DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 17, 2012) - In only his third AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike start, 19 year-old Joey Pascarella took home the win at the 71st DAYTONA® 200 Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Pascarella, aboard the Project 1 Atlanta/March of Dimes Yamaha YZF-R6, was able to hold the lead despite having three riders (Jason DiSalvo of Latus Motors Racing Triumph, Cameron Beaubier of Graves Yamaha, and Martin Cardenas of GEICO Suzuki) on his tail at the conclusion of the 57-lap race. Pascarella's margin of victory was 0.048 over DiSalvo, with Beaubier edging out Martin Cardenas by photo finish.
Pascarella and Beaubier were the only two riders remaining in the lead pack after the second round of pit stops, but Cardenas and then DiSalvo managed to run down the fast teens from several seconds back to make a four-man battle in the final four laps.
Pascarella, who led 41 laps, ran in first as the riders entered the chicane on the final lap. The fast four moved past a lapped rider and made the charge to the stripe for the 57th time, where Pascarella encountered another backmarker.
"I knew I could do it and I had faith in myself," said Pascarella, who did not test the bike or ride before Wednesday's practice. "I ran my own race. I thought if I led on the last lap and someone passed me, so be it. I felt most comfortable in the lead. Everyone was there the whole race. It ended up working out. I got a draft on a lapper and I was able to bring it home with a win. I don't know what we're doing for the rest of the season, but hopefully the team and I can keep going."
Project 1 Atlanta won the pole for the 2011 race with rider Jake Zemke.
Runner-up DiSalvo charged hard after slowing before the first round of stops. "I thought I had an issue with the motorcycle and I backed off the pace considerably and we lost a good bit of time. We went through our pit stop and got back out there and everything looked okay and we kept going," said last year's DAYTONA® 200 winner. "Once I thoroughly chastised myself for making a silly move like that -- you ride it until it stops, you don't think you hear a noise and pull in -- I just rode as hard as I could every lap. Every lap of that race was ten tenths, as hard as I could go. It ended up working out right that we were right there in the end. Through all the laps, and all the sliding around and slicing through lapped riders, it was just in the back of my mind that I was riding for Gary (Nixon) and riding for his memory, and for my crew and all the hard work they put in."
"The race was awesome," said third-place finisher Beaubier. "I really didn't get a good draft to the line, but I am happy with third."
Behind the lead pack, another set of riders participated in an equally ferocious battle. M4 Broaster Chicken Suzuki rider Dane Westby led that pack filled with veterans and young riders, breaking away at the line to close out the top five. Ducshop Racing's Zemke followed, with Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha's Tommy Hayden, RoadRace Factory/Red Bull's Jake Gagne, SGA Racing's Tommy Aquino in tow. Cory West and the Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki Team rounded out the top 10.
AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike
Friday's AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike race winner, Josh Hayes, wasn't able to savor his season-opening victory for long as his primary rival, Yoshimura Racing Suzuki's Blake Young, took his revenge on Saturday in a thrilling showdown of the series' title favorites.
Hayes bolted into the lead from the start aboard his Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1 but was unable to replicate yesterday's escape as Young made a concerted effort to track him down and cling onto the lead draft.
Their battle pushed them far out in front of a trailing pack that quickly broke into a number of smaller melees, with National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden and Hayes' Yamaha teammate, Josh Herrin, vigorously swapping positions in their clash for third.
While Young was able to keep pace with Hayes up front, the Mississippian appeared to be very much in control of the race. Utilizing a superior line out of the chicane, Hayes demonstrated the ability to hold an advantage all the way to the stripe while in front or draft past from second while the Suzuki man struggled to do either with any sort of consistency.
However, Hayes suffered a moment on the banking while leading late in the race and decided his safest bet would be to follow on the final lap and set up a strike at the flag. That plan unraveled when Hayes mistimed his slingshot attempt, coming up just 0.002 seconds short of Young at the line.
Young, who rebounded admirably following Friday's (relatively) disappointing effort, said, "Today's race was a lot better than yesterday's race, for sure. I knew Josh was going to be good on the banking and out of the chicane. I just didn't know how good. I knew I had to make it happen on the first five laps and be right on him to see what he was doing exactly out of the chicane that made me him so good onto the banking. I definitely learned and adapted pretty quickly before he could get away.
"He's got more power this year than last year for sure, but my guys worked hard for me. We sat back and looked at the data, but I knew it was nothing we were going to see on the data -- it was me yesterday. I just didn't have a very good race and wanted to work hard to show my crew they shouldn't give up on me yet."
Hayes was happy to leave Daytona with a win, a runner-up, pole, and two lap leader points in his pocket, but couldn't help but feel like he let one get away on this day.
After the race, the defending champ said, "We were both playing the game out there. We both tried each other through the banking and we seemed pretty even on one another. I felt like I was pretty good out of the chicane and I had gotten away with that a whole bunch of times, but in the later part of the race I struggled with some grip and lost the front in NASCAR 4. I ended up going through there about three-quarter throttle and that was the first lap he actually did come by me on the banking. So I started having a few doubts about making a run from the front because if I had an issue like that at the end I'd be a sitting duck. Once I made the run on him and knew I could draft by him just the same I kind of let him lead the last lap and just sat back there.
"Going into the back straightaway I was a little further back than I wanted to be and panicked a little bit and ran off in the chicane pretty hard. I don't think it was the deciding factor, but once we got up on the banking I just mistimed it a little bit. It was 100% my fault -- I just mistimed it. I had a good weapon today. I had a bike that could win the race and this one is on my shoulders. He rode a great race and definitely upped his game from yesterday."
Hayden ultimately came out on top of a seesawing duel with National Guard SuperBike rookie Herrin, who responded to his Friday crash with a fine effort to finish within sight of the podium in fourth.
After garnering his second podium result in as many days, Hayden said, "Josh Herrin made me earn this one today. He was really riding good for his rookie race weekend. I was trying to break the draft in the infield; I felt I was a little bit stronger than him but he could always draft back by me and I couldn't draft him. We definitely need to find a little bit more speed but I am happy to come away with two third-place finishes. It's a good start to the season. We kind of know where we are weak at now so we can try to improve before Road Atlanta."
For the second consecutive day, Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing BMW's Larry Pegram victimized Motorcycle-Superstore.com/Big Kahuna/LeoVince Attack Kawasaki's Steve Rapp at the flag. Pegram edged Rapp for fourth on Friday by 0.001 seconds and turned the same trick on Saturday, topping him for fifth by 0.080 seconds.
New Yoshimura Racing Suzuki runner Chris Clark came home in seventh, with EvanSteelPerformance.com BMW's Jake Holden ultimately coming out on top of a mid-race multi-rider affair for eighth, followed by two-time Daytona SportBike king Danny Eslick on the Team Hero EBR 1190RS and Team Venezuela Suzuki's Robertino Pietri to complete the top ten.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
SuzukiScoopFans Sportbike TrackGear.com M4 Suzuki's Elena Myers claimed her second-career AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport victory on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.
Myers won out following a race-long four-rider scrap for the checkered flag, beating National Guard Suzuki's Corey Alexander and RoadRace Factory/Red Bull Yamaha's Hayden Gillim to the flag by 0.239 and 0.248 seconds, respectively. Yesterday's winner, James Rispoli on the Celtic Racing Suzuki GSX-R600, was a factor throughout as well but slowed slightly on the final lap to finish fourth.
Homestead-Miami Speedway, in Homestead, Florida will host an official series test on March 20-22. A month later on April 20-22, AMA Pro Road Racing will return to Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia for Round 2 of the 2012 championship with the first of the season's three M1 PowerSports-promoted Triumph Big Kahuna events, Big Kahuna Atlanta.
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