Photography by Andrea Wilson
DAYTONA BEACH, FL, MAR. 15 – A red flag came out with seven minutes to go in the final qualifying for tomorrow’s Daytona 200, taking away any chance for a climatic finish. But Cameron Beaubier had pretty much made sure that wasn’t going to happen anyway.
Y.E.S. Yamaha’s Beaubier threw down his 1:49.612 fairly early in the session and nobody was going to match it – red flag or no red flag. The Californian had set the pace from the get-go at the Speedway and it didn’t change in final qualifying, ensuring that the youngster would leave with the Rolex chronograph that goes to the pole winner annually.
In fact, no one was got to within a second of Beaubier’s best with his teammate Garrett Gerloff coming the closest and that was with a yawning gap of 1.49 seconds. Gerloff’s best was a 1:51.102 – .230 of a second faster than another Yamaha, this one ridden by Triple Crown/RMR’s Bobby Fong. Not bad considering it was Gerloff’s first-ever qualifying attempt for what will be the biggest race of his young career.
“This morning was pretty horrible conditions and this afternoon was really good,” Beaubier said. “The track temp came up and I got a good draft on the last straightaway to the finish and I just really want to thank my team. They gave me an awesome bike so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
When asked what he was going to do with that new Rolex, Beaubier stated the obvious: “I’m going to wear it.”
If Beaubier was impressive in qualifying for what will be his second Daytona 200, so too was Gerloff in what will be his first.
“Conditions were a lot better this afternoon than this morning,” Gerloff said. “I just went out and tried to get a clear lap. It’s a pretty big qualifying thing and this is my first Daytona SportBike qualifying. I just have to stay focused. Cameron was flying and I think he’s got an R1 motor in his. I might have to protest.”
The front row for the 200 will be completed by Jake Zemke, the veteran in a one-off ride on a Ducati for Desmo Veloce. Zemke was also in the 1:51s with his 1:51.599 and the first non-Yamaha in qualifying.
The second row for the race will be headed by RoadRace Factory’s JD Beach, the final rider in the 1:51s. He will be joined there by class rookie Jake Lewis on the Meen Motorsports Yamaha R6, defending Daytona 200 winner Joey Pascarella and LTD Racing’s Huntley Nash.
Daytona SportBike Qualifying
1. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) 1:49.612
2. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha) 1:51.102
3. Bobby Fong (Yamaha) 1:51.332
4. Jake Zemke (Ducati) 1:51.599
5. JD Beach (Yamaha) 1:51.871
6. Jake Lewis (Yamaha) 1:52.173
7. Joey Pascarella (Triumph) 1:52.213
8. Huntley Nash (Yamaha) 1:52.243
9. Jake Gagne (Yamaha) 1:52.343
10. James Rispoli (Suzuki) 1:52.439