Photography by Larry Lawrence
DAYTONA BEACH, FL, MARCH 15 – Gary Nixon will be smiling tonight, the former AMA Grand National Champion looking down as Danny Eslick rode his Triumph to victory today in the 73rd running of the Daytona 200 – giving Triumph its first win in the 200 since Nixon won the race 47 years ago.
And this was no gimme. Pole sitter Eslick was on the pace the entire day, always in the lead pack on the Riders Discount Racing Triumph and most times at the lead of that pack. When what at times early in the race was a 10-rider freight train at the front, whittled down to four, the two riders and ultimately one, that one was Eslick, the Oklahoman beating the RoadRace Factory/Red Bull Yamaha of Jake Gagne by 10.975 seconds after 57 laps (and two pit stops) of racing. Gagne was less than two seconds behind Eslick with 10 laps to go, but the gap started to grow until Gagne threw in the towel and settled for a safe second.
It was the former two-time AMA Daytona SportBike Champion Eslick’s 13th victory in the class, which moves him to within one of the third-placed man on the list, Josh Herrin. Martin Cardenas is the all-time Daytona SportBike winner with 24 wins.
After winning the race, an ecstatic Eslick stopped on the backside of the track, jumped the fence and climbed to the top of his friends’ school bus to celebrate.
“That was a lot of fun,” Eslick said. “That first stint to the first pit stop was pretty incredible. It was knock down, drag out like a sprint race. The last stint seemed like forever, but that was literally the shortest 200 miles of my life. Richard Stanboli [his crew chief] was the first guy I worked with like 10 years ago and here’s some payback for that first year.”
Third place in today’s 200 went to last year’s SportBike rookie of the year Jake Lewis. Lewis stayed out of trouble all day to put his MotoSport.com/Meen Yamaha R6 in Victory Lane for the fourth Daytona SportBike podium of his young career.
Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff looked to be the man most likely to give Yamaha victory in the 200, but after running the front pack the youngster crashed after the first pit stop. He remounted and started a charge through the field that ultimately landed him fifth place.
Team owner/racer and Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson race winner Kyle Wyman rode the Kyle Wyman Racing Yamaha R6 to sixth, some 31 seconds behind Gerloff. Wyman was the final rider on the lead lap after 200 miles.
Seventh and one lap behind came Brit Luke Stapleford on a Profile Racing Triumph. Then came GEICO Honda’s Jake Zemke, the former Daytona 200 winner, Bostjan Skubic and Steve Rapp rounded out the top 10. Rapp was also Triumph mounted, putting four of the British bikes in the top 10 along with five Yamahas and Zemke’s lone Honda.
The most notable non-finishers were Castrol Triumph’s Jason DiSalvo and Yamalube Westby Racing’s Dane Westby, the two crashing out of the four-way battle for the lead together on the 38th lap. Westby went down first and DiSalvo had nowhere to go and was threw the Triumph on its side before running over the Oklahoman. Westby had led nine laps, the second most in the race. Eslick ended up leading 44 times across the stripe.
Daytona 200 Results
Daytona International Speedway
March 15, 2014
1. Danny Eslick (Triumph)
2. Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
3. Jake Lewis (Yamaha)
4. Bobby Fong (Triumph)
5. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
6. Kyle Wyman (Yamaha)
7. Luke Stapleford (Triumph)
8. Jake Zemke (Honda)
9. Bostjan Skubic (Yamaha)
10. Steve Rapp (Triumph)