Photography by Larry Lawrence
DAYTONA BEACH, FL, MARCH 13 – Sammy Halbert missed the Daytona Short Track National last season recovering from knee surgery, but he returned this year and never skipped a beat. Halbert, a three-time winner at Daytona, came out on top in Saturday afternoon’s timed qualifying at Daytona’s Short Track aboard his Vans Yamaha. Halbert’s time of 17.329 edged out the run of Bryan Smith’s of 17.449. Chad Cose and Brad Baker rounded out the top qualifiers. Typical of Short Track racing, the top ten were separated by less than 3-10ths of a second.
“I’m feeling good,” said a smiling Halbert. “It’s great to get back to Daytona after missing it last year. It’s a unique surface here and I feel right at home every time I get on it. I’m looking to have a good night.”
Halbert was faster in the first of two qualifying sessions, but no one improved on his time in the second session.
“The track will definitely be different tonight,” Halbert continued. “But I’ve been fast year during the day and carried it on to the evening program. I seem to be able to use the momentum for being top qualifier.”
One of the surprises of qualifying was the strong performance turned in by Shayna Texter in her Grand National debut. Texter, never a short track specialist, qualified 21st among the 44 riders on her DFW Honda. That will place her on the inside on the second row in her Heat race.
Texter was pleasantly surprised by her time.
“Honestly I am a little bit surprised because I’ve usually been down the list in qualifying at Short Tracks in Pro Singles,” Texter said. “To be there in the expert class is awesome. I really think all the extensive training I’ve been doing on Triumph is making the 450 easy to ride around this short track. I’ve been having fun. There’s no pressure this year chasing championship points like there has been in the past.”
Texter said she really wanted to put it on the front row in her first Grand National race, but she said in the end the inside second row is better than outside the front row.
Daytona Short Track Qualifying
1 7 Sammy Halbert Yamaha YZ 450F 17.329
2 42 Bryan Smith Honda CRF450R 17.449
3 49 Chad Cose Honda CRF450R 17.515
4 1 Brad Baker KTM 450 SX-F 17.527 17.727
5 44 Brandon Robinson Kawasaki KX450F 17.547
6 71 Donald Mullen II Honda CRF450R 17.572
7 5 Jake Johnson Honda CRF450R 17.586
8 2 Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. Honda CRF450R 17.601
9 98 Kayl Kolkman Suzuki RMZ 450 17.604
10 54 Mike Rush Honda CRF450R 17.607