Photography by Larry Lawrence
DAYTONA BEACH, FL, MARCH 14 — Danny Eslick won the Daytona Sportbike Championship on a twin and then a four-cylinder machine. The likeable Oklahoman just may be eyeing a third title and this year on a Triumph Daytona 675 – a three-cylinder race bike. Eslick started his 2014 journey in a big way, winning the Daytona 200 pole and the accompanying Rolex watch aboard his Riders Discount Racing Triumph today, turning a 1:49.292.
That time was over .7 of a second faster than the next fastest time turned in by Yamaha Extended Service/Graves Yamaha rider Garrett Gerloff.
It marks the first time in 43 years that a Triumph rider earned the pole for America’s best-known motorcycle road race. Brit Paul Smart was the last Triumph rider to win the 200 pole in 1971.
“Gerloff gave me a good tow,” said an emotional Eslick after winning the pole. “Gerloff caught a guy, ran up on him and I got a double draft from the chicane around, so Gerloff handed it to me. He kind of messed me up after that, but he’d already towed me around and helped me get a shiny new watch.”
Gerloff, who qualified second with a 1:50.065, admitted he was shocked when he saw Eslick’s time.
“I didn’t even know Danny was behind me,” Gerloff said. “I guess he was using me a little bit. That was a fast lap. I don’t know how he did it. I guess he got a double draft or something like that. He might have just been going good. I felt pretty good. When we put the new tire on I was focusing more on who was around me and trying to put in as fast of a lap as I could. I don’t think that was as fast as I could go. It’s different doing one lap compared to 200 miles. I think with my team we have the best package in terms of consistency and pit stops. I’m disappointed I didn’t get the pole position, but I’m not concerned about the race.”
Jake Lewis also starts on the front row with his MotoSport.com/Meen Yamaha R6. Lewis clocked a 1:50.148. Lewis was happy with where he ended up after crashing this morning.
“I kind of struggled all weekend,” Lewis said. “The crew put the bike together after the crash this morning, so big thanks to them for getting me up here. It was just a 20-minute session.I knew it was going to be all out. At the beginning I saw Garrett and kind of hooked up with him and another rider and put in a pretty decent time. After that I put on a new tire and didn’t see anyone out there.”
Jason DiSalvo will head up the second row on his Castrol Triumph. He’ll share that row with Dane Westby and Jake Gagne.
Daytona 200 Qualifying
1 69 Danny Eslick Triumph Daytona 675 1:49.292
2 8 Garrett Gerloff Yamaha YZF-R6 1:50.065
3 85 Jake Lewis Yamaha YZF-R6 1:50.148
4 40 Jason DiSalvo Triumph Daytona 675 1:50.337
5 00 Dane Westby Yamaha YZF-R6 1:50.598
6 32 Jake Gagne Yamaha YZF-R6 1:50.682
7 6 JD Beach Yamaha YZF-R6 1:51.462
8 12 Tomas Puerta Yamaha YZF-R6 1:51.677
9 68 Luke Stapleford Triumph Daytona 675 1:51.811
10 41 Luke Mossey Yamaha YZF-R6 1:51.889