Mike Rush continued in the fine tradition of surprise winners at the Daytona Short Track National on Thursday night. Rush, a 19-year-old who is in only his second season as a pro, took the lead on the first lap aboard his Dave Burks Motorsports Suzuki and pulled away to a dominating 7.296-second margin of victory over Bettencourt’s Honda rider Ken Coolbeth.
Defending champ Jake Johnson finished third.
The victory for Rush, combined with his runner-up finish in Wednesday’s season opener, means that the youngster from Gilroy, Calif., leaves the Daytona doubleheader the championship leader.
“I can’t believe it,” said the jubilant Rush. “I was up above the groove at the start and tried squaring off the corner and shot out of there like a rocket. This is a dream come true. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was four and started riding. I started racing when I was five. Hopefully I can keep this up all season.”
Rush joins other past surprise winners at the unpredictable Municipal Stadium. Riders such as Steve Aseltine, Brett Landes and Richard Winsett were all relative unknowns when they scored their first wins in Daytona.
“I’m happy for Mike,” said defending series champ Jake Johnson, who is second in the standings after winning Wednesday night. “It’s another typical Daytona. I’m happy to come out of here with a first and third.”
Racing continues at Daytona International Speedway on Friday night when the Daytona Supercross by Honda takes center stage. Five-time AMA Supercross champ Ricky Carmichael is hoping to win the prestigious race in his final appearance.
AMA Grand National Singles Championship
1. Mike Rush, Suzuki
2. Ken Coolbeth, Honda
3. Jake Johnson, Suzuki
4. Glen JR Schnabel, Suzuki
5. Chris Carr, KTM
6. Rich King, KTM
7. Jared Mees, Honda
8. John Raun Wood, Honda
9. Bryan Bigelow, Suzuki
10. Jethro Halbert, Honda
11. Johnny Murphree, Kawasaki
12. Henry Wiles, Honda
13. Nick Cummings, Honda
14. Kevin Varnes, Suzuki
15. Joe Kopp, Honda
16. Daniel Gedeon, Honda