Daytona’s reputation for tight drafting finishes was maintained this past weekend, with the first four bikes in the 200 classic finishing within a 10th of a second, and several other races featuring similarly-close results.
The winner of the 200 was Joey Pascarella, at 19 the youngest winner of America’s biggest motorcycle race since Brad Andres, at 18, won on the beach course in 1955. Pascarella was on a Yamaha R6 prepped by the Project One Atlanta team from Georgia. This was Pascarella’s first race in the pro categories; only four years ago he was a Red Bull Cup rookie.
He defeated Jason DiSalvo on the Latus Racing Triumph by only 0.048 second, while Cameron Beaubier (Y.E.S. Graves Racing Yamaha) and Martin Cardenas (GEICO Suzuki) crossed the line in a virtual dead heat another 6/100 of a second back; Beaubier got the nod for third in the photo finish.
Pascarella led 41 of the 57 laps and was with the lead group at all times. He was perhaps lucky that DiSalvo had an extra pit stop early, worried about an odd noise in the Triumph 675; as it happened things were fine and DiSalvo pounded back from a 40-second deficit to so nearly take the win. The bike was painted in remembrance of AMA star Gary Nixon, who passed away last year.
Canadian Ben Young, of Thornbury, Ontario, was 20th out of the 46 finishers on a Yamaha R6.
In the two superbike races, Josh Hayes ran away and hid in Race 1, relatively speaking, taking his Monster Energy Graves Yamaha R1 to an 8+ second win over Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Young. Young’s Yoshimura team-mate Roger Lee Hayden took the last podium spot 16 seconds back. Young got revenge in the second go-around, however, as Hayes came up short by 0.002 seconds in his last-lap drafting attempt. Roger Lee Hayden was again third, this time 10 seconds back.
In the 600 Supersport races, fast California lady Elena Myers made history by becoming the first woman to win a race at the Speedway, clocking a win in the second contest with her SuzukiScoopFans on Facebook GSX-R600 after taking sixth in the first. She beat Corey Alexander (National Guard Suzuki) by 0.239 second, while Hayden Gillim (a cousin of the Hayden brothers) was 0.249 seconds back on his Red Bull FactoryRacing R6.
The Harley-Davidson XR1200 event proved another barn-burner, as Bartel’s Harley team-mates Tyler O’Hara and Michael Barnes played tag on the last lap, only to have Kyle Wyman draft past them both to take the win by 0.117 second. Canada’s Darren James of Vancouver was fifth on his Deeley-sponsored XR1200.
The second round of the U.S. championship series will be held April 22 at Road Atlanta near Braselton, Georgia.