DAYTONA BEACH, FL, MAR. 15 – Y.E.S. Yamaha’s Cameron Beaubier didn’t put a wheel wrong during the three days of practice, qualifying and racing at Daytona International Speedway and the end result was victory in the 72nd running of the Daytona 200 for the 20-year-old from Roseville, California.
Beaubier was basically perfect this week and that didn’t change today – the only miscue coming on the 41st lap of the 57-lap race when he ran wide in turn one. It was a case of no harm, no foul, however, as he already had this one in the bag by then. He calmly recovered and continued to put together strings of 1:50 lap times to put this one away, winning his first Daytona 200 and the eighth Daytona SportBike victory of his young career.
It was a pretty tough race,” Beaubier said from Victory Lane. “At the beginning, I pushed to try and get away from them and it didn't’ work the first time. I tried really hard again and I can’t give it up enough for my team and my Yamaha. I’m speechless and I don’t even know what to say.”
By the end of the race, Beaubier had lapped all the way up to sixth-placed Steve Rapp, but Rapp fought back to get the lap back. Then Beaubier drafted past to beat him to the line, saving Rapp another lap and meaning the rising star did lap all but the top five riders. And all five of those were Yamaha R6s with Rapp the first non-Yamaha on the GEICO Honda as a replacement rider for Dane Westby, who suffered a spleen injury on Thursday.
Second place went to Beaubier’s 17-year-old teammate Garrett Gerloff, the youngster also putting in a near-perfect ride in what was his first-ever Daytona 200. Gerloff ended up 22.254 seconds behind his teammate.
Triple Crown/RMR’s Bobby Fong put another R6 in Victory Lane, the Californian another with a solid performance in relatively uneventful Daytona 200. Fong finished 15.8 seconds behind Gerloff, but over 30 seconds clear of fourth place.
That spot went to Jake Gagne in what was a great day for the RoadRace Factory Yamaha team with Gagne and JD Beach finishing fifth and sixth, respectively.
Then came Rapp on the Honda with National Guard/Celtic Racing’s James Rispoli seventh in his Daytona 200 debut. Ben Young finished eighth on the Ben Young Racing R6.
History was made in the next group with Elena Myers and Melissa Paris rounding out the top 10 – becoming the first two women to ever finish in the top 10 of the Daytona 200. MPH Racing’s Paris looked to have ninth in the bag, but a ride-through penalty late in the race dropped her behind the Triumph-mounted Myers.
Among the notable non-finishers were the Triumphs of last year's winner Joey Pascarella and Jason DiSalvo, the pair going out early with mechanical woes. Ducati-mounted Jake Zemke was knocked out of fourth place on the 32nd lap when he coasted to a stop in turn one with a mechanical failure.
1. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
2. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha)
3. Bobby Fong (Yamaha)
4. Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
5. JD Beach (Yamaha)
6. Steve Rapp (Honda)
7. James Rispoli (Suzuki)
8. Ben Young (Yamaha)
9. Elena Meyers (Triumph)
10. Melissa Paris (Honda)