DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 6, 2009) – Yamaha’s Ben Bostrom won the inaugural nighttime running of the 68th Daytona 200 By Honda on Friday night at Daytona International Speedway.
Bostrom seized the lead for the final time from M4 Suzuki rider Jason DiSalvo through the tri-oval on Lap 53 of the 57-lap event that kicked off the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike season.
“I’ve tried to win this thing,” said Bostrom, who in four previous 200 starts had a best finish of second in 2003. “We’ve been on pole here. We’ve lost this race by two thousandths. I know what it’s like in the heart when you take second at Daytona. It hurts. Now I know what it’s like to win.”
Bostrom delivered Yamaha’s first Daytona 200 By Honda triumph since 1998 when Scott Russell claimed his fifth and final 200 victory. In addition, Bostrom became the first rider to win the Daytona 200 By Honda from the pole since Miguel Duhamel accomplished that feat in 2005.
Bostrom led from the start, lost the lead momentarily in the infield to Danny Eslick and the No. 9 Bruce Rossmeyer's Daytona Racing/RMR Buell 1125R on the opening lap, but then powered past Eslick to officially lead Lap 1. From there, Bostrom stayed in the lead pack for the entire race, frequently swapping the top spots with Eslick, Team Graves Yamaha teammates Josh Herrin (No. 8 Yamaha YZF-R6) and Josh Hayes (No. 4 Yamaha YZF-R6) and M4 Suzuki teammates DiSalvo and Martin Cardenas.
"The race was really intense and under the lights it was really spectacular," Bostrom said. "When we started out, there were several of us going tooth and nail at the front. I loved every minute of it."
Bostrom crossed the finish line .554 of a second ahead of Herrin while DiSalvo finished third on his No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600.
The race was slowed by two safety car periods, including the first on lap 36 due to a temporary lighting failure on the back straight. A red flag was shown a few laps later when the fourth Team Graves rider, Tommy Aquino (No. 6 Yamaha YZF-R6), went down after being hit from behind when the field jammed up while slowing behind the safety car. Aquino was examined and released from the infield medical center and the field was reformed for a single-file restart.
After a few warm-up laps, racing resumed only to see the safety car return a few laps later for the downed bike of Kris Turner (No. 3 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600). The race returned to green on Lap 49 for a dash to the finish with Bostrom, Hayes, Herrin and DiSalvo at the point. DiSalvo took the lead on Lap 52 as he battled with the three Graves Yamahas.
"The M4 Suzuki was running really strong up top out there," DiSalvo said. "I think if we could have been a little bit closer and had a little bit better preparation coming into the final lap we could have made a run. We could have got the double draft and I was sitting in third thinking this was going to work out, but it wasn't to be tonight."
After Bostrom took the lead for good, Hayes was in hot pursuit only to lose control of his Yamaha exiting the infield's east horseshoe section. Hayes was uninjured after the tumble but will have to wait another year for his next shot at what is becoming an elusive Daytona 200 victory. He led a race high 27 laps, Bostrom led 22 laps, Cardenas - who finished eighth - was in front for four laps and DiSalvo and Herrin each led a single lap.
"It was a really awesome race and really eventful and probably one of the most exciting races I have been in," Herrin said. "For being my first 200, actually for my first race over 20 laps, I think I did really good and I am really happy with it. We got a Yamaha one-two finish and that might be the first time that has been done in the 200."
Jamie Hacking (No. 88 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) and Shawn Higbee (No. 11 Higbee-Racing.com Buell 1125R) rounded out the top five to make it four different manufacturers represented in the top-five finishers.
AMA Pro SunTrust Moto-GT
The Wisconsin Racing Team of Jeff Purk and Calvin Martinez outlasted the rest of the field to take the checkered flag on the No. 20 Ducati 848 in AMA Pro Sun Trust Moto-GT event.
Purk and Martinez sealed their two-hour endurance race win with a late pit stop and a bit of help from then race leader, the No. 14 Crozier Motorsports Triumph Daytona 675 team of Mark Crozier and Phil Caudill, ran out of gas in the infield before the final lap.
“We were hoping to have to not come in for that last stop but I am glad we did,” Purk said. “That definitely gave us the win but I really didn’t know I was leading at the time.”
The Wisconsin Racing Team finished the Sun Trust Moto-GT with 58 completed laps and more than a 90-second margin of victory. The win also gives Martinez his 25th win at Daytona spread over multiple racing series including CCS, ASRA, and Formula USA.
“We knew coming down here that if we could get to victory lane one more time on this trip we would get it done,” Martinez said. “We did it today.”
J.P. Tache and local rider Paul Schwemmer riding the No. 37 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R for the Old Pros Racing team took second place while the No. 41 Liberty Waves Racing Buell 1125R team of Eric Haugo and Eric Pinson finished third.
Next up at the Speedway is Saturday’s Daytona Supercross By Honda. For tickets, go online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.