AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series Recap Daytona International Speedway
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 25, 2014) - The 2014 AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway lived up to all the hype. Billed as a certain barnburner before the XR1200s even took to the high banks, the seven-lap melee proved to be that and more.
Just how tight was it? Consider that .647 seconds covered the top 11 motorcycles at the checkered flag.
But as chaotic as it may have appeared at times, with stacked rows of riders repeatedly running four and five wide as they drafted around the legendary course, the end result was anything but random.
That fact was made evident by the final finishing order, which, as close as it was (a minuscule 0.068 seconds separated first from second), saw KWR/Millennium Technologies Harley-Davidson's Kyle Wyman claim his third Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series victory at Daytona in four tries.
Additionally, the runner-up spot was snared by Josh Chisum Racing/Bartels' Harley-Davidson's Tyler O'Hara, who won last year's race, edging Wyman by 0.075 in the '13 thriller.
Wyman was all smiles after returning the favor to O'Hara and reclaiming the top of the podium at Daytona.
"I knew it was going to be a 12-rider drafting war from start to finish," said Wyman. "It was just like last year's battle, and was going to come down to the last lap run from the chicane to the finish line. I can barely remember what happened in those closing stages, but apparently it worked out again for me."
Second-placed O'Hara was gracious in defeat: "It was awesome. Everybody wants to win Daytona. I was fortunate to win it last year, but came up just a little bit short this year. Kyle rode awesome and everybody rode really clean. It's a little bit of luck and little bit something else to get the job done here. The race was a lot of fun. When they're like that they go quick. You're having fun and you're in the moment and you're racing hard every lap. That's what we live for."
Folsom Harley-Davidson's Gage McAllister emerged from the pack to round out the podium in third, a further 0.04 seconds adrift.
After the slugfest the up-and-comer said, "It was a pretty great ride -- there were a ton of people up front. I was just trying to stay in the right position for the last lap. I kind of found myself toward the front; I was looking to be a bit further back but I still got a good run down the back straightaway.
"It was a great race. I was super nervous going into it but as soon as the green flag went I was ready to go."
Fellow Wisconsintes Nick Hansen and Ben Carlson piloted their Suburban Harley-Davidsons to the final two positions in the top five.
Aerostar Global-backed Hansen battled his way from seventh up into second to open the final lap, but he was dropped one position off the box in the hectic final scramble.
Carlson came home fifth after leading the race during its early stages.
OPR/Liberty Chevrolet's Eric Stump finished sixth and stood as the last man to displace one-time class champ Danny Eslick on the Ruthless Racing Harley-Davidson XR1200.
Eslick managed to take the white flag in the lead and made a last-gasp attempt to break away. However, he was denied in that effort, steamrolled by a swarming pack of XRs as the field powered around the banking for the final time. The Oklahoman was forced to accept seventh, a semi-bitter pill made much easier to swallow by his triumphant DAYTONA 200 performance the following day.
Chili Pepper Racing Harley-Davidson's Hayden Schultz took the checkered flag in eighth with his one-off Daytona teammate, Michael Barnes, a further position behind in ninth.
16-year-old Schultz found himself just 0.252 seconds off an AMA Pro victory but with only eighth-place points to show for it. He said of his eventful ride, "I got an okay start, but I was a little behind the lead pack of guys. I eventually ran them down on the last lap. I ended up in the big cluster of guys at the front and finished eighth. I'm happy to know that I can run with those guys, and that I had a shot at the podium. I'm really excited for the next rounds at real road courses where I can show my skills in the corners."
2012 AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series champion Barnes said, "I led for a while, and I felt like I was in a good position on the last lap, but this goes to show you how things can go at Daytona. I've won a lot of races here, and there are so many things that can happen in the last half of the last lap before the finish line. I got blocked on the run to the flag, but I had a great time riding with friends. I've got to thank Chili Pepper, Paul Diener, Elvis Johns and Brett Singer for all their help this weekend."
Longevity Racing Harley-Davidson's Barrett Long completed the top ten while Thrashed Bike Racing Harley-Davidson's David Estok was the unfortunate rider who was just 0.647 seconds behind race-winner Wyman but outside the top ten.
That said, the defending AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series champ, Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson's Steve Rapp, would have gladly taken 11th-place points. Rapp started the race from pole but saw his Daytona bid come to a close prematurely for a second consecutive year. After completing just a single lap a year ago and finishing in 24th -- last among all starters, the Californian only managed three laps this time around with the exact same result -- 24th and at the very back of the field.
Last season, Rapp managed to recover and secure the first #1 plate of his AMA Pro Road Racing career. The veteran ace will look to quickly regroup and pull another rabbit out of his hat. He'll get his next shot at the Subway SuperBike Doubleheader at Road America, where he was simply magical last season.
Round 2 will take place in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on May 30-June 1.
How to Watch
FansChoice.tv will be the official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Road Racing and AMA Pro Flat Track events in 2014. The site will also provide coverage of IMSA's development and single-make series, and NASCAR's touring and weekly series.
About AMA Pro Road Racing
AMA Pro Road Racing is the premier motorcycle road racing series in North America and is universally regarded as one of the most competitive road racing organizations in the world. The series is comprised of four production-based classes: AMA Pro SuperBike, AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, AMA Pro SuperSport and the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series. Learn more about AMA Pro Road Racing at www.amaproracing.com/rr/.
AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at www.amaproracing.com.