JD Beach Race Report - Daytona 2014
NEWS March 19, 2014
Photo by Brian J Nelson
March 19, 2014 - The season has finally started but it wasn’t the start I was hoping for. It all started a week before Daytona started with the first leg of the trip at Savannah for the Steve Nace All Star series. Savannah is hands down one of the best Half Miles around and is always a blast to ride. This year was no different, other than there was a lot of sitting around and watching, more on that later.
This year the trip was a little hectic. The week leading up to leaving I was out in California for doing some Yamaha filming and pit stop practice. If you haven’t seen it yet check out Yamaha’s FaceBook page. So with staying out in California for a week then getting home the day before leaving for Savannah then having to load everything for two weeks was hard. I had everything from bicycles, to dirt track gear, to road race gear, dirt track bikes, and food. Somehow we didn’t forget anything, I was really surprised! The only bummer was I chased a storm that started in California and rained the whole time out there, got home to snow, then got to Savannah with more rain.
We did end up getting to race but a three day event got pushed into one day and Steve Nace and his crew ran through something crazy, like 500 entries!! We didn’t get as much track time as I was hoping but still got to race. For the weekend with the help from TJ Burnett, Van Hammel, and Victory Circle Graphix I had a 2010 Yamaha 450 to race since my 2014 Yamaha 450 is still being built. It wasn’t as fast as we had hoped, I had many fast experts pass me around the outside through the turn while I was wide open. We did walk away with two 5th’s and a 6th on an underpowered bike!! Two things that made the weekend worth it though was getting to relax and doing fun stuff and seeing some cool stuff with some great people since we got rained out a couple days. The other thing was having Davis Fisher apart of the team for his first year as a Pro racer. His dad Rex has helped me a lot growing up with riding, bike setup, and bikes to race. I’ve been lucky enough to do the same for Davis and to make sure he always had the best bikes to ride. It made it even more worth it when I was laying in bed Friday night watching the National and in just his second race scored a podium finish at the Daytona Short Track.
After Savannah it was time to head South and get down to business. When I say business I mean finding all the unique places to eat. Daytona always has some good places to eat and with the beach being right there was relaxing before what ended up being a very rough and hard Daytona 200 weekend.
Come Thursday I was so ready for the race weekend. We had our first riders meeting of the year, getting our head shots done, and everything else we do the first race weekend. The feelings deep inside kept building up and I couldn’t wait to get out on track. To spin the first laps on my first full time factory ride, I couldn’t wait, and it finally happened. Along with all my other “first’s” as a factory ride. Bike problems, bad luck, just about anything that could happened did. No I’ve had two bad tests and a bad race weekend, they say everything comes in 3’s so hopefully its all gone now. But with all that said I felt great on the bike, I did some of my fastest times ever at Daytona without even having a draft which is big there. The team did work their butts off all weekend to fix everything that did happen and I can’t thank them enough for that. After little track time and bad luck we still qualified 7th, no that’s not fantastic but with everything that was going on it was good enough. Plus it didn’t even matter because from the 3rd row I almost had the hole shot but was 2nd going into turn 1.
Before I finish talking about the race I need to talk about the things that went on during the weekend. First off I know people aren’t happy with the AMA for only five races and so on but bad mouthing this series isn’t going to help. We all need to try as hard as we can, riders, mechanics, teams, and fans to help get the series back where it has been. Next congrats to Cameron Beaubier, DSB Champion to AMA Pro Superbike winner in less than 6 months. I’ve known Cameron for a long time and he’s one of my best friends, he’s an amazing racer and it was cool to see him come out swinging and win his first race. But a Kentucky Boy did take pole away from him, Roger Hayden, which was cool to see too. Last I have to say nice job to Hayden Gillim with two great races in SuperSport. After a motor breaking he had to start on the 7th row and still ran in the lead group in both races. He had the fastest lap in Race 2 and finished 3rd. Hayden is racing on a new team this year and has been working so hard this offseason. After seasons of doing his own team and us having to make sure everything was ready and at the track its awesome to see him on a great team and working so hard. It’s alwaysnice having family at the track but it makes it hard to watch his races haha.
Ok back to my race, it started off great but kind of ended up like a piece of wood in the ocean. I just drifted farther and farther away. I’m not to sure what was going on, we just didn’t have the speed I thought we would. I felt great on the bike but something just wasn’t clicking. Then to top it off we finally worked our way into the Top 5 and with about 10 laps to go I high sided. That’s about all I can tell you, I remember high siding then I remember trying to pick up the bike. No sliding, not getting up, not running to the bike. I did get the bike picked up and back to the pits. The team got it ready to go again but I was so dizzy I couldn’t ride again. I was a little out of it. Like I said on FaceBook, I started the race on the track and finished it in the hospital. Not the 200 I was hoping for but that’s racing.
Now I’m back home in Kentucky, feeling a lot better than the night after the 200. I can actually stand up without holding on to stuff and walk without looking drunk haha. The weather is finally getting better here at home, not great but better. I’m looking forward to getting some riding in and counting down the days until the next race.