WYMAN: MY FIRST WIN
NEWS March 23, 2011
I learned a big lesson over the past few weeks, and although some people learn them the hard way, I feel I learned mine the easy way – the right way. What I learned is that hard work pays off! After months of preparation both physically and mentally, I was able to come away with my first AMA Pro victory at the season opener on my XR1200 at Daytona International Speedway – and here’s how it all came about:
We headed to Jennings GP in North Florida the week before the big race. It was my first time back on a bike since late Fall of 2010, so I was excited to get back on the bike and start getting back into the swing of things. I was there along with my teammates Chris Fillmore and Michael Corbino. It was a good test – we learned some things with suspension thanks to Lenny Albin of Race Tech, and we were able to find a good base setup after a couple days of hard work. There was one standing issue; the bikes didn’t seem to be running right. The mapping needed work, but we were going to be headed to Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona right from Jennings to get the bikes sorted out on the dyno.
After long days of the team, including my Dad, working on the bikes and trying to get them dialed in they were still unable to sort out the problem. It seemed to be a mystery, and it wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon that they were able to diagnose the problem – we had the wrong cranks in the motors! With only 24 hours until we were on the track for our first session at the Speedway, it seemed as though we were doomed.
But, there was good news – we found we could have three motors overnight shipped to us from Wisconsin, and they would be there Thursday morning around 10am. My Dad, John Brunner and the Bruce Rossmeyer’s Service Techs were hard at work, and the bikes were being rolled out one by one throughout the day. Luckily, with the rainstorm we experienced Thursday morning, our first session of the day was cancelled and we wouldn’t have to be on track until 5:30 in the afternoon. I think I was the only person in the entire city of Daytona Beach that was happy it was raining! This gave the team a nice cushion and a little bit of breathing room.
At 4 o’clock, I got a call from my Dad saying that my bike would be done in 20 minutes, and I had to go pick it up at Daytona Harley. My teammate Mike let me borrow his truck, and I immediately drove up there just in time for the bike to be done. We got back to the track around 4:45, just 45 minutes before I was on the track! It was definitely stressful knowing that the bike was just barely done in time, and I had to go out and ride in my first qualifying session with just minutes to spare. It turned out that we didn’t have time to break the bikes in on the dyno, so the qualifying session would have to be dedicated to just that.
So finally, I could sleep. The bikes were in the garage at the track, all in one piece and ready to go for the Friday morning final qualifying session. I was able to put it on the front row in 4th, which would set me up for a great run to turn one for the race.
At 3:15, it was race time. All of my hard work over the winter, my training and mental preparation would be put to the test in a 7-lap, 25 mile sprint race for the inaugural XR1200 series race at Daytona.
In the moments leading up to the race, there was one quote going through my mind out of an autobiography by Lou Holtz, the legendary Notre Dame football coach - “Pressure comes when someone calls on you to perform a task for which you are unprepared.” For the entire winter I’d dedicated myself to being prepared for the task of winning the XR1200 race at Daytona, so the quote brought me comfort knowing that I’ve done all that I can do to prepare. Now it was time to put it to the test.
I got off to a great start, pulling the holeshot going into turn one. From that point on, it became a four rider battle between myself, Steve Rapp, Joe Kopp and my teammate Chris Fillmore. We spent the next three laps or so sizing each other up, seeing where each others strong and weak points were. On lap five I pulled a slight gap going into the chicane, and to my surprise I found that I could hold on to the lead all the way to start/finish without being drafted. With more dicing and drafting, I found myself in the lead as I crossed the stripe getting the white flag – one lap to go.
The last lap at Daytona is best described as a chess match. Do I want to lead? Do I want to follow? Steve and Joe overtook me going into turn one, and I decided that it wasn’t a bad place to be. I knew if I was coming out of the chicane in 3rd I would be able to draft them to the line. We all stayed in line through the infield, all four of us trying to put ourselves in the best position to win. When we came out of turn 6 onto the west banking I was still in 3rd with Joe and Steve in front of me running one and two. I got a great drive up the banking and found myself directly behind Steve as we climbed up to the white hashes. With a drive like that, how could I not try to advance my position? I drafted Steve to the outside, and there was just enough room in between him and Joe where I could swing back down, catch Joe’s draft on the way to the bottom and slingshot into the lead.
As I drove down the back straightaway, a few thoughts went through my mind. Everyone who’s anyone has told me that being in the lead going into the chicane is the worst place to be – a sitting duck if you will. But, there was no turning back. I got on the brakes as late as possible going into the chicane, trying to pull a gap. I put myself mid-track through the NASCAR turns 3 and 4, and to my dismay, the #5 bike of Rapp had drafted me to the inside. As soon as he pulled out, he swung down to the yellow line on the bottom of the race track. I tried to get behind him as quickly as possible to catch some of his draft. My front wheel was still ahead of his rear wheel, so I couldn’t get directly behind him. The side draft was just enough. I started inching up past him, and now the only thing between myself and the finish line of Daytona International Speedway was the newly paved racing surface. I just hoped that it would be enough to get me to the line first.
Thankfully, it was! I had just earned my first AMA Pro victory, and I couldn’t believe it. It was such a great feeling looking up at the famous scoring tower at Daytona and seeing the number 33 on top. After all that happened in the week leading up to the race, all I could think about was how crazy it must have been on pit lane with my Dad, Richie, John, the team and everyone who worked so hard to get our bikes out there for the race. They must have been ecstatic! I couldn’t wait to get to victory lane.
It was everything I’d hoped for and more. My teammate Chris Fillmore crossed the line in second – a 1-2 finish for the team! I couldn’t think of a better way for the team to be rewarded after all the hard work they put in. My other teammate, Mike Corbino, finished 9th – putting all three RMR/Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing XR1200’s in the top 10.
The 2011 season opener at Daytona was the greatest race of my career. I owe it all to my Dad and my sponsors. I can’t wait to get to Infineon and continue what’s looking to be an awesome year!
Thank you to my sponsors: Richie Morris Racing, Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing, Revolution Performance, Geico, Lucas Oil, Race Tech, EBC, Arai Helmets, Pilot Leathers, Sidi Boots, Held Gloves, Motion Pro, Kicker, Webster Dental Group, TioHero Tours, and Kuryakyn
Thanks for reading!
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