Eslick Gears Up for Title Shot

Henny Ray Abrams | September 2, 2011

 The final weekend of the 2011 AMA Pro Road Racing series should be a coronation for RMR Geico’s Danny Eslick. The Oklahoman who won the inaugural Daytona SportBike championship here at New Jersey Motorsports Park holds a 45 point lead over Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Herrin starting the weekend. If Eslick gets the pole position in Saturday’s final qualifying session, he’ll need to finish only fourth or better to secure his second DSB title. If he doesn’t get the pole, he’ll need to finish third. Since he hasn’t been worse than third in his last six races, a span that includes three wins and two seconds, his chances are promising.”I think I’m sitting in a pretty good seat right now,” Eslick said after setting fast time in Friday afternoon’s first DSB qualifying session. Eslick lapped the 2.25-mile, 14-turn road course in 1:24.694 mins. to take the provisional pole. Cameron Beaubier ( Holden Racing Yamaha) was second at .242 sec. and Taylor Knapp (Vesrah Suzuki) third at .417 sec.

The rider closest to Eslick in the championship finished fourth. Herrin’s best lap was 1:25.027 mins., which put him third in the ten rider group covered by a second, all of whom were chasing the championship leader.Herrin has more than just Eslick to worry about. Latus Motors Racing’s Jason DiSalvo is three points behind the Yamaha rider, though he’ll need to improve on his first session performance. In his first ride on the Latus Motors’ Triumph Daytona 675 – DiSalvo has spent the season on the team’s Ducati 848s – DiSalvo qualified tenth.With such a big points lead, Eslick could afford to take it easy over the two days of racing, but won’t. “It’s just not my style to go cruise around,” he said. With a five week gap since the last race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Eslick has had plenty of time to think about it. Having 45 points “definitely gives me that little bit of insurance to know that it’s there.” At the same time, for Saturday’s race “there’s some pressure. I don’t want to screw it up and put myself in a bad situation.”Daytona SportBike Qualifying:1. Danny Eslick (Suzuki) 1:24.694

2. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) 1:24.936

3. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki) 1:25.011

4. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 1:25.027

5. Paul Allison (Yamaha) 1:25.049

6. Dane Westby (Suzuki) 1:25.106

7. P.J. Jacobsen (Ducati) 1:25.156

8. Tommy Aquino (Yamaha) 1:25.170

9. Bryce Prince (Yamaha) 1:25.386

10. Jason DiSalvo (Triumph) 1:25.573

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.