New 2011 Winner, Points-Leader in Barber Daytona SportBike
NEWS June 18, 2011
Photo by Brian J. Nelson
BIRMINGHAM, AL (June 18, 2011) – “As you can see,” said GEICO Powersports/RMR Suzuki’s Danny Eslick in the post-qualifying press conference, “this is a pretty mean front row.” Sitting beside the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike pole-earner in Barber Motorsport Park’s pressroom were the other three most-wanted men in 2011 Daytona SportBike racing: PJ Jacobsen (Celtic Racing/Fast by Ferracci), Josh Herrin (Monster Energy Graves Yamaha), and Jason DiSalvo (Team Latus Motors Racing).
The stakes were sky-high for all four heading into a sweltering Race 1 at the gorgeously green Birmingham facility, as a pair of DNFs at the previous round had seen DiSalvo forced to cede the lead-change to Herrin for the first time this season. In the end, however, victory shone not on points-leaders or former points-leaders, but on those from the road race-proud state of Oklahoma, as Broken Arrow’s Eslick led M4 Suzuki’s Dane Westby (Tulsa) and Vesrah Suzuki’s Cory West (Oklahoma City) to what some OK-fans have labeled an “Oklapodium.”
“It’s been a tough season so far,” said Eslick, who’d gone winless in 2011 until today. “It means a lot to get this win … it’s pretty awesome.”
Eslick launched into the lead off the start, and – in an almost unheard-of occurrence in the shark-tank-like Daytona SportBike class – was never forced to release it, save for a brief skirmish with Jacobsen on Lap 1. Instead, he began almost immediately to spin out a modest lead that grew, over the 21 laps, to an unassailable one. Helping matters were that fact that two of his biggest recent threats, Herrin and Jacobsen, were negated early in the contest, Jacobsen sliding out at the end of Lap 1 and Herrin – pounding his tank in fury – having to pit just minutes later with a seized engine.
DiSalvo, trying desperately to chase down Eslick from second, initially appeared to be the heir-apparent challenger once Jacobsen and Herrin were out, but the Latus rider was likewise soon struggling, getting shuffled back to fifth in the lead pack. With about seven to go, a three-way battle for second kicked off between Aquino, Westby, and West, and as the laps clicked down, it only intensified.
“I could see the numbers on the scoring tower changing position,” said Eslick, “[and] I kept seeing different numbers in second, so I knew they were racing pretty hard back there. I just didn’t want to do anything crazy and mess up.”
While Eslick checked out, heading the field by nearly four seconds at one point, DiSalvo did everything he could to keep the trio in front of him within grasp, but was ultimately forced to settle for fifth, his run of recent bad luck seeming to stretch yet further. And while Aquino was left to a solid but somewhat disappointing fourth, Westby and West each had plenty to celebrate, Westby claiming the race’s runner-up position while West took over the overall points-lead in the Daytona SportBike Championship, 136 points to Eslick’s 135.
“It’s awesome,” said West later, shaking his head. “I can’t thank the Vesrah guys enough. Now we just have to try to push on and get another podium tomorrow.”
Today’s Daytona SportBike and National Guard SuperBike races air tonight at 9 p.m. PST/midnight EST on SPEED. Tomorrow’s Daytona SportBike Race 2 kicks off at 2:15 p.m. Central time; follow twitter.com/AMAProLIVE for live race play-by-plays.
For complete ticket and schedule information, please visit www.barbermotorsports.com. The Barber SuperBike Classic Weekend, honoring the men and women of the Alabama National Guard, features a host of activities and racing action at the magnificent Barber Motorsports Park facility, and special discounts are available for Guard members and their families.
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