Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway more than 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.
Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.
Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network.
Contact Adam: Email
With one of the most decorated nostalgia Nitro Funny Car fields ever assembled on the property, it was IHRA newcomer and Grand Blanc, Michigan native Shawn Bowen making the first move, propelling the "Violator" 1977 Pontiac Firebird Nitro Funny Car to the top of the charts at the IHRA Summer Nationals at Cordova Dragway Park.
Cary Goforth (Pro Stock), Mike Scott (Nitro Harley), Mike Hilsabeck (Nitro Altered) and Marisha Falk (Jet Dragster) also topped qualifying in their respective classes Friday in Cordova.
Bowen put down a stout lap in the first round of qualifying Friday night, rocketing to the top of the charts with a 5.819-second pass at 251.02 miles per hour to put the 2013 DRO champion in the No. 1 position entering eliminations on Saturday. Current IHRA points leader and four-time IHRA national event winner Jason Rupert qualified second in the Bays and Rupert "Black Plague" '69 Camaro with a 5.853 at 243.63 mph.
Mark Sanders, in the "Mr. Explosive" '69 Mustang, was third with a 5.880 at 244.25, while Paul Romine and John Hale rounded out the top five. Former IHRA Top Fuel world champion Bruce Litton snuck into the field in his final qualifying attempt to place sixth on the ladder, joining 2010 IHRA Funny Car champion Steve Nichols and Mike McIntire Jr. as the final drivers in the eight-car field.
Five drivers failed to make the field, including IHRA regular Tim Boychuk and heavy-hitter Marc White.
Cary Goforth, from Holdenville, Oklahoma, paced IHRA's Mountain Motor Pro Stock class on Friday, driving the Dean's Casing Service 2013 Chevrolet Camaro to the top spot on the ladder with a 6.254-second pass at 222.91 mph. Two-time IHRA Pro Stock champion Pete Berner qualified second with a 6.338 at 220.98 and Dean Goforth was third with a 6.357 at 218.72.
In Nitro Harley, Canadian Mike Scott led the way with a 6.617-second pass at 180.24 mph. Alvin Kobernusz, from nearby Manly, Iowa, was second with a 7.103 at 187.50 and Rocky Jackson was third.
Rounding out the nitro categories was Nitro Altered as Arizona native Mike Hilsabeck drove the aptly named "Arizona Thunder" to the top spot with a 6.738 at 157.61. Troy Martin was second with a 6.813 at 185.69 and Kyle Hough was third.
Finally, Marisha Falk was quickest in IHRA's Jet Dragster category with a 5.791-second pass at 276.41 mph, just edging Elaine Larsen and her 5.816 at 275.45.
The IHRA Summer Nationals at Cordova Dragway Park will continue on Saturday with final eliminations for all professional classes with the Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series and first day action of the Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by AMSOIL.
Robby Gordon edged TRAXXAS-driver Sheldon Creed on the final lap of practice Friday to set the fastest lap in qualifying for Saturday’s first of two Formula Off-Road Presented by TRAXXAS races at the Honda Indy Toronto.
Although Gordon, driving the SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires/TRAXXAS truck, set the quickest time in the session, he will not start on the pole for the 2:20 p.m. race Saturday given that he will draw a number from a hat during tomorrow’s pre-race driver’s meeting to determine how many rows in the eight-truck field will be inverted for the start. It is guaranteed, however, that he and Creed will start alongside each other when they get the green flag, but it is yet to be determined whether it will be row two, three or four.
Scotty Steele, who like Creed is 16-years-old, was third quickest following by Toronto’s Paul Tracy, Aaron Bambach and Bill Hynes. X Games gold medalist Apdaly Lopez, who also won earlier this year at Indianapolis, crashed in the first corner of the first lap of practice and did not record a lap time. The final spot in the field will be filled by Long Beach, California’s Nick Vanis who was delayed in his travels to Toronto due to a family illness.
The eight trucks will navigate the same 11-turn 1.755-mile (2.84 km) circuit as the IndyCar series, however, the trucks will also negotiate four man-made metal jumps placed strategically along the circuit’s front stretch.
NBCSN will broadcast the race at 10 p.m. PDT on July 31 (1 a.m. EDT Aug. 1). Following its trip to Toronto, the series will shift to the west coast for its final three races of the 2014 season at the Sand Sport Super Show in Orange County, Calif. Sept. 19-20; the Coronado Speed Festival Sept. 21 and in Las Vegas in conjunction with the SEMA Show in early November.
The Stadium Super Trucks that will race in Toronto will hit huge man-made ramps at more than 100 mph at multiple locations throughout the downtown street circuit hurling drivers nearly 20 feet in the air and 150 feet down course. The series features identically prepared trucks which are made to resemble their scaled-down Traxxas radio-control-car counterparts. Like their Traxxas namesake the trucks are designed to take flight. However, unlike RC trucks, they produce 600 horsepower generating speeds upwards of 130 miles per hour and race on DOT approved Toyo Tires.
TORONTO (July 18, 2014) - Chris Green, Spencer Pigot and Scott Hargrove continued to be interchangeable parts of speed in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin, as Green led his two championship rivals during practice Friday, July 18 on the Streets of Toronto.
Green, from Montreal, turned the quickest overall lap during the two 30-minute practices, 1 minute, 13.147 seconds, during the afternoon session in the No. 9 Pfaff MotorsportsPorsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
"The Pfaff Castrol car was fantastic," Green said. "I couldn't have asked for a better car today. There's room to grow, but it's putting us where we need to be for tomorrow, and the confidence is sky-high. The Michelins were fantastic. A really, really good tire."
Pigot, from Orlando, Florida, was second at 1:13.486 in the No. 21 Alegra MotorsportsPorsche, followed by Hargrove at 1:13.703 in the No. 69 OpenRoad Racing entry. Pigot was the quickest in the morning practice at 1:14.124, followed by Green and Hargrove.
Hargrove leads the single-make Porsche series, 78-74, over Green after four of 10 rounds this season. Pigot is third with 54 points.
"The focus is to do the best we can," Green said. "Scott is going to be quick. I know he's going to be fast. We're here to present a good battle, a good fight. I'm looking at it race by race."
The trio has dominated the premium Platinum Cup (2014 model cars) this season. Hargrove and Green have occupied the top two spots on the podium in all four rounds this season, with Hargrove winning three races and Green one. Pigot has finished third in three of four rounds.
They are expected to battle for the pole during qualifying at 7:30 a.m. (ET) Saturday, July 19 and in two 45-minute races this weekend as the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin is a featured part of the Honda Indy Toronto Verizon IndyCar Seriesweekend.
Round 5 is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Saturday, with Round 6 at 1:20 p.m. Sunday on the 11-turn, 1.75-mile temporary street circuit around Exhibition Place. This is the first time the series has competed in Canada's largest city.
Marco Cirone, from Toronto, was the leading Platinum Masters (age 45 and older) driver in practice Friday at 1:14.017 in the No. 88 Mark Motors Racing Porsche. Cirone leads the Platinum Masters standings as he aims for his second consecutive season championship in the class.
Jerimy Daniel, from Candiac, Quebec, led Gold Cup (2010-13 model cars) drivers at 1:15.240 in the No. 75 TRC Porsche. Tim Sanderson, from Pickering, Ontario, was the top Gold Masters driver at 1:15.510 in the No. 07 Alegra Motorsports/Northwest Atlantic Motorsports car.
Chuck Harris, from Tampa, Florida, paced the Silver Cup (2005 ½-2009 model cars) at 1:21.158 in the No. 50 Alegra Motorsports 911 GT3 Cup car.
For more information on the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin, visit www.imsa.com and @IMSA on Twitter with the hashtag #GT3CAN. Live commentary for both races will be provided on Twitter at @IMSALive.
CHRIS GREEN (No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports, first, Platinum Cup): "It was a question of managing traffic. The pit crew was on the radio with me and said you have clear track, try to put something together. I wouldn't say it was a perfect lap, by any means. A lot to improve on. But the Pfaff Castrol car was fantastic. I couldn't have asked for a better car today. There's room to grow, but it's putting us where we need to be for tomorrow, and the confidence is sky-high. The Michelins were fantastic. A really, really good tire." (Have you raced on this track?): "I ran here 12 years ago in Barber Dodge Pro Series. I remember nothing. It's a long, long time ago. Basically learning a new track today." (How important is it to try and gain ground on Scott Hargrove this weekend?): "I don't think this weekend is more important than any other one we have coming up. The focus is to do the best we can. Scott is going to be quick. I know he's going to be fast. We're here to present a good battle, a good fight. I'm looking at it race by race."
JERIMY DANIEL (No. 75 TRC Porsche, first, Gold Cup): (About how previous experience in Pro Mazda at this track helped today): "It helped me know the corners, the layout of the track, but it didn't help me learn the track with this car. It's twice the weight, and Star Mazda is more grippy, with more downforce. So it's really, really different. You've got to learn to drive again. When you get on the track, you just remember doing it in Star Mazda. It's really hard to get used to it. That's why this morning I was not pushing. We had a little problem with the steering. Now we fixed it, and this afternoon it was really good with new tires." (About bouncing back after tough weekend at Calabogie): "My goal is just to finish the race. Whether I finish first or second or third, I'll be happy. It's important for me to be back on top because I want to make my name, my place in this kind of car. It's important for me to finish the race."
Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin
The IMSA Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin produces intense, exciting competition for semi-professional and aspiring professional drivers in one of the world's most successful and iconic race cars, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The series is one of Porsche's global single-make Cup Challenge series and is the perfect platform for aspiring drivers to ascend to the highest levels of GT competition, such as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The 10-round series races in 2014 at four classic Canadian road and street courses, providing thrills for drivers and fans.
The International Motor Sports Association, LLC (IMSA) is the sanctioning body of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the road-racing series resulting from the merger of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. IMSA also sanctions the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, as well as four single-make series: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama; Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin; Ferrari Challenge North America; and Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America. IMSA is the exclusive strategic partner in North America with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) which operates the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The partnership enables selected TUDOR United SportsCar Championship competitors to earn automatic entries into the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The opening half of the 2014 AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series has featured four different winners in as many races. And now with four races to go, the championship picture is starting to come into focus as AMA Pro Road Racing arrives at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend.
2010 AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series champ Danny Eslick on the No. 69 Ruthless Racing Harley-Davidson XR1200 has assumed the points lead after claiming his first victory of the season last Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. After getting caught up in the last-lap shuffle in the series opener at Daytona International Speedway - where he ended up crossing the line in sixth - the hard-charging Oklahoman has finished no lower than second. He actually hit the stripe second again last weekend after registering a measured ride to the win, well aware that the disappearing Steve Rapp and his No. 1 Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson XR1200 had been hit with a ten-second penalty for jumping the start. Eslick is looking to score a clear victory this weekend and open up a commanding championship lead heading into the season's final three races.
"I think everybody expected me to just come in and win and it just shows that these guys have been busting their butts and riding these Harleys really hard," Eslick said. "They're definitely not the easiest bikes to get around a racetrack. When you get up to the pace Steve and some of these other guys are going, it makes it pretty tough. It's a lot of fun. It's not the way I wanted to win it - by penalty - but a 'W' is a 'W', and we need the points. We'll definitely take the money and move on to Mid-Ohio."
Rapp, meanwhile, has found his form in terms of sheer pace, but his odds of claiming a repeat championship are growing ever longer. Last week's penalty resulted in a ten-point swing and he no longer controls his own destiny. Currently fifth and trailing Eslick by 38 points, even if Rapp sweeps the last four races of the season, he'll need Eslick to average worse than third in order to successfully repeat. Despite the mistakes and misfortune that have left him in such a precarious championship position, Rapp remains the man to beat on any given weekend, as evidenced by his breakaway speed at the most recent two rounds. The Californian won at Mid-Ohio last season, but it came following a tight fight for the win in contrast to his more common jailbreak-style escapes at the front.
"I just wanted to get a good start and try to build up a lead if I could and it looked like everything was going as planned," Rapp said of his Monterey runner-up performance. "I didn't know the penalty was for me. I wasn't really aware of what was going on, I was riding as if there was nothing going on. The bike was good and the tires felt great. Everything felt pretty good overall."
Even though there have been four winners in four races, Kyle Wyman, pilot of the No. 33 KWR/Millennium Technologies Harley-Davidson XR1200, is the only man besides Rapp to have taken the checkered flag first this season. His Daytona disqualification handed the season-opening victory over to Tyler O'Hara on the No. 29 Josh Chisum Racing/Bartels Harley-Davidson XR1200. Wyman successfully bounced back to win at Road America, but crashed out the following weekend at Barber Motorsports Park. He continued his rollercoaster ride of a 2014 season by rebounding to claim the final spot on the box last weekend. Wyman is hoping to end that up-and-down trend by backing up one strong race with another - this time at the closest thing he has to a home track on the tour.
"Mid-Ohio is actually the closest AMA track to my home in New York," Wyman said. "I'm looking forward to some better track familiarity and this short week to rest my knee. I feel I will be 100 percent by Saturday morning and ready to make a charge."
O'Hara, meanwhile, is hoping to reclaim the championship lead he had maintained all season until being displaced by Eslick last weekend California. The perennial title contender, who is now second in the points and eleven back of first, has been uncharacteristically quiet as of late, stringing together three consecutive fourth place results. While he's been both quick and consistent, he'll be plenty motivated to get back on the box this weekend at Mid-Ohio.
Ben Carlson on the No. 45 Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson XR1200 and Gage McAllister aboard the No. 51 Folsom Harley-Davidson XR1200 remain championship dark horses, currently ranked third and fourth, respectively. With a fifth for Carlson and a seventh for McAllister, the two suffered their worst races of the season last weekend in Monterey. Fortunately, they won't have to stew long with an opportunity for redemption rapidly upon them.
Meanwhile, up-and-comers Nick Hansen, riding the No. 97 Aerostar Global Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson XR1200, and Hayden Schultz on the No. 59 Chili Pepper Racing Harley-Davidson XR1200 are just behind Wyman in the order in seventh and eighth, respectively.
"Steve and Danny pulled away from our group, but we kept passing and re-passing each other," Schultz said. "I could pass in a few corners, but just couldn't make them stick for a whole lap. On the last lap, I pushed hard into the last turn, and tried to get a good drive, but I got kicked out of the seat and lost some time on the guy ahead of me."
Ryan Kerr on the No. 28 Ryan Kerr Racing XR1200, the last man in the championship top ten, is excited about the prospects of performing in front of his home crowd this weekend. Hailing from nearby Johnstown, Ohio, Kerr is coming off an excellent sixth place run, which equaled his best result of 2014.
"The weekend was full of ups and downs but overall it was good," Kerr said. "The race was a battle and I am happy with my sixth-place finish and even more thrilled with my lap times. My times prove that I can ride with the leaders and become a top competitor in this series.
The AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series will first take to the track on Saturday at 10:20 a.m. local time (7:20 a.m. PT) for their opening practice. The 11-lap race will get underway at 12:15 p.m. Sunday afternoon (9:15 a.m. PT).
FansChoice.tv is the official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Road Racing and AMA Pro Flat Track events in 2014. The site also provides coverage of IMSA's development and single-make series, and NASCAR's touring and weekly series.
AMA Pro SuperSport returns to the card at Mid-Ohio and the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend. With 50 riders pre-entered, the competition will be hot and heavy once again in the class for tomorrow's stars and today's fast club aces. While the class wasn't featured in the event, some of the top talent in AMA Pro SuperSport raced last weekend in California, AMA Pro allowed some of the top SuperSport talent to jump up a class to GoPro Daytona SportBike for the weekend.
The top SuperSport finisher in Monterey was Kaleb De Keyrel on the No. 51 De Keyrel Racing Yamaha YZF-R6. The 17-year-old carried the momentum of a double podium at Barber Motorsports Park into California and fought inside a tough pack vying for tenth place in the race. The fast teen finished a respectable 17th, leading a pack of AMA Pro SuperSport regulars including Jason Aguilar aboard the No. 96 Tuned Racing Yamaha YZF-R6, Erick Sanchez on the No. 64 EYK Racing Yamaha YZF-R6, and Miles Thornton, pilot of the No. 72 D&D Castrol Triumph Daytona 675.
De Keyrel has been building momentum in his recent SuperSport races. He's finished in the top five four times in a row, including two third place results in Alabama. The Californian is in a good spot. Finding the speed to run with the class' top competitors has enhanced his learning curve as he has gotten some up-close schooling. De Keyrel will get two more chances to show what he's got and perhaps learn some more at Mid-Ohio. He's currently fifth in points in a very close championship.
At the front of the chase, Corey Alexander on the No. 5 Celtic/HVMC Racing Suzuki GSX-R600 and Hayden Gillim aboard the No. 69 TOBC Racing Suzuki GSX-R600 are tied for the lead at 141 points. Alexander holds the first tiebreaker (overall wins) but with four races to go, it is unlikely things will stay the same over the last two events in this unpredictable class. Alexander had a bit of a disappointing national the last time out at Barber, notching a 13th and a fourth - well below the early season form that saw him win three races and earn a strong second place that was a wheel short of another victory.
In Alabama, the twisty course didn't do any favors for the rider who has been dealing with a shoulder injury since Round 2 at Road America, but there has been substantial recovery time for one of the most experienced class competitors.
Gillim, like Alexander, did not race in California. The Kentuckian has built momentum as he has adjusted to a new team and motorcycle in 2014. Known as a "streak" rider, Gillim can be unbeatable on his day and he will, no doubt, be looking to add to his win total in Ohio. For Gillim, a streak of five podiums in a row has put him back in the championship picture despite Alexander's prowess. Both Suzuki pilots will be tested in the two-day race format that requires getting up to speed quickly and not making any mistakes, like crashes or mechanical issues, along the way.
Just behind the dynamic duo is another class star. Dustin Dominguez and his No. 68 HSBK Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 won the last race in Alabama and are just 12 points behind heading into Ohio. With four rounds left, the Oklahoman still controls his own destiny. Winning races nets the victor a five-point margin over second place in AMA Pro scoring, so Dominguez can close that gap quickly with race victories. Of course, that is easier said than done.
Lurking fourth in points is Wyatt Farris on the No. 19 Celtic/HVMC Racing Suzuki GSX-R600. Farris has been the adventure man so far in 2014 AMA Pro SuperSport, usually finding himself in a tough and entertaining battle on the circuit. Farris had been entrenched in the top five at every race this year until Alabama, where he earned seventh and 12th place results. The Californian was better than everyone but Alexander at Daytona, so he has it in him to run up front and become a large factor in the last four races of the year. Farris has a 15-point gap on De Keyrel for fourth in the championship standings.
Class rookie Aguilar has done well as he learns the tracks this year. He is the only rider besides Gillim and Dominguez to finish in the top ten in each AMA Pro SuperSport race this year. After his taste of the podium in Wisconsin, the Californian will no doubt be looking to get back on the box and improve his sixth place in the points, too.
The next three spots in the championship are highly contested as well. Texan J.C. Camacho on the No. 623 Camacho Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 has three points in hand over Cody Wyman and his No. 3 Harv's Harley-Davidson Racing Yamaha YZF-R6, so fans should keep their eyes on that battle this weekend. Mexico's Sanchez is just six points back of Wyman and coming off his best result of the year - a fifth place at Barber.
Thornton is tenth in points and has struggled a bit this year. However, Mid-Ohio is a good circuit for the Georgian. The 20-year-old earned pole position and two second place finishes in last year's races, so he clearly knows what it takes to go fast around Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
There won't be much time to waste in AMA Pro SuperSport as qualifying begins at 8 a.m. (5 a.m. PT) on Saturday. The first of the 15-lap finals begins at 2:10 p.m. (11:10 a.m. PT) on Saturday. Sunday's race will fire off on the 2.4-mile course at 1:10 p.m. (10:10 a.m. PT).
FansChoice.tv is the official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Road Racing and AMA Pro Flat Track events in 2014. The site also provides coverage of IMSA's development and single-make series, and NASCAR's touring and weekly series.
This weekend, the Red Bull Ring in Austria will host the third round of the European Le Mans Series, and marks the first time since the new Balance of Performance (BoP) figures that were released in June that they will be fully implemented in competition.
The only change in LMGTE is to the Ferrari 458 which has had the 2 engine restrictors reduced by 1.3mm. The BoP figures for the Aston Martin Vantage and Porsche GT3 RSR are unchanged.
There are several changes to the GTC BoP, which is based on the FIA GT3 regulations. The cars affected by the changes are Audi R8 (+3mm engine restrictors), the BMW Z4 (-40kg), the Porsche 911 GT3R (-30kg), the Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (-2mm engine restrictors) and the McLaren MP4-12C (Turbo boost pressure). Some adjustments on the refueling restrictors have also been implemented in order to balance the refueling time of the different model of cars.
ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil explains the reasons behind the changes.
Q: How is the data collected that determine the changes made last month to the BoP figures?
We look at the lap times, we take into account the level of the drivers, weather conditions, consistency of the car. This process has proven in the past that it is efficient. The WEC process is much more complex, more expensive and requires more human resource and equipment. In the ELMS we are in a customer car championship in which the teams and drivers must make the difference, our goal is to give a chance to everyone on the potential of their car, then it is up to the drivers and the team to do the job!
Q: The GTC BoP is based on the FIA GT3 Balance of Performance. How do the ACO adapt the BoP for the European Le Mans Series or are they implemented without change?
Generally we add 40kg on all GT3 cars to maintain the gap with GTE (GT3 cars are much less technical but more powerful than a GTE car) except a few ones that do not need it. Then we make decisions based on the information we collect from each race weekend, which is new. Before Imola the principle was to strictly apply the FIA BoP and add 40kg to each car. But there is no more FIA GT3 Championship and it was clear that in that condition the FIA BoP would not be updated in the way we need. Then we have decided to make some changes on this BoP ourselves. We use race data but also we look at what is done in the other GT3 championships because it gives a good idea of the level of each car.
Q: Will there be any further updates to the BoP in 2014?
Any time it is needed we will update the BoP.
New BoP details
The 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring will begin on Saturday 19 June with Free Practice sessions, with the qualifying and race on Sunday 20 June. Full information on the weekend can be found on the official website at www.europeanlemansseries.com
The AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike season got a little crazier last weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and the Mid-Ohio races should amp things up even more. The Buckeye SuperBike Weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course sees a tighter championship and the streak of a different rider taking charge at each round is on the line.
With just four races left in 2014, 24 points separate the top five riders and the ultracompetitive class is yet to disappoint. Last weekend, Jake Lewis took his first GoPro Daytona SportBike win on his No. 85 MotoSport.com/Meen Yamaha YZF-R6 at Laguna Seca, hammering out a tough triumph from the front. Lewis had been knocking on victory's door the past couple of seasons and was finally able to achieve the feat and answer questions of when he would take the next step.
On Friday, Lewis was quickest, but in final qualifying, he dropped to fifth. A great start put him back at the front and he led all 20 laps of the sole AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race in California.
"Qualifying fifth, I was a little bit disappointed with that, but I knew it was going to be a heck of a race," said Lewis. "I was sitting on the grid thinking, 'I'm going to win this race,' because last year I was so close to winning. I got off to a good start, went into the lead in turn 2 and never looked back. That's been my weakness throughout my career - looking back - so I just put my head down and stayed focused and clicked off lap after lap and got into a good rhythm and brought home the win."
Lewis jumped to within five points of Jake Gagne and his No. 32 RoadRace Factory/Red Bull Yamaha YZF-R6 for the points lead and the Kentuckian caries momentum into Mid-Ohio.
Gagne came up short at Laguna Seca in his race-long battle with Danny Eslick, pilot of the No. 69 Riders Discount Racing Triumph Daytona 675R, for the final spot on the podium. The Californian made numerous attempts at a pass, but he couldn't make anything stick, and an especially racy Eslick wasn't to be denied.
Gagne lost points to both Lewis and Eslick (now nine points back) but his consistently excellent season has earned him a small margin in the point standings. If a fourth place result is a "down" race for the points leader, it only shows how good Gagne has been in 2014.
Eslick opened the season on fire with the DAYTONA 200 victory. While he has earned valuable points with solid finishes this year, his spirited riding at Laguna Seca put him back on the podium for the first time since March. With the twisty Mid-Ohio course sharing some characteristics with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Eslick and Triumph could once again fight for the podium. With two previous crowns in the class, Eslick's presence can't be ignored.
JD Beach aboard the No. 6 Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha YZF-R6 was also very good in California. He took his third second place finish of the year last weekend, having been runner-up in Elkhart Lake and Birmingham as well. Beach was close, but he couldn't quite top Lewis and finished 1.563 seconds back. Beach, still looking for his first class win, would like nothing better than to join Lewis in the ranks of AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike winners.
Dane Westby on the No. 00 Yamalube/Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 earned a hard-fought fifth in Monterey. Westby passed Garrett Gerloff and his No. 8 Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha YZF-R6 to take the spot. Westby was disappointed after the race and said he really didn't get rolling until halfway through the contest. Gerloff had passed "The Wolverine," but Westby recovered and regrouped to take his fourth top five in a row. He now finds himself alive in the championship heading to the scene of two previous victories. The Oklahoman is 25 points out with four races left. However, Westby might be the smart choice in Ohio given his previous success there.
Gerloff faced an uncertain Laguna Seca, having crashed hard in the two previous races. He broke his arm in Alabama but was able to put in a solid race despite the injury. Gerloff, too, is yet to win in AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike but the factory Yamaha pilot is always a contender.
Jake Zemke on the No. 98 GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing Honda CBR600RR is seventh in points, having taken advantage of consistent results throughout 2014. The veteran and his team continue to develop the Honda middleweight machine and churn out solid performances. Zemke has finished every race between 11th and 7th in 2014 and earned ninth in Monterey.
Like Zemke, Benny Solis aboard the No. 35 Team H35 Yamaha YZF-R6 has been consistent this season. Solis earned the top ten every race since Elkhart Lake and the young rider has put together his best season since joining the class. In California, Solis emerged as the rider to top a highly contested fight for the final spot in the top ten.
Kyle Wyman and his No. 33 Kyle Wyman Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 was another rider in that pack. Wyman was 16th in California as he fought in a ten-rider melee going for 10th. The New Yorker is still ninth in points.
Jason DiSalvo on the No. 40 Castrol/Triumph/Sportbike Track Time Triumph Racing Daytona 675 earned pole for the Laguna Seca race. One of the best qualifiers in AMA Pro Racing, DiSalvo came up big to top Gagne and Beach as the only three riders who dropped into the 1-minute, 26-second range. In the race, DiSalvo wasn't able to stick with the leaders but earned seventh ahead of Blake Young riding the No. 79 GN Gonzales Racing Yamaha YZF-R6. The result was enough to help DiSalvo pull ahead of Young by a single point for tenth in the standings.
Class rookie Tomas Puerta on the No. 12 RoadRace Factory/Red Bull Yamaha YZF-R6 is 12th in points. His Laguna Seca was disappointing, though. Puerta led the group fighting for tenth heading into the last corner, but the Colombian ended up on the ground when the pack met a lapped rider as others made their moves.
The Buckeye SuperBike Weekend is a two-day event, so the 23 riders pre-entered and their teams will need to be prepared to get up to speed quickly while avoiding trouble. The 19-lap Race 1 is scheduled for 3 p.m. (noon PT) on Saturday, while the Sunday finale begins at 2 p.m. (11 a.m. PT).
FansChoice.tv is the official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Road Racing and AMA Pro Flat Track events in 2014.
Honda Performance Development has been named presenting sponsor of the Formula F 45th Anniversary, part of the SCCA Summer SpeedFest, Aug. 9-10 at Barber Motorsports Park.
Memphis International Raceway (MIR) and International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) are teaming up to offer some lucky fans a V.I.P experience to the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment World Finals featuring the Nitro Jam Nationals on Friday, October 10. It's as easy as following @RaceMIR on Twitter and using #NitroVIP to participate in the 12-week long contest.
The #NitroVIP contest is scheduled to kick-off Monday, July 21. A winner will be chosen every week for a pair of V.I.P. passes via a series of questions, photo caption contests, retweets, creative answers and several other elements. You can only win one weekly contest throughout the promotion.
The lucky winners will receive an all-inclusive, behind the scenes look at the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment World Finals featuring the Nitro Jam Nationals. The V.I.P experience includes: suite accommodations alongside the starting line at the historic drag strip, parking, food and beverage (excluding alcohol) throughout the day, a private tour of the pit and garage area, and an exclusive meet and greet with the Larsen Motorsports Jet Dragster racing team.
The 2014 IHRA Memphis World Finals feature the best racers from the world of drag racing in multiple professional and sportsman categories. Each day feature's sportsman racing throughout the day and professional racing in the evening. In addition, fans enjoy an all-new Fan Fest pit area centered around the Larsen Motorsports compound. Fan Fest feature's driver autographs and interviews, an interactive display showcasing how to build, design and race a jet-powered racecar in the Jet Technology Center and the exciting Hollywood Cars of the Stars collection featuring some of the most famous cars ever driven in film and television.