AMA PRO RACING:
Larry Pegram (No. 72 Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing Ducati 1098R) dominated the AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited race in the Tornado Nationals presented by BriggsAuto.com at Heartland Park Topeka. Today’s racing action can be seen in a same-day delay telecast at 10:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT) on SPEED.
After winning his first pole since 1996 in Friday’s Superpole qualifying, Pegram took the lead at the race start and was never seriously challenged in the American Superbike race. He crossed the finish line 2.184 seconds ahead of Ben Bostrom (No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) and Blake Young (No. 79 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) finished third.
“For me, it’s just validation,” said Pegram, who also won earlier this season at Road America. “Here we beat everybody again, and I proved to myself I can win at this level because I had lost a lot of confidence over the years riding bikes that weren’t capable of winning. You start to wonder if it might be you, but I always knew at the bottom of my heart that I could win races, especially if I got on a great motorcycle like this Ducati 1098R.”
Bostrom stayed in front of the tight group of riders that also included Young, his teammate Tommy Hayden (No. 22 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) and Aaron Yates (No. 23 Brand Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) that battled in the top five throughout the race.
“It’s a great track, and there are passing spots here believe it or not,” said Bostrom, who finished second for the second consecutive race and third time this year. “The bike was fantastic, and the R1 did a good job. The rider just kind of sat on it and rode, and I was hoping to obviously race for the win. I did think I could catch Larry. Blake and I had a bit of a battle going, and Larry jumped out there and put in really, really fantastic laps. We can’t let him do that for the next one, and tomorrow’s a new day. We will just start again tomorrow. I am pretty much over second place already.”
Young was in the thick of the battle for the final podium spot throughout the race and was under heavy pressure from Hayden and Yates in the closing laps.
“We just ran out of time a little bit,” said Young. “I wish we would have got more time on the bike. I think we missed the set up a little bit, but today was a really good race. We jumped in behind Ben, learned what he was doing and made some improvements. I switched up my riding style a little bit and tried to help the bike out as much as I could. I am happy with the way the race went. We learned a lot today on our setup and what to do for tomorrow. So I am going to chalk this one up and go after it twice as hard tomorrow.”
Hayden finished fourth and Yates completed the top five.
Sunday’s American Superbike final will close the Tornado Nationals weekend at 4 p.m.
Danny Eslick (No. 9 GEICO Powersports/RMR Buell 1125R) charged from 10th on the grid straight to the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL championship lead with a strong victory he and the Richie Morris Racing team dedicated to the late Bruce Rossmeyer, who died in a motorcycle accident earlier this week. Eslick has now won six Daytona SportBike races this year and has regained the points lead for the first time since Road Atlanta, currently 18 points ahead of nearest rival Martin Cardenas (No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600). Today’s racing action can be seen in a same-day delay telecast at 10:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT) on SPEED.
“It was really unfortunate about the passing of Bruce Rossmeyer and we dedicate this win to him,” Eslick said. “He was a great guy and our teammate. The family said ‘go win a championship for us,’ so this is the first step.”
After a complete restart following an opening race incident, Eslick immediately began to charge through the field. He took the lead for the first time with a power move past Superpole winner Jason DiSalvo (No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) in the fast run out of the front straight on Lap 8. Eslick stayed up front through the race’s halfway point but was soon challenged by Cardenas. Eslick and Cardenas, who has held the points lead for the majority of the season, swapped the lead several times in the final laps only to see Cardenas slide off course in second on Lap 18. From there Eslick was never again seriously challenged as he charged to his third straight victory.
“I glanced back and Martin was all over me and that was pretty close to the end,” Eslick said. “I did a couple of really good motocross block passes, and I think I was going slow enough I could have put my foot down. It was 100% clean, he raced me clean and we never touched once. That’s the race I’ve been looking for all year, to be the points leader and all that. Martin’s a heck of a guy, a great rider and I wish it wouldn’t have ended that way because that would have been a heck of a battle to the checkered flag.”
Eslick crossed the finish line 1.810 seconds ahead of Josh Herrin (No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6) who was closely followed by his teammate Tommy Aquino (No. 6 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6).
“I thought I was going to be able to catch him,” Herrin said. “I found out a real strong point coming on to the front straightaway that I’ll be able to use tomorrow. At the end of the race I wasn’t riding defensive, I just rode my race. I’ve had a few races recently where I rode defensive and it didn’t pay off, so I just rode my line and took it to the finish line. We started reeling in Danny a little bit but it wasn’t enough for the end of the race. I have to congratulate Tommy, and the Buell guys for another win. We’ll come back strong tomorrow.”
Aquino, who led the first two laps, finished third for the second consecutive race, his best finish of the season.
“That was the first time I’ve led a race,” Aquino said. “Jason seemed to be going a little slow in the beginning so I made a pass really quick. It was just, like, riding by myself, which is really what I like to do – to go out there with nobody ahead of me and put down some laps. I just made a little mistake and let Jason by and after that a couple more people passed me. I settled in, got with the pace, passed who I needed to pass and it was good. I’m really enjoying where I’m at right now. I really have to thank all my guys.”
Chaz Davies (No. 57 Factory Aprilia /Millennium Technologies Team Aprilia RSV1000R) finished fourth for his sixth top-five result of the year while Bobby Fong (No. 51 Paradigm Racing Yamaha YZF-R6) finished fifth. It was the best result of the year for Fong and the Paradigm team that also finished sixth in the Daytona 200 with Barrett Long.
DiSalvo also went off course while running second to Eslick on Lap 10 but recovered to finish sixth.
A post-race protest was filed against the winning Daytona SportBike and it was determined in a review by AMA Pro Racing officials that Eslick passed for the lead in Turn 6 under a waving yellow flag. The area of the incident was also covered by a standing yellow flag at the corner workers’ stations that Eslick failed to obey. He has been fined half of this weekend’s final race purse and will be docked 10 championship points. Eslick currently leads the Daytona SportBike standings 296 – 288 over Cardenas.
Sunday’s Daytona SportBike final goes off at 2 p.m. local time.