Triumph rider Danny Eslick captured the pole on Friday afternoon for Saturday’s 73rd Daytona 200 AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race at Daytona International Speedway.
During the timed qualifying session, Eslick, riding the No. 69 Triumph Daytona 675, lapped the 3.51-mile road course in one minute, 49.292 seconds to secure the pole for the historic 57-lap, 200-mile race.
It’s the first time since 1971 that a Triumph has sat on the pole in the Daytona 200 and it’s the second career Daytona 200 pole for Eslick, a native of Broken Arrow, OK.
“My pole lap was amazing,” Eslick said. “I got a good clean run through the infield. It’s all about the draft here at Daytona and I caught the draft just perfect out of the chicane and around to the start/finish line and nailed it.”
After Thursday’s practice sessions, Eslick felt like he had a good opportunity to earn the Daytona 200 pole and the coveted Rolex watch that comes with it.
“I knew I had a shot at winning it when I had the fastest trap speed from the first practice yesterday,” Eslick said. “For me, I’ve never been the one to have the fastest bike or the fastest trap speed.”
As Eslick chases his first Daytona 200 victory, his strategy for Saturday’s grueling 57-lap, 200-mile race is simple.
“Try not to fall down and lead the last lap,” Eslick said.
Rounding out the front row for the Daytona 200 are Yamaha riders Garrett Gerloff and Jake Lewis and Triumph’s Jason DiSalvo.
Gerloff, who turned a time of 1:50.065 seconds, said following the qualifying session that he left some speed on the track.
“I don’t think that was the fastest I could go this weekend,” Gerloff said. “I’m disappointed I didn’t get the pole position but I’m not concerned about the race.”
AMA SuperBike Round 1
The opening round of the AMA Pro SuperBike race came down to a three-bike battle with Graves Yamaha riders Josh Hayes and Cameron Beaubier and Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden.
On Lap 14, Beaubier, who won last year’s Daytona 200, entered Turn 1 aboard his No. 2 Yamaha too hot and ran wide leaving Hayes and Hayden to settle the victory.
Hayden attempted to draft Hayes coming to the checkered flag but Hayes used side drafting to win by .025 seconds.
The victory was Hayes’ second Daytona SuperBike triumph.
“It was a really fun race, a very nerve-wracking race,” Hayes said. “It’s hard to see plus 1 on your board for a few laps and watch that dwindle away to a zero. Then you just see if you can keep yourself up at the front.
“All-in-all I’m extremely happy. At the end of the day it’s not just about being fast, I’ve got to win races. I’m glad I was able to pull this one off.”
SuperBike Race 2 is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m.
SuperSport, Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series
Celtic/Hvmc Racing finished 1-2 in the 10-lap SuperSport race. Pole winner Corey Alexander, riding the No. 5 Suzuki, led nine laps on his way to a 7.923-second victory.
“Getting away and breaking the draft is the biggest part of the race,” Alexander said. “That is all I really wanted to accomplish . . . just maintaining that gap so they can’t really draft you back. I’m obviously really happy for whole team. Having Wyatt (Farris) up here is a great showing for us in showing that we’re here for a good year.”
Teammate Wyatt Farris finished second and Dustin Dominguez on a Yamaha was third.
SuperSport Race 2 is set for Saturday at 10 a.m.
In the seven-lap Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series, Kyle Wyman survived a furious finish to win by .068 seconds.
The Daytona victory was Wyman’s third in the past four years.
“This is the third win for me and I just love this place,” Wyman said. “It’s the reason I love coming here and spending all winter thinking about Daytona. I couldn’t imagine going to the first race to a track that I don’t like because it would make the winter even more miserable. I get to look forward to Daytona. I’m just so happy to be up here. It was a long year last year and I feel like we’re off on the right foot.”
Tyler OHara, who nipped Wyman for the victory in last year’s race, finished second this year followed by Gage McAllister.
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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