AMA Sportbikes ignite the Daytona 200

Daytona 200 Race Recap

After losing out on the Daytona 200 victory in 2009, No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6 rider Josh Herrin secured his name in the history books by becoming the 69th winner of the Daytona Beach classic. Held for the second year in a row under the lights, Herrin battled a number of riders before pulling away after a super quick pit stop on lap 39. After that, he rode with tremendous composure and skill to take the checkered flag with a 7.964 second margin of victory on the historic 3.55 mile Daytona International Speedway.

Dane Westby and his No. 2 Project 1 Yamaha YZF-R6 took a well deserved second place and up until the last pit stop, it was a two man race. Westby showed his skill by running up front all night, trading the lead with Herrin several times over the course of the 57 lap race. Finishing third was 2007 Daytona 200 winner Steve Rapp on his No. 15 Team Latus Motors Racing Ducati 848. Rapp also ran up front all night and was one of five riders to lead during the race.

Leading the field off the line was pole winner Danny Eslick on the No. 1 GEICO Powersports RMR Suzuki GSX-R600 and as the field took the green flag from the standing start, fellow front row rider Martin Cardenas, riding the No. 36 Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki GSX-R600, shot into the lead and led the field through turns one and two. In a heartbreaking moment, Cardenas had the front end slide out on him going into turn three and down he went, his race over. It was a devastating moment for what was clearly a big pre-race favorite.

Further back in the lineup, a number of riders came together in the next turn, necessitating a red flag and immediate race stoppage and full restart from the original grid.

One rider, P.J. Jacobson, was transported from the scene to Halifax Hospital but was later released. Four other riders were examined at the infield care center and released and one rider, Bostjan Skubic, later complained of dizziness, was taken to Halifax for precautionary evaluation and was later released.

After a brief delay, the race was restarted and this time the field had three riders go off in turn one but with no impact on the race. A tight group of 10 riders were drafting and swapping positions, with many changes every lap. Rapp, Herrin, Eslick, Team Graves Yamaha teammate Tommy Aquino, Kev Coghlan riding the Aussie Dave Racing Yamaha, Westby and more were all part of the action.

Another front-runner was Brett McCormick on his No. 61 Picotte Racing Suzuki GSX-R600. He was slowed early by an excursion though the chicane but regained his momentum and began another race at the back of the lead group, fighting with Cory West aboard the No. 57 Vesrah Suzuki GSX-R600, Bobby Fong on the No. 30 Crozier Robinson Motorsports Ducati 848 and Jeff Wood on the No. 75 Vesrah Suzuki.

The leaders were lapping in the one minute and fifty second range, which was just off the fastest qualifying times. Meanwhile, making strong but steady progress up from her 22nd starting position was Melissa Paris aboard the No. 13 MPH Racing Yamaha YZF-R6.

The first round of pit stops began on lap 17 and Aquino suffered a malfunction with his fueling apparatus, which caused fuel to spill all over the bike and led to his retirement from the race. Herrin stopped one lap later and had a flawless stop. Eslick also had a good stop and the lead was now held by Coghlan, ahead of Eslick, Westby, Herrin, Rapp, and Taylor Knapp riding the Ducshop Racing Ducati 848.

Coghlan then stopped on lap 21 and Herrin and Westby regained the lead battle with Rapp and the rest. As things settled down, a three bike breakaway with Westby, Herrin and Eslick kept the pressure on each other, each pulling the occasional wheelie out of the chicane lap after lap. By lap 25 it really became a two bike race, Herrin and Westby really now extending their lead over the field.

Melissa Paris continued her strong run, now up to 13th. Brett McCormick’s promising run came to an end as he was involved in a multi-bike accident in the International Horseshoe on lap 32.

By lap 34 there were seven riders on the lead lap, the second round of pit stops began and the race to the checkers was on. Herrin and Westby came down pit lane side by side on lap 39 and each wouldn’t give an inch until they stopped in their respective pit boxes.

The Team Graves Yamaha team really excelled and sent Herrin off before Westby, giving Herrin the gap he needed to break away. Westby rode as hard as could, but the gap to Herrin slowly grew as the race wound down.

In another moment of heartbreak, Melissa Paris’ excellent race came to a premature end when she lost front wheel traction while running in 11th place entering the chicane on lap 49. She had run as high as 10th place and was also treated and released from Halifax Hospital.

Later commenting that he was in nearly perfect rhythm, Herrin put his name in the record books as the second youngest winner of the Daytona 200 and the youngest at the races held at the Daytona International Speedway. At 19 years and 10 months, he is only preceded by Brad Andres who, when winning the 200 in 1955, was 18 years and 11 months old.

Eslick survived a late race coming together with a slower competitor to finish fourth, Coghlan took fifth, West was sixth, Geoff May riding his No. 99 GMR Racing Suzuki GSX-R600 finished seventh, Shawn Higbee finished eighth on his Buell followed by the tenacious Taylor Knapp and Eric Wood rounded out the top ten on his Honda CBR600RR.

2010 Daytona 200 Race Results (AMA Daytona Sportbike Class)

1. J. Herrin 0.0000 Team Graves Yamaha
2. D. Westby 7.964 Project 1
3. S. Rapp 24.496 Team Latus Motors Racing
4. D. Eslick
40.973 GEICO Powersports, RMR, Suzuki
5. K. Coghlan 1 lap Aussie Dave
6. C. West 39.919 Vesrah Suzuki
7. G. May 1:50.590 GMR
8. S. Higbee 1:54.030
9. T. Knapp 2 laps
Ducshop Racing
10. E. Wood 15.626 Team Heyser

AMA Pro Road Racing will be at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California from March 26 – 28 for round two of the 10 event schedule.