BIRMINGHAM, AL (June 19, 2011) -- Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Herrin had something to prove -- and points to regain -- in today's AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Race 2, and when the light went green at Sunday's Barber Motorsports Park contest, that's exactly what he did. After stalking GEICO Powersports/RMR Suzuki's Danny Eslick through the majority of the hard-fought race, Herrin turned the misery of yesterday's DNF into a very sweet .022-second margin of victory, then celebrated by scaling an enormous fence to cheers from fans.
"I consider this my home race, and I was really excited," said Herrin. "I did the Track Walk yesterday and told a couple fans I'd climb the fence, and they were pretty excited about it. So, I thought I would be nice to the fans," added the rider who'd just taken a win in 96-degree heat, "to get them out of the shade up there."
Saturday's seized engine may come back to haunt Herrin in the overall points chase, but for today, the Yamaha rider -- followed across the line by Eslick and Jake Holden Racing's Cameron Beaubier -- is back on top. Only on top of the Barber podium, however, as it's Eslick who's taken over the championship points lead now, becoming the fourth rider to do so this year.
For Celtic Racing/Fast by Ferracci's PJ Jacobsen, today's event was eerily and unpleasantly similar to yesterday's, in which he crashed out early in the race after leading briefly. In today's contest, he lost that lead to a string of other riders before sliding out, but he was far from the only front-runner to suffer sideline fate: M4 Suzuki's Dane Westby followed suit after running as high as third, with former points-leader Cory West (Vesrah Suzuki) ran off just minutes later while trying to move up from fourth. (West was able to reenter, ultimately finishing 20th.)
As Herrin put steadily increasing pressure on Eslick while clearly planning a last-minute attack, it was Y.E.S./Pat Clark/Grave Yamaha's Tommy Aquino who grabbed the spotlight, putting on a performance unlike anything the 19-year-old's shown the paddock this year. Though Beaubier ultimately got him at the last minute -- "It was a little close," said Beaubier, "but I had to do it" -- Aquino demonstrated he's still got what it takes to land on the box.
When the white flag flew and the last lap unspooled, Herrin's attack, which he later labeled part of a "just I hope I can get it, and hope it'll stick" strategy, let loose on the string of final corners, delivered Herrin to the finish-line less than three tenths ahead of Eslick. "I can say I got beat," Eslick said later, laughing. "There's not much else to it. I led every lap down to the last corner pretty much, and he was definitely in a good position. After following me for 20 laps, he knew exactly where I was going on every lap. He definitely had options, and I didn't know where [the attack] was going to come from, but at that point I knew it was coming pretty quick."
When asked how the riders handled today's heat, Eslick quipped, "The same as we do whenever it's cold -- we're not the smartest people out here."
Third-place finisher Beaubier later described his strategy as "just trying not to make any mistakes at the beginning. I knew if I didn't charge hard enough at beginning, I wouldn't be there at end," he continued. "It was a really tough race. I had a couple hard moments trying to keep up, but it was an awesome race."
Behind Beaubier, Aquino, Taylor Knapp (Vesrah Suzuki), Jason DiSalvo (Latus Motors Racing), Kris Turner (Turner's Cycle Racing), Tyler O'Hara (GP Bike Parts Racing), Barrett Long (Longevity Racing), and Tyler Odom (Don Odom Racing) rounded out the top ten.
Today's Daytona SportBike and National Guard SuperBike races air tonight at 9 p.m. PST/midnight EST on SPEED.
The AMA Pro Road Racing Championship next heads to Lexington, Ohio's Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the July 8-10 weekend, Round 6 on the series calendar. For tickets and information, visit www.midohio.com or call (419) 884-4000.
To learn more and be a part of AMA Pro Racing, please visit www.amaproracing.com and join us on facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing and twitter.com/AMAProSBK.