Daytona International Raceway
Well what can you say about Daytona…. Anyone that has ever raced at Daytona in any form knows how challenging this place is. It always seems that if it can go wrong it will at Daytona. In addition to being a race track that is unlike any other in the country, it is the season opener so no matter how ready you think that you are it always falls apart. This year was no exception.
As I always do I head out for Daytona a week early to attend the CCS races to get in some testing and shake the bikes down. For this season I have a friend and very competent mechanic Tom Campion wrenching on the bikes. This year at Daytona he was worth his weight in gold!! When you start having problems at the track what you need is someone who doesn’t get flustered and is highly skilled, that defines Tom in a nut shell.
Well throughout the entire CCS weekend I think that we managed to get a total of 20 laps or so total between the two bikes. We ran out of the normal VP fuel that we usually run and had to run another kind of fuel in the superbike which turned out to be a HUGE mistake. The fuel wound up melting the tips off all 4 sparks plugs, melting the pistons and cylinders. Apparently it wasn’t high enough octane for the engine and it must have been detonating. The bad thing is that I didn’t hear it because at Daytona the speed are so high and there is so much buffeting on the banking that you can barely hear the exhaust much less the engine. So Tom and I tore down the engine to find that it wasn’t repairable in time for the AMA weekend. So things are already starting off fantastic, we haven’t even made it to the AMA weekend and we are already down to 1 bike.
The AMA weekend began on Wednesday with practice and Superstock qualifying. The practice started off a bit slow but we were working on bike set up and making improvements which is what is important. By the end of Superstock qualifying we were 13th which put us 4th row. Definitely not what I was wanting, I was expecting to be on the first 2 rows. But admittedly I was being a bit cautions since we were down to one bike for the weekend.
Thursday was more practice, superbike qualifying, and the superstock race. By the end of superbike qualifying I was running consistently low 1:40’s by myself without a draft, for those of you who don’t know the draft at Daytona can be a full second. Later on that day was the Superstock race. The lights went green and I had a good start and charged hard thru the first few corners and was in the train with the leaders. After a couple laps I was in 7th still in touch with the leaders. At this point since no one was really getting away I was happy to just sit on the back of the pack and wait and conserve my tires until later in the race. Well as it turned out that was not the best decision to make. Some where near the half way point I was slammed into by David Anthony, this is his first season on a 1000. He hit me hard enough to break my lower and bend up my foot controls. Due to the impact I lost nearly 6 positions, and was furious because now the entire group had lost touch with the pack in front of us. Within 2 laps I was back past Anthony and was leading the group again but as hard as I tried without the draft I could not catch the next group. The last lap I made a mistake running thru the chicane and Jeff Wood was able to draft past me on the banking and I ended up 10th. Not a bad result considering the circumstances but not at all what I was expecting.
Friday we were off and just prepping bikes for superbike on Saturday. Saturday morning was another round of practice and later on the race. Early that morning the winds started to pick up and the Air fence and several hay bales were getting blown right onto the racetrack. The AMA decided for the safety of the riders to put the morning on hold. Later on that morning we were able to get in a quick warm up, even then it was VERY windy and difficult to ride. The schedule was changed around and the superbike race was moved to after the Daytona 200. One of my friends was racing in the 200 and I was supposed to be crewing for him but I was only able to do part of it since my race was now right afterwards. After the 200 the Superbike race went green and I managed another good start and was heading to the front. Every lap I was working up and kept me head down. By about half way I was on the tail of Chris Ulrich and Chris Peris. I was able to keep pace with them but could not manage to make a pass stick. I planned to make a last lap draft pass on Ulrich. I set him up perfectly and was right on him coming out of the chicane rubbing his rear tire with my front as we worked our way around the banking. As we hit the flats I tried to put my plan into action and drafted up closer and closer but as I came up on him and my bike would not draft past his. Every other time I had tried this on him my bike would draft up to and past him. I really am not sure what happened if his bike was just that fast, or if there was a rouge wind that upset the draft, or if something happened to cause my bike to spin excessively, I am not sure. The end result is that I finished right on his rear wheel at the line. 16th. Again a good result but not at all what I had planned.
So now I begin the rebuilding process for Barber. I have a test scheduled the weekend before at Miller Motorsports Park to shake the bikes down and work on some more electronics.
See you at the races