Sunday’s AMA Pro Daytona SportBike action at Elkhart Lake’s beautiful Road America track immediately launched into one of the high-speed, seven-rider freight trains the class has become known for. Within minutes, though, a red flag flew and the action came to an abrupt temporary halt, as Team Latus Motors’ Jason DiSalvo — who’d been dicing with Race 1 winner Josh Herrin (Monster Energy Graves Yamaha) and Celtic Racing/Fast by Ferracci’s PJ Jacobsen for the lead — spun out of the race before the field had completed Lap 3.
The red flag flew soon after to give the ambulance clear track to retrieve DiSalvo from the infield. DiSalvo was up and walking, but was taken to the track clinic to get a doctor’s assistance in pushing a dislocated right shoulder back into place.
On the restart, Jacobsen rocketed back into the lead with Herrin, Danny Eslick (GEICO Powersports/RMR Suzuki), Dane Westby (M4 Suzuki), Cory West (Vesrah Suzuki), Cameron Beaubier (GP Bike Parts), and Tommy Aquino (Y.E.S./Pat Clark/Graves Yamaha) bearing down on him, all separated by less than a second. When the second red flag few (following crashes by Jake Holden and Jason Farrell), it resulted in a few minutes of downtime followed by a restart that spit out roughly the same front running order, Herrin taking the holeshot but soon ceding it to Jacobsen.
Beaubier, who rose high in yesterday’s race before getting sucked back into the chase group, made another attempt at front-runner status by sliding into third ahead of Eslick, but Eslick quickly turned the upstart around, West following up by pushing Beaubier back yet another position. Herrin, meanwhile, was sticking close to Jacobsen’s rear wheel, even as Eslick scouted for a way around the Yamaha rider. Just corners later, however, it was West who made a big move, first stuffing Eslick to take over third, then sailing past both Herrin and Jacobsen to take over the lead.
What followed was a series of lead changes so quick and frenetic that race-watchers couldn’t look away for a second, and the drafting action up the front straight impressed even the racers, Herrin later commenting, “At one time, we were five- or six-wide going down the straightaway. I looked to my left and was like, ‘damn.'”
West’s lead fell first to Jacobsen, then Herrin, Herrin taking over the front spot to lead an astoundingly close seven-rider freight through Road America’s turns and multiple straights. Soon, though, it was Eslick in the lead, heading West and Westby, the latter moving up to take his own turn at the front, and in later laps Beaubier again jumped forward briefly to head the pack. With just a handful of laps remaining, though, the field lost another major player, as Jacobsen was suddenly seen riding his bike onto the grass with an apparent mechanical.
Jacobsen’s departure still left seven riders in the lead group, at least five of which looked entirely ready to take the win, but with two laps to go, it was Herrin who shot from fourth to first. A challenge by West went badly wrong, the rider going wide and sliding back to sixth as Westby tried to challenge Eslick for second. Westby’s assault went considerably better, the M4 rider taking over the lead just after the white flag flew.
Pulling up beside Westby on the straightaway, Herrin slid by enough to cut into the turn and reclaim the lead heading for Road America’s back section, but within turns it was Eslick at the front, leading Herrin, Westby, Aquino, and West through the final corners. As the final-approach drafting battle began, however, Josh Herrin roared up from behind, slingshotting past to claim the victory by .093 seconds.
Herrin was followed across the line by Eslick, Westby, Aquino, West, Beaubier, Fernando Amantini (Team Amantini), Tyler Odom (Don Odom Racing), Paul Allison (Triple Crown Industries), and Tyler O’Hara (GP Bike Parts Racing), and he’s now followed in the points chase by absolutely everyone, having taken over the points lead with 127 to West’s 115. DiSalvo sits in third with 110.
For flag-to-flag coverage of today’s Daytona SportBike and National Guard SuperBike races, plus highlights from AMA Pro’s other classes, tune in to SPEED TV tonight from 9 to 11 p.m. PST.
The AMA Pro Road Racing Championship next heads for Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, for the Barber SuperBike Classic, Round 5 on the season calendar. For tickets and information, visit www.barbermotorsport.com/ama or call (877) 332-7804.
To be a part of the AMA Pro Road Racing Championship, visit www.amaproracing.com and join us on Facebook (facebook.com/amaproroadracing) and Twitter (twitter.com/AMAProSBK).
“I think I just have a fast bike. There’s no real perfection to drafting in a straight line, I just had the fast bike today and I have to thank my guys — they know how to build fast bikes. It was a great race, lot of close racing, and I’m just glad we finished another race weekend strong and get to head over closer to my house now for Barber. I was just trying to stay patient, not get too antsy. I knew we had a fast bike today, knew we could gain time on straight and were pretty quick in the Carousel, so I was just waiting for my shot at it and didn’t try to rush it.
“It’s nice to be in the lead, but kind of crappy the way that it happened. I knew we could get up there, but I definitely didn’t expect it to happen this soon. But the championship is pretty close now, so it’ll be a fun year.”
“When there’s five, six guys going for it you get a huge draft and you can get in there deep [into Turn 5]. It was just an awesome race, I don’t know what to say. I can’t wait to get home and watch it … it had to be spectacular for the fans and everyone watching. I definitely wanted to be leading…. I tried a few times to get by Dane through the start-finish line and it wasn’t working, so there was no way I was going to get by him. You can kind of feel when someone’s drafting up behind you. I didn’t feel it, didn’t feel it, then Josh came sling-shotting by me. It was definitely my best finish at Road America, I had a great weekend, and I’m looking forward to moving on to Barber.”
“All the guys did pretty much same thing the first couple corners, so I didn’t really think about [the red flags] too much. I knew [Herrin and Eslick] were going to come back by on the straight, so I was just trying to set up the brakes. When the white flag came out, it honestly surprised me a little bit. But it was close racing between me and the guys, and everything worked out great.”
For details results from today’s racing, visit http://results.amaproracing.com.