For the first time since 1967 when the legendary Gary Nixon took victory, a Triumph has won the Daytona 200. Danny Eslick took his Riders Discount Racing Triumph 675 to a dominant victory after also collecting pole.
It wasn’t a walk-over, however; early on ( before the first set of pit stops) nine bikes were scrapping for the lead, and nearly to the second set four bikes were scrapping back and forth for the top place, three of them leading at various times.
However, shortly before the second set of pit stops, two of the four crashed out in Turn 1. Dane Westby’s Yamaha R6 stepped way out of shape – it looked like perhaps he’d gone down one two many gears – and pitched Westby hard into the ground in a nasty high-side. Jason DiSalvo on one of the Castrol Triumphs had nowhere to go to miss the incident and was also pitched off. The fourth rider, Jake Gagne, missed the incident but lost time, and that was all that Eslick needed to pull out a lead that he never relinquished.
Fortunately neither rider was seriously injured and both were able to walk away. “That was a lot of fun,” Eslick said of his first 200 victory. “That first stint to the first pit stop was pretty incredible. It was knock down, drag out like a sprint race. The last stint seemed like forever, but that was literally the shortest 200 miles of my life.”
This was the 73rd running of the Daytona 200 classic, and marked the last time that it will be run using the 600 cc class bikes, and also (probably) the last time all four turns of the massive stock car oval will be used. In 2015 the race will revert to superbikes, but they’ll continue to use the shorter infield course that cuts out the T-1 and T-2 banking for reasons of tire safety.
Kenny Riedmann, the young Canadian hotshoe from the Belfountain, Ont., area, finished an excellent 15th on another Castrol Triumph. His father Roland, an ex-GP racer of note himself, told CMG, “We had an excellent week and are pleased with this finish. The field this year was extremely strong!”
Four Triumphs made the top 10, which also comprised six Yamaha R6s and a lone Honda, piloted by former 200 winner Jake Zemke to eighth.
Fans of U.S. racing will be pleased to know that the AMA has reached an agreement with this website to live stream all the road and flat track events this season.