Danny Eslick won the 74th DAYTONA 200 for the second-straight year on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway, outdueling 2010 champion Josh Herrin with a dramatic last-lap pass coming off the 57-lap/200-mile American SportBike Racing Association event’s final turn.
It was the 12th time in the race’s history that a rider has won the DAYTONA 200 in consecutive years; the most recent repeat had been Mat Mladin in 2000-01.
Eslick pitted for fuel on Lap 54 while leading, but retained the lead coming out of the pits. Herrin then closed in quickly and when the final lap began, his No. 2 Yamaha was within a second of Eslick’s No. 69 Suzuki. In the high-banked Turns 1 and 2, Herrin grabbed apparent control. When the riders emerged from the 3.51-mile road course’s chicane – having both dealt with the untimely obstacle of a slower, lapped bike – and began climbing onto the speedway’s Turns 3 and 4, he had a seemingly secure advantage.
It was a mirage.
Eslick tucked in and drafted off Herrin’s bike, then nudged by him on the outside coming out of the famed “NASCAR 4.” He held on to edge Herrin by .086 seconds.
“It was a textbook draft-pass at Daytona,” said Eslick, from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. “Those last couple laps were pretty crazy. I thought I was all by myself. I was able to set him up [at the end].”
Added Dublin, Georgia’s Herrin: “I thought I was going to be able to hold him off.”
Geoff May, a long-shot veteran rider from Gainesville, Georgia, started a Yamaha from the pole and ran up front for much of the afternoon, eventually finishing third.
The DAYTONA as its own, tradition-rich legacy that has run parallel to the DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway. The event is America’s most historic motorcycle race, dating to 1937 when Ed Kretz Sr. rode an Indian motorcycle to victory on a 4.2-mile shoreline course that utilized both the beach and State Road A1A in Daytona Beach; the race moved to the speedway in 1961, two years after the facility opened. Saturday’s running featured four former champions: Eslick, Herrin, Steve Rapp and John Ashmead.
In addition to Eslick, here are the other DAYTONA 200 repeat championship efforts: Ben Campanale (1938-39); Dick Klamfoth (1951-52); Joe Leonard (1957-58); Brad Andres (1959-60); Roger Reiman (1964-65); Cal Rayborn (1968-69); Dick Mann (1971-72); Kenny Roberts (1983-84), Scott Russell (1994-95 and ’97-98) and Mladin.Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for the latest news all season long. Fans can also follow the latest on DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation at the “World Center of Racing” by using #DAYTONARising on Twitter or visiting www.daytonarising.com.