Eslick & Herrin Daytona SportBike Duel

Fontana Race 2

Once again, AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL provided one amazing afternoon of action-packed racing on the final day of the Suzuki SuperBike Challenge at Auto Club Speedway.

The talented group of riders showcased just how close and competitive the class is, with the field being led off the line again by Danny Eslick and his No. 1 GEICO Powersports Suzuki under sunny skies and calm condition.

Saturday race winner Martin Cardenas on his No. 36 M4 Monster Energy Suzuki, Josh Herrin aboard his No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha, Dane Westby riding his No. 2 Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha all were back up front, but today there were new names to add to the hustling pack at the front.

Steve Rapp riding a fast No. 15 Team Latus Motors Racing Ducati and Bobby Fong with his No. 30 DNA Energy Drink CNR Motorsports Ducati were in the mix. Herrin’s No. 6 Team Graves Yamaha teammate, Tommy Aquino and Cory West also were part of the seven- to eight-bike freight train at the front of the field, West was riding his No. 57 Vesrah Suzuki once again.

Eslick led a fighting pack of riders that ran inches apart as they all scrapped for any open real estate on the busy but testing 21-turn, 2.36-mile Auto Club Speedway infield road course.

Herrin, Aquino, Rapp, Cardenas, West and Clinton Seller on the No. 4 Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha battled behind the leaders and it was Cardenas who once again fought his way up to the front. He rose as high as third and it looked like a three way battle for the win until a slight gap opened up between the battling Eslick and Herrin.

Lap after lap, Herrin would just get Eslick at the start-finish line, only to have the order swap as the duo dove into turn one. At one point early on, the first seven were covered by around 1.9 seconds as the race ebbed and flowed.

As Aquino dropped back, Rapp continued his good form and had a pretty good tussle with Cardenas, who looked like he was going to pull off another win today as he began to work his way back up to the front.

Rapp then fell back at one point but didn’t take long to inch his way back to the front group to make it four riders with a real shot at victory. They were all going to have to beat an inspired Eslick, who rode his Suzuki like every lap was a qualifier. Herrin was giving no quarter as well as he continued to try Eslick on every time they both ran up onto the front banking of the speedway section.

The first big change came when the unfortunate Martin Cardenas fell as he entered the front banking on lap 13, allowing Rapp to get up to third. Cardenas rejoined to finish tenth.

Meanwhile, there was another battle going on between Aquino, West and Fong. They also swapped positions lap after lap with the rapidly improving Fong taking fifth ahead of Aquino and West. West’s Vesrah Suzuki teammate Chris Fillmore took eighth ahead of Seller, who finished about eight seconds in front of the disappointed Cardenas.

Back up front it was down to Eslick, Herrin and Rapp. Going into the last lap, Eslick had his motorcycle every way but straight as he did everything to hold off Herrin, but it wasn’t to be and as Eslick led back onto the front straight banking on the final lap, Herrin calmly pulled out of the slipstream and passed him at the line to take the second win of the young season.

1st – Josh Herrin

"I think I was trying to lead the most laps of the race without actually leading, I was talking to (SPEED TV announcer) Greg White last night and I guess I’m a better race finisher and I just seem to save myself a little for the end. This win is nice, usually I have a lot of friends here and I never run well so it’s nice."

2nd – Danny Eslick

"Every lap out there was like a qualifying lap, I was riding as hard as I could. It was great racing with Josh."

3rd – Steve Rapp

"We are a small team and the guys work really hard so this is great for Team Latus Racing.

Check your local listings for SPEED’s coverage of this weekend’s Suzuki SuperBike Challenge at Auto Club Speedway. After a wild, windy and exciting weekend of racing in California, the AMA Pro Road Racing Series heads to Road Atlanta, April 16-18 for the next round of the 2010 season.

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One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007 and is currently Editor at Large at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of 365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).