Brandon Paasch, at only 19 years old, used an old, veteran move common to Daytona International Speedway winners to capture Saturday’s 79th DAYTONA 200 in breathtaking fashion.
After running second for most of the last portion of the race, Paasch, utilizing the draft, reeled in leader Sean Dylan Kelly and calculated a perfect slingshot move at the entrance of the tri-oval as the duo came to the checkered flag, winning by just .031 of a second. Paasch took home the traditional Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watch and the title at America’s most historic motorcycle road race during the 80th Annual Bike Week.
“I have been dreaming about that pass since 2019,” said Paasch, who finished fifth that year in the DAYTONA 200. “For me to see it coming to fruition, it is kinda crazy. Somehow we pulled it off. I just kept digging and my hope was to run him down. It was kinda surreal for me at the end to cross the line first. It just doesn’t feel real right now. I am at a loss for words.”
Battling an ankle injury and off his bike for at least two weeks, Paasch (R6 600 Yamaha) edged Dylan Kelly (GSXR 600 Suzuki) and Tyler O’Hara (ZX6R 636 Kawasaki) in the 54-rider field that put on a show with plenty of side-by-side racing and at times riders running three- and four-wide. Paasch posted the best lap (1:49.752) and best speed (115.132).
Paasch was riding with a purpose this weekend. He pledged half of his winnings to rider Lloyd Bayley’s Family. Bayley, from DeLand, Fla., died tragically during an ASRA sanctioned motorcycle race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in late 2020. Bayley was known as “Ironman” in ASRA and served as a mentor to Paasch early in his racing career.
Dylan Kelly who finished runnerup in the last DAYTONA 200 held in 2019, was dominant, leading the most laps but came up just feet short at the finish.
“The 200 is never easy and this one definitely hurt the most,” said Dylan Kelly, who was just .213 seconds short in ’19 to winner Kyle Wyman. “Getting passed today right at the finish line after 200 miles is something tough. It’s hard for it to sink in, but at the end of the day we did our best, we did everything we could. We led a lot of laps today. Hopefully I will get another opportunity to run the 200 and we’re going to fight for that Rolex.”
Sanctioned by the American SportBike Racing Association (ASRA), the DAYTONA 200 showcased 600cc sportbikes on the Speedway’s 3.51-mile DAYTONA Road Course in a 57-lap, 200-mile endurance race. Its roots go back to the sands of Daytona Beach where they began racing on a 4.2-mile shoreline course in 1937 before moving the event to Daytona International Speedway and incorporating the high banks of the World Center of Racing in 1961.
Wyman’s quest for consecutive wins ended early while he was running in the top three but lost control on lap 18. His front wheel touched the rear wheel of the lap rider between turns two and three.
Fourth went to Michael Barnes while four-time champion Danny Eslick finished fifth as he attempted to become the third five-time champion of the DAYTONA 200.
The DAYTONA 200 was the final major race of the 80th Annual Bike Week At DAYTONA. On Sunday, ASRA and Championship Cup Series races will be held rounding out the final competition at the speedway.
Daytona International Speedway’s next scheduled major motorsports weekend is a NASCAR doubleheader Aug. 27-28, featuring the Coke Zero Sugar 400 and the Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola. The Coke Zero Sugar 400, Aug. 28, returns as the Regular Season Finale for the NASCAR Cup Series, and will be held under the lights on the famed high banks. With only 16 Playoff spots up for grabs, anything could happen as the stage is set for NASCAR to crown a Champion.
Tickets for the Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, the Coke Zero Sugar 400 and other speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway and see the latest speedway news on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
About Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway is a state-of-the-art motorsports facility and was awarded the SportsBusiness Journal’s prestigious Sports Business Award for Sports Facility of the Year in 2016. Daytona International Speedway is the home of The Great American Race – the DAYTONA 500. Though the season-opening NASCAR Cup Series event garners most of the attention – as well as the largest audience in motorsports – the approximately 500-acre motorsports complex, also known as the World Center of Racing, boasts the most diverse schedule of racing on the globe. In addition to at least nine major event weekends, the Speedway grounds are also used extensively for events that include concerts, civic and social gatherings, car shows, photo shoots, production vehicle testing and police motorcycle training.