With the news that MotoAmerica is headed to Daytona International Speedway in March of 2022 for the Daytona 200, we decided the perfect way to build excitement for the event would be to start digging through the history books and memory banks. Since Paul Carruthers is literally as old as the Speedway itself and covered almost 30 Daytona 200s as a journalist while working at Cycle News, it was a no-brainer that it would be him who would take on the task of trying to recall the good and the bad. And since we are the home of the AMA Superbike Series, we figured we’d have him start his look back with the 1985 Daytona 200 – the first of the 200s to feature Superbikes – and go from there. This week, we focus on the 2018 and 2019 Daytona 200s.
Winner: Danny Eslick. Yamaha YZF-R6
TOBC Racing’s Danny Eslick dominated the 77th running of the Daytona 200 with by a 26-second margin, winning the race for the fourth time in five years. The Oklahoman also became just the third rider to win four or more Daytona 200s with Scott Russell and Miguel Duhamel sharing the record for victories in the iconic race with five apiece.
“We’ve kind of set our name in the books here at Daytona – we’ve done pretty well,” Eslick said. “The biggest thing is the crew here at DIS. This is the only race (of the season) where we do pit stops.”
The Turning Point: Polesitter Valentin Debise was hopeful of becoming the second French rider to win the Daytona 200, but it all went wrong when he crashed out of the lead on just the 10th lap at more than 100 mph. Debise was diagnosed with a compression fracture of the third lumbar vertebra.
Newsworthy: Second place and some 26 seconds behind Eslick was Cory West with Robertino Pietri rounding out the top three with a last-lap pass of Geoff May.
Pietri’s third-place finish in the Daytona 200 matched the third-place finish posted by his father Roberto Pietri in the 1982 Daytona 200.
Michael Barnes, the 2016 winner of the Daytona 200, had a strong outing going until mechanical problems knocked him out of the race.
John Ashmead, the career leader in miles completed in the Daytona 200, ended the race in 18th to amass a total of 4533 miles.
Winner: Kyle Wyman, Yamaha YZF-R6
N2 Racing Yamaha’s Kyle Wyman earned his first Daytona 200 victory after coming out on top of a four-lap sprint to the finish following a late-race red flag. Just 1.2 seconds separated Wyman from sixth-placed Geoff May at the end of 200 miles of racing.
“To win it like this, Daytona, in a four-lap sprint race, it’s just unreal,” Wyman said. “I’m speechless – what a race. The highs and lows of a 200-mile endurance race, you know. I ran out of fuel on the last lap of the second stint and was just gutted. I was riding around in third place (toward the end), but the red flag came out and I had another shot.”
The Turning Point: The late-race red flag made the difference in the race as it gave Wyman and runner-up Sean Dylan Kelly the chance to race for victory. Kelly was a lap down when the red flag came out, but he was allowed to restart on the lead lap going into the four-lap sprint and he made the most of it with a second-place finish in his Daytona 200 debut.
Newsworthy: On the Friday before the race, Kelly became the youngest rider in the 78-year history of the Daytona 200 to take pole position. Kelly lapped at 1:49.064 (115.859 mph) to best Bobby Fong and Jason Aguilar.
The margin of victory for Wyman over Kelly was just .213 of a second.
Bobby Fong rode his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki to third place with four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes finishing fourth. Brandon Paasch rounded out the top-five finishers. Danny Eslick’s bid to become the third five-time winner of the Daytona 200 ended with mechanical problems early in the race. Eslick had qualified eighth.