more at the beginning but Day actually came back and made a run for it. That was interesting but it was helpful when I guess they later crashed or something. Then we just had to hold our deal and Dustin and I finished it off."
The No. 77 Ducshop team continued to roll in GT2 as regular riders Frank Shockley and Ryan Elleby stepped aside in favor of their younger teammates. Nash and Rech were challenged by Jay Springsteen and Scott Ryan (No. 9 Pair-A-Nines Kawasaki EX650) but that team ultimately finished second, one lap behind the leaders. Kenny Rodriguez and Trey Yonce (No. 10 East Coast Powersports Suzuki SV650) finished third.
"The track is really fun, I like the fast sections and I feel great riding for Ducati," Nash said. "Ducati is a great company and I just want to have more opportunities with them. It is a great bike and a great team and we had a great win today. Thanks to the team and Frank for letting us ride again."
The No. 14 Crozier Motorsports team now leads the Moto-GT1 points championship over today's fourth-place finishing No. 41 Buell 1125R of Liberty Waves Racing, 109-104. In Moto-GT2, the No. 77 Touring Sport Ducati leads the No. 9 Pair-A-Nines team, 171-140.
Photos by Andrea Wilson