2011 Daytona 200
For 25 laps around historic Daytona International Speedway Saturday afternoon, GEICO Sportbike rider Danny Eslick looked like the man to beat at the season-opening AMA Daytona 200. But then disaster struck, with Eslick coming off his powerful Richie Morris Racing Suzuki at 160 mph as he rode through Turn 4 of the NASCAR track.
The cause of the accident was quickly determined to be the Dunlop tire on the front of his bike, and the problem was so widespread that the race was stopped two circuits later as other riders began reporting the same issue.
Officials from the AMA huddled with Dunlop representatives for two and a half hours before reaching the decision to shorten the race to just 15 more laps. Already two laps down with the potential to gain only a minimal amount of points, Eslick smartly retired from the event.
During the Daytona 200 wreck, Eslick suffered minor road rash but was otherwise unhurt.
Danny Eslick (GEICO RWR Suzuki GSX-R600) says: "I’d have to get around 16 riders to gain back one point and we just don’t think the risk is worth the reward. Plus, they’re still not entirely sure what’s up with the tires.
"I sensed a problem with the front tire right before the first pit stop (on Lap 19) and then obviously we had a big issue there when I wrecked. It’s a shame because you want to start the season strong for GEICO and all our other sponsors but this was out of my hands for the most part."
Eslick, a 24-year-old from Broken Arrow, Okla., started quick and remained in a foursome of riders that led the race up until the first pit stop. He had even found a favorable outside line on the front stretch of the tri-oval where he routinely passed his opponents to assume the lead seemingly at will.
Danny Eslick says: "That’s kind of my spot here. I take the draft and just come around the outside. I guess you could say that’s how I roll at Dyatona."
After his pit stop, Eslick cycled back into the No. 4 spot with the three riders ahead of him all needing fresh rubber, almost assuring him of re-taking the lead he held at several points in the race. But then he went down, and his day was effectively over.
Danny Eslick says: "I felt great on the bike. I liked the way I was riding and the competition up front was pushing us all to ride smart and fast. It was a great race. Hopefully, they’ll get everything fixed and we’ll be able to provide a better show for the fans in Sonoma."
The AMA Daytona Sportbike circuit returns to action May 13-15 at Infineon Raceway in California’s picturesque wine country.