After putting his name firmly into the history books with his dramatic Daytona 200 win, AMA Pro Racing Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL points leader Josh Herrin and his No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha head into the second race of the season at California’s Auto Club Speedway looking to take advantage of his early season momentum.
The Suzuki AMA Pro SuperBike Challenge weekend at the 21-turn, 2.36-mile combination speedway/road course configuration at Auto Club Speedway will give Herrin and his competitors’ two chances to fight their way back into the season long point’s battle.
Practice and qualifying begin on Friday, March 26th with more qualifying on Saturday, March 27th and the first of two AMA Pro Daytona SportBike races starting at 4:30 PM local time.
The second 17-lap Daytona SportBike race will be on Sunday, March 28th at 1:00 PM and will open with Rider Introductions and a Fan Grid Walk. All three AMA Pro Road Racing categories will be competing during the Suzuki AMA Pro SuperBike Challenge weekend, including doubleheaders for AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike and AMA Pro SuperSport.
The rider most anxious to get back to work this weekend is No. 36 M4 Monster Energy Suzuki rider Martin Cardenas. He started second on the grid at Daytona and held the lead after the first turn but had an unfortunate fall on the first lap, ending his race before it really had begun.
Another rider who hoped for better things at Daytona was Daytona SportBike Championship defender and No. 1 GEICO Powersports Suzuki rider Danny Eslick. He started from pole position but had slow starts on both the original start and red flag restart. Eslick fought back to an impressive fourth place at the end of a long night in Daytona but showed he is more than ready to defend his Daytona SportBike championship crown.
No one can take anything away from what was an historic Daytona 200 victory for Herrin and his Team Graves Yamaha. His victory underscored that this sport is also about teamwork, as his Team Graves Yamaha Team gave him a lead he would not surrender at the second and final pit stop. He and eventual second-place finisher Dane Westby came down pit lane side by side and it was only the excellent pit work that got Herrin out with enough of a lead so that Westby and his Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha couldn’t reel Herrin back in.
Veteran Steve Rapp put up an excellent performance, showing his patience and experience in taking his Team Latus Motors Racing Ducati to a fine third place in the race and also the points standings heading into the Fontana, CA Auto Club Speedway event.
The true form for the season has yet to emerge thanks to the unique nature of the season-opening event. This weekend should give real indication of who the riders to beat are and, including the above named riders, there are a number of people to watch as the season begins to take shape.
Herrin’s teammate Tommy Aquino is one to watch, he ran up front for a good part of the Daytona 200 when he suffered an unfortunate refueling problem, ending his race after 17 laps.
Cory West ran well at Daytona for the Vesrah Suzuki team, as did Shawn Higbee on his Higbee-Racing.com Buell.
2009 AMA Pro SuperSport East Champion Josh Day on his Four Feathers Racing Yamaha will feature this weekend along with Westby’s teammate, Clinton Seller riding the second Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha. Ducati fans will be cheering for Bobby Fong and teammate Mark Crozier on their DNA Energy Drink CNR Motorsports Ducatis.
Another strong rider is Santiago Villa on the Roadracingworld.com Suzuki. Tyler Odom will be riding for local California Honda team owner Kevin Erion and P.J. Jacobson is back from his difficult start at Daytona, riding a Celtic Racing Suzuki.
AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL provides some of the best racing of the weekend. Practice and qualifying begin Friday, March 26th and the doubleheader race weekend features 17-lap races both Saturday, March 27th and Sunday, March 28th at the beautiful Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Another fun aspect of the weekend will be "Lefty’s Family Fun Day and 5K" event taking place on Saturday, March 27th. Starting at 7:00 AM, everyone participating in the non-competitive 5K walk, run, ride and roll around the 2.36-mile motorcycle road course will be admitted free to the Suzuki AMA Pro SuperBike Challenge that same day, which includes an action packed day of qualifying and races in all three categories of AMA Pro Road Racing.
Please visit www.autoclubspeedway.com for more info and ticket information.