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Mar 13, 2015

Geoff May Takes Pole Position For 74th Daytona 200

Geoff May with his Project Mayday Yamaha YZF-R6 and Daytona 200 Arai Pole Position award at Daytona International Speedway. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

Geoff May went from being a factory rider in the FIM Superbike World Championship to riding a motorcycle that he bought and built himself with help from friends and fans, but made the most of his new situation Friday when he claimed the pole position for the 74th running of the Daytona 200.

May held the provisional pole position with a lap of 1:51.245 he did on his Dunlop-shod Project Mayday Yamaha YZF-R6 Friday morning.

Josh Herrin, another American rider returning from a disappointing 2014 season in World Championship competition, stole the top spot with a time of 1:50.641 on his Dunlop-equipped Wheels in Motion/ Yamaha YZF-R6 during the final qualifying session Friday afternoon.

Then in the closing moments of the final qualifying session, May combined a strong lap with a well-timed slipstream pass on another rider to capture the pole position with a time of 1:50.636.

“The draft is critical [at Daytona]. You’re not going to get it done by yourself,” May told “I saw [Steve] Rapp and [Bryce] Prince come around Turn One, so I sat up and waited. The [Dunlop qualifying] tires we use are a little softer, so we have to take it easy on the out lap on the first banking. And that allowed Rapp and Prince to gap me just enough.

“Coming out of NASCAR Four and into the tri-oval I timed Prince. As soon as he crossed the start/finish line I started counting, and he was four seconds out. I thought, ‘Man, if I put my head down I can get a tow off this guy.’ I just ran it into every corner as deep as I could on the brakes making up time. By the time we hit the chicane he was probably 100 yards out, and I knew that was it. I just absolutely nailed it perfect. I got in the slipstream and ran him down off NASCAR Four, which is honestly a little bit early.

“I knew it was a good lap. I saw my number go to the top of the [scoring pylon]. I didn’t know how close it was or even what I did. My lap timer’s not working for some reason. I was happy. I knew I had it at that point with how much time was left.”

Earning the pole position for the Daytona 200 was extra special for May because of the circumstances that led to him racing in the event.

“My career has gone up and down,” said May. “I’m out of a job racing right now. So I figured I would come to Daytona and remind everybody that I am a top rider and I do deserve a job. Times are tough in the industry, but I feel like I do have a place and I’m at the peak of my ability, the peak of my fitness and the peak of my knowledge. And I’m not ready to quit. So I came down here to put a stamp on it.

“Thanks to Daytona [International] Speedway and ASRA for coming together to put the race on and opening up the rules to multiple tire manufacturers. That allowed me to do it. Honestly, that was the key factor. If there was a spec tire and a spec fuel there’s no way I could have [gotten sponsorship from Dunlop and] come racing here. That eliminated a good $5000 I would have otherwise had to pay, which would have put me well beyond my budget.

“I don’t even have a trailer. I stuffed as much stuff into a van as I could and came down to Daytona to give it our best shot. It reminds me of my privateer days. But I’ve done it before. That’s how I earned my place in the AMA paddock, because I came up that way, going to the races in a van and earning sponsors. And that snowballed into getting my big break with John Ulrich and Team M4 Suzuki 11 seasons ago. So I know how to do it. I’ve been at it a long time. I’ve had good success. I think a lot of people have written me off just because the way the last couple of seasons have gone.

“I really wanted to come here and put it all together with a proper bike, a proper crew and give it an honest shot to win it.

“I’ve got to give the majority of the thanks to all the fans that actually paid for me to come down here. I reached out to my Facebook fan page and said, ‘Hey, I’m stuck without a ride this year. I don’t have anything. Does anyone know a sponsor who would be interested in backing me to create my own team?’ Some guys said to do this crowdfunding thing.

“I went online and looked into it, but I felt really bad about asking people for money. It’s different to ask companies for money than to ask people. I thought about it for a day, and I said, ‘Well, if I don’t do this I’m not going to race. I’m going to stay at home and I’m going to wish I went to Daytona because I know I have a good shot at it.

“I did it on this thing, and over a three-day weekend they donated over $4000. I was like, ‘OK, that’s enough money to pay the entry fee, rent the garage, get my license, buy fuel to get down there, pay the crew.’ I was willing to foot the rest of the bill myself at that point and gamble on this. And it kept snowballing and people kept donating. Even this morning a guy donated another $100. The fans really want to see me race. For me it’s very special that people care enough about motorcycle racing that they are willing to spend their own money to send me to Daytona.”

Herrin, the 2013 AMA Pro Superbike Champion and a former Daytona 200 winner, came up 0.005-second short of pole position and will start second. Stefano Mesa, the 2014 CCS Florida overall Champion, qualified third with a 1:51.246 on his Westside Performance Yamaha YZF-R6.

Danny Eslick, the 2014 Daytona 200 winner, earned a starting spot on row two with a lap of 1:51.290 on his TOBC Racing/Miracle Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R600. Barrett Long put in a string of quick laps on his speedy Longevity Racing Ducati 848 and ended up fifth at 1:51.309. Former Daytona 200 winner Steve Rapp was sixth-fastest with a time of 1:51.961 on his Tuned Racing Yamaha.

Regional ace Bruno Silva’s 1:52.549 on his ART Performance Yamaha YZF-R6 earned him the first position on row three. Lining up next to Silva will be Jason Farrell, who did a 1:52.810 on his Farrell Performance/U.S. Chrome Kawasaki ZX-6R, and Woodcraft/Penguin Racing Kawasaki’s Eric Wood (1:52.823).

Row four of the grid will be composed of Slovenia’s Bostjan Skubic (1:52.988) on his Inotherm Racing Yamaha, Rapp’s teammate Bryce Prince (1:53.567) and Yamaha’s Armando Ferrer (1:53.694).

The top six riders and 10 of the top 12 qualifiers were all on Dunlop tires. The two exceptions were Silva and Farrell, who used Pirellis.

A total of 53 riders posted qualifying times for the Daytona 200, which is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. local time Saturday, March 14.

74th Daytona 200 Sanctioned by ASRA

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

March 13, 2015

Provisional Combined Qualifying Results:

1. Geoff May (Yam YZF-R6), 1:50.636

2. Josh Herrin (Yam YZF-R6), 1:50.641

3. Stefano Mesa (Yam YZF-R6), 1:51.246

4. Danny Eslick (Suz GSX-R600), 1:51.290

5. Barrett Long (Duc 848), 1:51.309

6. Steve Rapp (Yam YZF-R6), 1:51.961

7. Bruno Silva (Yam YZF-R6), 1:52.549

8. Jason Farrell (Kaw ZX-6R), 1:52.810

9. Eric Wood (Kaw ZX-6/636R), 1:52.823

10. Bostjan Skubic (Yam YZF-R6), 1:52.988

11. Bryce Prince (Yam YZF-R6), 1:53.567

12. Armando Ferrer (Yam YZF-R6), 1:53.694

13. Scott Stall (Yam YZF-R6), 1:53.937

14. Carl Soltisz (Yam YZF-R6), 1:53.953

15. Charlie Long (Duc 848), 1:53.996

16. Ryan Jones (Hon CBR600RR), 1:54.051

17. Dustin Apgar (Yam YZF-R6), 1:54.154

18. David Sadowski, Jr. (Yam YZF-R6), 1:54.219

19. Ryan Christian (Yam YZF-R6), 1:54.351

20. Xavier Zayat (Yam YZF-R6), 1:54.518

21. Fernando Silva (Yam YZF-R6), 1:54.780

22. Seth Starnes (Yam YZF-R6), 1:54.885

23. Sean Dwyer (Yam YZF-R6), 1:54.970

24. Alan Slaney (Tri Daytona 675), 1:54.974

25. Jamie Patterson (Suz GSX-R600), 1:55.197

26. Kristofer Knopf (Yam YZF-R6), 1:55.888

27. Christian Meekma (Tri Daytona 675), 1:56.234

28. Darren James (Yam YZF-R6), 1:56.303

29. Tony Stomiolo (Kaw ZX-6R), 1:56.536

30. Arthur Aznavuryan (Yam YZF-R6), 1:56.918

31. George Letakis (Yam YZF-R6), 1:57.066

32. Daniel Spaulding (Yam YZF-R6), 1:57.091

33. Christian Crosslin (Suz GSX-R600), 1:57.385

34. Anthony Fania (Suz GSX-R600), 1:58.011

35. John Ashmead (Kaw ZX-6R), 1:58.102

36. Josh Gallusser (Suz GSX-R600), 1:58.682

37. Eric Pinson (Yam YZF-R6), 1:58.771

38. Charlie Mavros (Yam YZF-R6), 1:59.338

39. Patricia Fernandez (Yam YZF-R6), 1:59.811

40. Norman Pomerleau (Yam YZF-R6), 2:00.365

41. Darrin Klemens (Suz GSX-R600), 2:00.421

42. Gino Angella (Duc 848), 2:00.779

43. Eric Helmbach (Kaw ZX-6R), 2:01.681

44. Stuart Harper (Yam YZF-R6), 2:01.893

45. Joel Lenk (Yam YZF-R6), 2:02.838

46. Russ Intravartolo (Yam YZF-R6), 2:03.039

47. Jon Foy, 2:03.219

48. Andrew Abel (Suz GSX-R600), 2:05.237

49. Stephen Wilkins (Yam YZF-R6), 2:05.331

50. John T Blike, Jr. (Kaw ZX-6/636R), 2:05.597

51. Jeff Permanian (Yam YZF-R6), 2:06.121

52. Calvin Crosslin (Suz GSX-R600), 2:06.950

53. Robic Bright (Kaw ZX-6R), 2:14.462

54. Lance Yaeger (Kaw ZX-6/636R), no time recorded

55. David Sadowski, Sr. (Yam YZF-R6), no time recorded

56. Eric Haugo (Yam YZF-R6), no time recorded

More, from a press release issued by Daytona International Speedway:

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Geoff May is 34 years old, amid a professional motorcycle racing career that, he says, has “gone up and down.”

Friday was up.

Way up.

May, riding the No. 99 Yamaha, captured the pole position for Saturday’s 74th annual Daytona 200 American SportBike Racing Association (ASRA) event at Daytona International Speedway by a scant .005 seconds over No. 2 Meen Motorsports Yamaha rider Josh Herrin on the 3.51-mile road course. When Friday’s two qualifying sessions were complete, May’s best lap was 1 minute, 50.636 seconds compared to Herrin’s 1:50.641. Rounding out the top four are Stefano Mesa (No. 11 Yamaha) and defending Daytona 200 champion Danny Eslick (No. 69 Suzuki).

May posted his fast lap late in the second session. “I knew it was a good lap,” he said. “When I saw my number go to the top of the boards, I was happy. I knew I had [the pole]; with the amount of time left [in the session] nobody was going to best that. I’m over the moon.”

May, from Gainesville, Georgia, is out to prove a point this week. And he’s doing it the hard way, as in bare-bones, budget-wise. Much of May’s effort has been funded by fans, via an on-line campaign he initiated.

“We don’t even have a trailer,” he said. “We stuffed as much in a van as we could and rolled down to Daytona to give it our best shot. This reminds me of my privateer days. But I’ve done it before. That’s how I earned my way into the AMA paddock.

“This is my 16th year coming to Daytona. Overnight I’ve become a veteran. I’m out of a job racing right now; I wanted to come down to Daytona to remind people I’m still a top rider and I do deserve a job … I feel like I do have a place, I feel like I’m at the peak of my ability, fitness and knowledge. I’m not ready to quit. I came down here to put a stamp on things.”

Eslick, from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, started on the pole last year en route to winning the Daytona 200. His strategy is simple and based on last year, a recipe for success.

“Be there at the end,” Eslick said. “It’s a long race. You have to stay out of a first-turn pileup [early] when everybody’s antsy and trying to be a hero. Hopefully just hang tight and be there at the end.”

The 57-lap/200-mile Daytona 200 is set for 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday. For more information and tickets, visit or call 1-800-PITSHOP.

Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for the latest news all season long. Fans can also follow the latest on DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation at the “World Center of Racing” by using #DAYTONARising on Twitter or visiting

More, from a press release issued by JRi Shocks:

DAYTONA BEACH, FL. – Georgia rider Geoff May captured his first Daytona 200 pole position after posting a scorching lap near the end of the final qualifying session. For May, the excitement was not only for himself and his team, but also the numerous fans and businesses that have stepped up to make this possible.

“For sure I am excited, but really I am just as excited for all the fans and sponsors that donated cash, services, and products. I wouldn’t have been here without them, and I want to win not only for myself…but to thank all of the people and companies for their tremendous support,” stated May after earning pole position.

Geoff had an idea that he may want to compete in the events as early as the end of last season, but the effort really didn’t take shape until February. May’s fans suggested he start a effort, and within 4 weeks the effort became reality. Geoff’s first two days on track at the Daytona super speedway were nearly as magical as the effort to get him there.

Helping May turn this dream into reality was WAM Cycle’s William Meyers to crew chief this quickly constructed effort. Myers noted, “I was so pleased with all the people that Geoff and I put together for this Daytona 200…Carsten, Garrick, Tommy, Bob, and my dad Eric have all come together and worked so well. It makes my job so easy.”

Despite not completing assembly of his Yamaha R-6 to the point of passing tech until one hour before the first practice, May got out quick and was fastest as the first session began. May and the team were really encouraged as he was fastest a good part of the first session which was a relief to all the crew as well as Geoff.

The remaining sessions would see May quickest on his JRi Shocks, GP Suspension, and Livengood Motorsports equipped Yamaha R-6 until qualifying concluded. Geoff finished the day with a few more thoughts, ”My team has responded incredibly well this week. From fitting parts and getting the build right on the bike to the changes I needed to make things work even better ever session. I can’t think them enough.”

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