- 30-Somethings Showcased With Defending champion Justin Brayton, Three-Time Champion Chad Reed
- Rising star Cooper Webb going for sixth 450 win of the year
The challenge is unique, the field is deep and the excitement is inevitable. Which means things are pretty much high-caliber status quo as the DAYTONA Supercross comes to Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night.
Riders in the AMA Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM World Championship, return to DIS for Round 10 of the 2019 season and for the 12th consecutive year, they will race on a course designed by five-time DAYTONA Supercross champion Ricky Carmichael. This year’s layout appears even tougher than usual while retaining the outdoor motocross-type appeal that distinguishes it on the Supercross schedule, where many of the courses are somewhat shorter and constructed inside traditional sports stadiums.
“You’re just never sure how it will turn out in race situations,” Carmichael said, “but I’m excited to see what happens. When I’m scheming up things [prior to course construction], you look at what worked in the past, what is challenging but most importantly, what is safe, so there’s a balance. Hey, it’s DAYTONA Supercross so there are a lot of fun things we can do.”
Several of the 450cc class riders who are serious contenders to visit Gatorade Victory Lane were at the track Friday for the event’s annual media day, including defending champion Justin Brayton. He became the oldest DAYTONA Supercross champion last year – and the oldest rider in AMA history to win a 450cc event – at the age of 33, only four days before his 34th birthday.
“There’s just something about the name ‘Daytona’ – Right? – with all the motorsports that are here,” said Brayton, who rides the No. 10 SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/Motoconcepts Honda. “Ask any NASCAR guy which race they would pick to win and they’d pick the DAYTONA 500. Ask any Supercross guy which race they would most want to win if they could win only one race, most would pick the DAYTONA Supercross because of the prestige.”
Brayton isn’t the only “elder statesman” in a contending role. Another is Chad Reed, 36, the DAYTONA Supercross champion in 2004, 05 and ’09.
“We’re the oldest ones,” Brayton said. “I’ll be 35 next week and Chad will be 37. But hey, I won the toughest race of the year last year at the age of 33. So, until the young guys really start putting it to us, we’ll be here.”
Reed (No. 22 JGRMX/Yosimura/Suzuki) is trying to break Brayton’s year-old record and become the oldest Supercross winner. He’s also trying to give Joe Gibbs Racing its second major DIS title of the year; Denny Hamlin won the DAYTONA 500 last month for JGR. Reed has other history to think about, as well. A victory Saturday would make him the third four-time DAYTONA Supercross champion, joining Jeff Stanton and Ryan Villopoto on that short list. Reed is currently one of four three-time champions alongside Bob “Hurricane” Hannah, Mike Kiedrowski and Jeremy McGrath.
“I think we can [win again],” Reed said. “It’s one of my favorite races for sure. It’s just … gnarly. Everything about it, I love. There’s nothing like Daytona.”
When assessing potential champions for this year, however, it might be wise to start with the Supercross series’ current point lead Cooper Webb (No. 2 Red Bull KTM). Webb has won of nine races thus far this season and finished third at Daytona last year.
“The first half of the season is complete and I’m ecstatic about what I’ve accomplished,” Webb said. “We’re getting better every weekend; I feel like I’m in a good spot but I could be better. Now we’re at Daytona and it’s different but I had a good race here last year.”
Action will continue after Saturday night with the Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross on Sunday and Monday, followed by ATV Supercross on Tuesday.
Tickets for DAYTONA Supercross, the 78th DAYTONA 200, other Bike Week at DAYTONA and all speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay up to speed on the latest news by using #BikeWeek, #DAYTONASX, #DAYTONATT and #DAYTONA200. Stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.