Geoff May is 34 years old, amid a professional motorcycle racing career that, he says, has “gone up and down.”
Friday was up.
May, riding the No. 99 Yamaha, captured the pole position for Saturday’s 74th annual Daytona 200 American SportBike Racing Association (ASRA) race at Daytona International Speedway by a scant .005 seconds over No. 2 Meen Motorsports Yamaha rider Josh Herrin on the 3.51-mile road course. When Friday’s two qualifying sessions were complete, May’s best lap was 1 minute, 50.636 seconds compared to Herrin’s 1:50.641. Rounding out the top four are Stefano Mesa (No. 11 Yamaha) and defending Daytona 200 champion Danny Eslick (No. 69 Suzuki).
May posted his fast lap late in the second session. “I knew it was a good lap,” he said. “When I saw my number go to the top of the boards, I was happy. I knew I had [the pole]; with the amount of time left [in the session] nobody was going to best that. I’m over the moon.”
May, from Gainesville, Georgia, is out to prove a point this week. And he’s doing it the hard way, as in bare-bones, budget-wise. Much of May’s effort has been funded by fans, via an on-line campaign he initiated.
“We don’t even have a trailer,” he said. “We stuffed as much in a van as we could and rolled down to Daytona to give it our best shot. This reminds me of my privateer days. But I’ve done it before. That’s how I earned my way into the AMA paddock.
“This is my 16th year coming to Daytona. Overnight I’ve become a veteran. I’m out of a job racing right now; I wanted to come down to Daytona to remind people I’m still a top rider and I do deserve a job … I feel like I do have a place, I feel like I’m at the peak of my ability, fitness and knowledge. I’m not ready to quit. I came down here to put a stamp on things.”
Eslick, from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, started on the pole last year en route to winning the Daytona 200. His strategy is simple and based on last year, a recipe for success.
“Be there at the end,” Eslick said. “It’s a long race. You have to stay out of a first-turn pileup [early] when everybody’s antsy and trying to be a hero. Hopefully just hang tight and be there at the end.”
The 57-lap/200-mile Daytona 200 is set for 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday. For more information and tickets, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.