Daytona Sportbike: VIR Preview

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AMA Sportbike

As usual, the AMA Daytona Sportbike Championship is running extremely tight heading into Virginia International Raceway, only one point separating series’ leader Josh Herrin from the reigning champ Danny Eslick.

Herrin has been master of Team Graves Yamaha R6, winning four races and taking second twice. He managed sixth at the last round of AMA Racing in Laguna Seca, which gives him a total of 264 points.

Herrin took the win at VIR pretty easily last year, and will be seeking the same performance to extend his lead again at the Suzuki White Lightning AMA Pro Nationals Presented by Foremost Insurance Aug. 13-15.

Eslick only has two wins on his Geico Powersports Suzuki GSX-R 600, but has been on the podium four other times this season. He says especially likes the technical 2.25-mile VIR road course in Alton, Va.

Danny Eslick says: “It is like a couple of our tracks where you have to be aggressive to make passes and I like that type of race track. The track has a nice rhythm to it and that suits me just fine.”

Both leaders have to watch out for M4 Monster Energy Suzuki rider Marin Cardenas, who has the most race victories this season with six. Cardenas suffered two DNF’s that dragged him down in the points, but remains 12 points behind Herrin with 252.

Since the top three are running so tight, Team Latus Motors Ducati team rider Steve Rapp still has enough races remaining to take a shot at the title. He sits 37 points behind the Columbian Cardenas, and only 49 behind Herrin. Rapp hasn’t won yet this year, but was on the podium six times in 12 races.

The third Suzuki in the top five is Vesrah Suzuki rider Cory West, who separates dramatically from the top four in the championship with 178 points. He has 11 top-ten finishes, including a 2-3 finish at Road Atlanta, and fourth at Road America.

From an AMA Press Release:

Joining Rapp on another Ducati is Bobby Fong. Fong has really raised his game in the last few races and looked a sure winner at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca until an unfortunate fall dashed the hopes of Fong and his DNA Energy Drink Ducati team.

Fong took a pair of sixth place finishes at VIR last year and with his current form, he could be a major threat this year. Fong’s teammate, Michael Beck, took ninth at Laguna and the CNR Motorsports team is on the move and the direction is up.

A rider who has led the field from pole three times this year and is coming off of a strong run at Laguna Seca is Herrin’s Team Graves Yamaha teammate Tommy Aquino. Aquino can deliver a very quick lap and when he puts together a complete race, he will be in victory lane, his speed is evident and his natural ability is clear, keep your eye on the number six Yamaha, he will be near or at the front all weekend.

Last year’s AMA Pro SuperSport race winner will be back this year in the Daytona SportBike class, Josh Day, who took the pole position and won last year in dominant fashion will be riding the Toyota Lucas Oil Yamaha for the Four Feathers Racing team. One of the Wyman brothers, Kyle Wyman, will be riding double duty this weekend as he races his Harv’s Harley-Davidson RevisionMusic.com Yamaha in the Daytona SportBike class and also his Harv’s Harley-Davidson XR1200 in the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 class on Sunday.

The action begins on Friday, Aug. 13, with practice and first round qualifying. Saturday, Aug. 14, will see final qualifying and the first of two races in the three road racing classes and Sunday, Aug. 15, will have the second round of races and also the Vance & Hines XR1200 race.

AMA Daytona Sportbike Standings (after 7 of 10 rounds)
1. Josh Herrin, 264
2. Danny Eslick, 263
3. Martin Cardenas, 252
4. Steve Rapp, 215
5. Cory West, 178
6. Dane Westby, 157
7. Tommy Aquino, 156
8. Clinton Seller, 134
9. Chris Fillmore, 128
10. Bobby Fong, 123