JD Beach - Race Report DAYTONA 200
NEWS March 23, 2013
(March 22, 2013) - According to the calendar it is spring time and Daytona has come and passed. I can tell you two things, it doesn’t feel like it because it’s still 40 degrees here in Owensboro and we have 9 weeks until the next race so the season doesn’t feel like it has started yet. Leading up to Daytona was real busy around here, helping Hayden get all his stuff ready, helping the dirt track team get stuff ready and finding some time for me to train and pack my stuff. I think every year the trip gets better and better because I know more of what is going on.
This year the trip started a week early heading down with my dirt track team and Kerri to do some dirt tracking. The first stop was in Savannah, GA for a test day and a race. I’ve always enjoyed racing at that track, it’s a beautiful half mile that is always prepped well. This year it was just about zero stress once the racing got going and just a lot of fun. I always want to win when I line up for the race but this year I was a test rider. Brandon Robinson is the main rider for the TJ Burnett/James Hart/USC team so they were giving me stuff to test for him. I was still able to mix it up and get some racing in. We walked
away from Savannah with a 4th and a 5th. One thing that really sticks out from the racing is in the Twins race Jake Johnson flew by me going into turn 3 like I was standing still. After the race I walked up to him and got in his face and let him know that that pass scared the crap out of me and he owed me new underwear. I was just messing with him and it was a great pass, he just laughed and we carried on. It’s just really neat that you can go up to top riders in the sport like Jake Johnson and be able to cut up with them.
After Savannah we headed south on the 95 to Florida for a day off before racing in Volusia on a half mile. The turnout wasn’t great but the racing was exciting. I was testing more stuff and the team probably changed 8 tires for me. I was able to get on the podium on the 450 so I was happy with that.
The real adventure started after the race, our hotel was about 24 miles away so I decided to ride my Specialized road bike back. It was nice to just unwind after 4 days of going wide open traveling and racing. I would have to say it was the longest ride I have ever done with only making ONE turn the whole time.
Once the dirt track racing was over we had a few days of resting and having fun before the real business started. I even got out of my normal and ate some juke food, one night we all went and got ice cream and Brandon got an ice cream cone that had the ice cream piled up to probably a foot. He couldn’t even eat it down to the cone. The next day we all went to the beach and rented scooters, there was 5 of us that had raced or race. James, TJ, Kerri, Brandon, and I rode for hours. It was a blast and we didn’t even get over 30mph.
Now for the whole reason we went down to Daytona. I’m not sure what was different from the past years of racing but I just felt good going into the weekend. I think I was just really excited to get on the bike. After all the hard work the dirt track team was all ready for their stuff, Hayden had all his stuff together and ready, and RoadRace Factory and my crew Scott Jensen and Danny Anderson were set. They had been working their butts off and the bikes looked great. The only way the weekend could have been better was if we had won the 200 but finishing a strong 5th isn’t anything to be sad about. After weekends like that all the time spent training, sending emails, and traveling make it all worth it.
From the minute we got started on track on Thursday we were on it. After finishing the first day Jake Gagne and I were 2nd and 3rd. We just came out of the box swinging. I even had a tip over the first session and that didn’t slow us up a bit. Once we go out to qualifying it got a little tough, I was able to only get one lap with a draft but that lap was strong enough to end up 5th. Daytona is all about the draft and without getting that it’s hard to get a real fast lap in.
Sitting on the grid I was nervous as always but it was different. Before the race Scott just said his normal stuff to me but it was like it finally got through all my hair and in my head. It finally clicked and I was ready to go. After a great start we were running really well until I made a small mistake going just a bit wide in turn 1. Just enough to where I couldn’t pick the draft back up. I knew I just had to keep pushing and not give up. With the help of the pit stop crew I was able to work my way from 8th to 5th. After the race it always sucks if you didn’t win, there’s always the should ofs, could ofs, would ofs but after everything was said and done I was happy. It wasn’t my best finish but there is more to come.
Now I’m sitting here wrapping up the race report with my heart rate rising and butterflies in my stomach ready to go racing. That feeling is the best in the world and I can’t wait until I get on the bike at Road America. The only bad thing is that we have 2 months until that round.