DAYTONA REPORT–MARCH 9
By John Basher
As I slipped past Daytona racetrack security (the track happens to be sealed up tighter than a drum), I walked out onto one of the most prestigious supercross tracks in the world. Bercy might have the laser shows, Las Vegas might have the East/West shootout, but the name Daytona speaks volumes in the supercross world. While the weather was overcast with occasional sprinkles and hovering around 70 degrees, it was the perfect day to not only see who was truly in shape, but also who would be potential contenders for the outdoor season. Daytona, by it?s true nature, is a whooped out sandy and rutted course on it?s best days, but on Saturday it was all that plus a quagmire. Mother Nature hadn?t been kind to Florida the days leading up to the race, and left the supercross track submerged in a soup of rain and mud.
Luckily, the rain was pumped away, leaving sand and dirt that would rut up simply by stepping on it. It was no secret that this race was going to be won in the trenches, and who better to win than two outdoor champions?
Many professional racers dream of putting down the fact that they won the Daytona supercross on their resume, but this dream became a blatant reality for Jeff Stanton when he won the event a record-setting four straight times. On Saturday, Ricky Carmichael had his eyes set on tying that nearly incomprehensible record by going for number four at Daytona. Not only that, it would be four straight wins in the supercross series, AND while riding his number four bike. Insane you might think, but that?s the way Ricky rode at Daytona. While taller riders tried to wade through the whoops, little Ricky pedaled with his Alpinestars around the track. Carmichael was on a mission, blazing through the field and lapping up to third place! Ricky, Chad Reed, and Tim Ferry were the only three riders on the lead lap by the end of the 20 lap main. Inconceivable, unbelievable, but true. It was an epic moment for Carmichael on the toughest track of them all, but for series contender Chad Reed it was a wake up call. Reed had RC in his sights early on, but after four laps Ricky pulled away and never looked back. It was nearly a wire to wire win for Ricky (Larry Ward barely got the holeshot) and he now leads Reed by a full supercross race in the point standings (235 to 210).
It was blatantly obvious in the 125 class who the hopefuls were to win; Branden Jesseman, Brock Sellards, and Mike Brown. Jesseman was riding on confidence as he had won two of the first three races. Sellards had a new lease on life, as evident by his win in Atlanta on the four stroke. Mike Brown has come close to winning twice this year, but just hasn?t had the odds in his favor. But put an outdoor-style track in front of Mike?s eyes and he drools. Brownie came from fifth off the start up to first on the third lap, only to be challenged by Jesseman.
Branden passed Mike on the fourth lap and started opening up a lead, but Jesseman became consumed by the very thing that have haunted many riders in the past. Just when things were going so well for the Motoworld/Suzuki rider, his front end washed out and he handed the lead back over to Brown. From then out, Mike Brown charged around the track with Jesseman only able to watch his first Daytona supercross win slip out of his hands. While all the excitement up front was happening, ?Shag Nasty? Shae Bentley rode extremely well and took his second consecutive podium finish.
It wasn?t any surprise that Ricky Carmichael won or that Mike Brown was the victor in the Florida sand. The real surprise was how RC made everyone else (except for Reed and Ferry) look like amateurs on a brutal track. Up on the podium Chad Reed sounded demoralized and stated that Ricky flat out beat him, which might be exactly what Ricky needs as the series hits its? final stretch. The 125 class will prove to be interesting, with five points separating first and second.
The Daytona race might have been camouflaged by leather and choppers, but bless the spectacle I saw as I was leaving the track?the one and only Evel Kneivel with a beautiful woman and matching checkered flag silk shirts. Viva Daytona bike week!
250 POINT STANDINGS
125 EAST RESULTS
125 EAST POINT STANDINGS