Rispoli: Daytona Report
NEWS March 10, 2010
The long awaited season opener for the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Singles Championship season has come and gone. I had such an awesome time the last two weeks and while I feel I could of done better, I was able to achieve a couple of podium finishes for the week and got out of there in 3rd place overall for the championship which was much better than last years start. My highlight of the week was making the podium and getting a second place finish on the new short track on its inaugural night at the famed Daytona Speedway in front of a sell-out crowd of more than 5,000. The only thing better was winning at the famed Daytona Stadium in 2009, the last time anyone will get a chance to do it again. Cool stuff for sure!!!
My trip started out a bit sketchy. Like every Daytona, you prepare all winter long yet some how it always comes down to the last minute for everything to come together. This year was no different. We managed to get it all covered with our new 2009 Cycle Dynamics CRF 450 getting prepped with components from RHC, Boughner Racing, K&N, Motion Pro, Spectro Oils, DP brakes, Engine Ice, Vortex gears and D&D pipe. My trusty Bettencourt Suzuki which I used last year to take a win at Daytona was also prepped with a full rebuild from top to bottom. I was ready for racing. I couldn't have done all the prep work without the support and sponsorship help from my crew chief Dustin Say. Dustin put in a ton of hours stripping my bikes down to the bare frames and rebuilding them back to mint race condition.
Neeses SC and Savannah GA, Half Mile
On the trip down I stopped off at Neeses SC to get some testing in since I have never ridden a fuel injected dirt tracker before. I changed suspension companies and also wanted to see how well my new Boughner Racing suspension was going to work. The tests went well and the Honda was hooked up and handled better than I expected. The Suzuki felt great too and it was really hooked up as well. I left Neeses and made my way to Savannah, GA for some half mile testing. I sat out the first two nights because I didn't want to put too much time on my new engines. I waited to Saturday night so I could make some money. During the evening it was clear the guys who raced the previous nights had their set ups dialed and already knew which lines were good on the track. It took me a while to get adjusted to the new 09 CRF too, since the fuel injection made throttle control quite a bit trickier. I took my time getting up to speed, qualified fine and was ready to race. In the race I had a problem with my bike really hooking up. I worked the entire track looking for a good line but ended up taking 5th overall. While I wasn't particularly happy I made a few bucks to offset some fuel costs. Later the next day working with Kenny Tolbert we discovered my tire gauge was reading 6 lbs off. That meant I was running like 21lbs in my front Goodyear and 26lbs in my rear. And I wonder why I couldn't get any grip.....
Baberville Half Mile
The next day we had a race at Barberville. I made sure this time the air in the tires was correct and went out for practice. The track was really rough, but I like it when the track is challenging like that. I ran pretty good but wanted to slow the bike down a little for the heat race so I added a tooth to the rear gear. I managed to win my heat and got ready for the main event. In the main my bike was working really good and I felt strong. I managed to take a second place finish and collected a few more bucks and continued to learn about the new bike.
Daytona Short Track Day 1
I finally made it to the short track at Daytona for a practice day. When I got off the track the first time I was convinced it was not very good and it stayed not very good the entire day. I knew that anything we did to set up the bikes to work in these conditions was going to be useless for the next days race and that was very true. The next day was race one and it started around 10AM with the first free practice. The next two practices would be timed and they would count for the qualifying positions. I had a first good run and was fifth but on the second timed run I ended up eleventh. I was not happy but since I still got a front row start I knew I could do something in the heat . I was on the outside of the front row but got an awesome start. We ended up with a red flag because a couple of riders got into each other. On the restart I nailed it again and managed to run up front chasing Carver as we broke away from the pack. I was catching Carver a little bit at a time but was making little mistakes here and there. We both did, but in the end I had to settle for second place. It was way cool and I really wanted to get up there on the podium the first night and thank all the great people who have been supporting me.
Daytona Short Track Day 2
After a little celebration from the night before we knew things were going to be tougher on day two. By now everyone was getting a feel for the track conditions and I expected it to be harder to qualify well too. The track unfortunately was nothing like the night before. Whatever set up worked on Wednesday was not working on Thursday. Mike Boughner came over and worked on the suspension and things go a little better each time but I was really spinning up the rear tire. It was too late but I knew half way through the practice that I should have used my Suzuki instead. The Suzuki has less power and the day before I didn't use it because it hooked up too much! I was committed now and had to make it work. I ended up qualifying like eight and that was a little better than the day before. In the heat I felt confident I could make it work and end up either first or second but I got stuck behind a rider and couldn't get enough grip to make the pass.
In the final I initially got a great start but the race was red flagged. On the restart I got pinched out and had to fight for every position. I just couldn't get a lot of forward motion out of the bike and was forced to settle for a 6th place finish. I was not a happy camper about that. After I had a chance to cool down I reviewed the night with Dustin and realized some things we would do differently. I got out of Daytona by making the main events on both nights out of 75 riders. I made it on the podium in the most prestigious of all short track races and came away with enough points to put me into third place in the championship. Now all I have to do is find the funds to be able to make the west coast rounds so I don't fall behind in the points too much.
I want to thank all my sponsors for all their help. To David Ashi for letting me crash in the RV at Daytona and to all the support, grub and everything. I couldn't do it without friends like you. To my bud Scott Rosey for being the man. To my crew chief Dustin who flew down on his own dime to work with me, I couldn't of done it without you. To Rhonda and Dave Waters thanks for all the help down there I hope I made you laugh. And, the same to my good friend Broc, who had a tough Daytona but let me crash with him in Savannah.
For more information about James "the Rocket" please visit his web site at www.jamesrispoli.com.
Till next time...do what I like to do GO FASTER...
James"the Rocket" Rispoli
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