Photo: Ruthless Racing
Just about anybody placing bets on this year’s Daytona 200 is likely out some money after a surprise victory on the weekend.
Going into this year’s race, the favourite was probably two-time champion Danny Eslick, at least until he was suspended last week. Eslick’s legal troubles meant he couldn’t race, and he was denied the three-peat. Instead, the win went to Michael Barnes, a 47-year old veteran who won the race on his 13th entry.
Barnes and his Yamaha R6 won convincingly, leading 46 of 57 laps, laying down the fastest lap, and finishing with a 10-second cushion.
In case you wondered, Eslick pleaded guilty to a non-felony charge and should end with 12 months of probation, much to the frustration of the town’s police chief.
Canadian racers have often made the trip down to Florida for the 200, and this year Darren James returned once more. The CSBK racer finished tenth. James moved up 19 positions for that finish, but it is a slide from last year’s fifth place. The Ruthless Racing team had to do a last-minute motor swap to stay in the game, so James sounded very happy with the result anyway.
James’s post-race press release was full of congratulations for winner Barnes:
“One of my best friends and #RuthlessCrew team riders and JR MacRae Invitational racer, Michael “Barney” Barnes at the young age of 47 WON the 75th Annual Daytona 200. Barney didn’t only win…..he dominated. Taking first place by over 11 seconds. Barney has been one of my closest friends and a coach and mentor on the race track. I have been racing and learning from Barney for almost 14 years!! Today’s win could not have happened to a better person and tradesmen in our sport. Barney has raced all over the World on just about everything…..from 125’s to 500GP bikes to the Harley Davidson VR1000, the Britton and so on and so on. ”
Below Barnes, the podium was rounded out by Geoff May (second) and Wyatt Farris (third). Both also rode R6s. In fact, of the top 10, only ninth-place Ryan Jones wasn’t aboard the Yamaha — he rode a Kawasaki ZX-6. Further down the standings, other bikes appeared on the entry list, but this year was definitely dominated by Yamaha’s sport bike.