DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Graves Yamaha rider Cameron Beaubier captured the pole and the coveted Rolex watch on Friday afternoon for Saturday’s 72nd Daytona 200 AMA Pro GoPro Daytona Sportbike race at Daytona International Speedway.
Beaubier, riding the No. 6 Yamaha YZF-R6, toured the 3.51-mile road course in one minute, 49.612 seconds to secure the pole for America’s most historic motorcycle race.
“I felt like I got a pretty good lap in,” Beaubier said. “I got held up just a little bit going through the chicane. That was the only mistake I had. I felt pretty good through the infield and I got a good draft towards the finish.”
The 40-minute session was shortened by about eight minutes due to a red flag for oil on the track. While Beaubier was pleased with the qualifying lap, he felt he might have been able to go even faster if the session wasn’t cut short.
“I wanted to get a flier in at the end but I’m really happy with my lap,” said Beaubier, who finished third in last year’s Daytona 200.
Rounding out the front row is Beaubier’s Graves Yamaha teammate Garrett Gerloff (1:51.101 seconds), Bobby Fong on a Richie Morris Racing Yamaha (1:51.332) and 2006 Daytona 200 champion Jake Zemke (1:51.599), who expects the difference maker in the grueling 57-lap, 200-mile race to be pit stops.
“This race, it’s a long race but it’s definitely won and lost in the pits,” said Zemke, who rides a Ducati. “Everybody’s going to be doing their best to make sure we can keep Cameron in check for a little while. He’s been setting the pace all weekend. He’s been going really good. He’s definitely setting the benchmark that everybody is going to be chasing.”
National Guard SuperBike Race 1: Graves Yamaha rider Josh Herrin kicked off the 2013 AMA National Guard SuperBike campaign by holding off Yoshimura Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas to earn his first Daytona SuperBike victory.
On the last lap, Herrin was able to pull away aboard his Yamaha R1 from Cardenas’ Suzuki GSX-R1000 exiting the chicane toward the start/finish line to win the 15-lap opening round by .135 seconds. Cardenas settled for second with Larry Pegram coming home in third on a Yamaha.
Three-time defending AMA National Guard SuperBike champion Josh Hayes opened his title defense with a disappointing 17th-place finish. Hayes took the whole shot and lead early but developed clutch issues on Lap 6 and dropped out of the race.
“I just feel bad for the boys here,” Hayes said. “I’m sure they are going to go back to the drawing board and make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Another top contender, Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden, crashed early in the race.
“I don’t want to beat up on myself but it almost feels like it’s not a win because Josh (Hayes) was out, Roger (Hayden) was out, Danny (Eslick) crashed. It’s still a win and the bike was working good and (the crew) has been putting in a lot of hours. I can’t thank them enough.”
The second round of the AMA National Guard SuperBike is set for Saturday at 11 a.m.
Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series/Motorcycle Superstore.com SuperSport: In the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, the finish of the seven-lap season-opening event came down to an 11-bike draft with No. 29 Harley-Davidson of Tyler O’Hara coming out on top by a margin of .75 seconds.
“It’s all about putting yourself in the right place at the right time,” O’Hara said. “It feels really good to come out of here with a win.”
“You could have thrown a tissue over all of us,” said runner-up Kyle Wyman, who was shooting for a third straight Daytona win in the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson event at Daytona.
Six riders decided the 10-lap Motorcycle Superstore.com SuperSport event, Stefano Mesa riding aboard the No. 37 Yamaha passed David Sadowski Jr. exiting the chicane and held on for a .26 seconds margin of victory.
For more information and tickets for the remaining Daytona 200 Week events, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.
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