GEICO Suzuki rider Eslick celebrates second AMA SportBike title

MILLVILLE, N.J. (Sept. 3) -- GEICO Suzuki rider Danny Eslick once again proved he's the best rider in the AMA Daytona SportBike class by clinching his second championship of the last three years Saturday at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

"I don't think this has sunk in yet," said Eslick, who entered this weekend's twin bill of races with a hefty 45-point advantage over Josh Herrin. "At first I didn't think we finished far enough up there. I did know we had to be within a few spots of Josh to win it and obviously we were."

Eslick actually finished the race in sixth place, with Herrin, the only rider with any chance of catching him this weekend taking second. That actually reduced Eslick's lead to 34 points, but the most a rider can earn in a single race is 32 so the title was clinched.

"It was an awesome race, a perfect way to finish this thing out," Eslick said. "I don't know how many lead changes there were but there were a bunch, probably more than any race this year. There was seven of us going back and forth pretty hard.

"At the beginning of the race there were a few times when I knew I should probably back off a little. I knew I was in a pretty good position and I didn't want to give the race away by wrecking out. Taylor (Knapp) and Cory (West) put some pretty hard moves on me that were a little more risky than how I wanted to race so I held back a little to hold the position I was in."

Eslick clinched the 2009 SportBike Championship at this same facility in 2009. Last year he finished eight points behind Martin Cardenas.

"It's great to come back here and have a good, close race," the Oklahoman said. "The guys just had everything together for me this year and the fans picked us up when we needed it. They've always been so awesome and supportive of me. I can't thank them enough for always being there. GEICO, Suzuki, Richie Morris, none of this would have happened without them. I'm a lucky guy."

The season had an auspicious start for Eslick when came off his bike at 160-plus mph during the Daytona 200 at Daytona International Speedway. It was later determined that faulty tires caused the accident in a race that was red-flagged two laps after Eslick's crash, but the result was still a 35th place finish that earned him zero points.

He only missed the podium three times after the wreck, winning a trio of events and leading the most laps on four occasions.

"After my big crash at Daytona we made a joke out of the fact that the guy who eventually won the championship the last two years had left Daytona with either zero or negative points," Eslick said. "Now that we've won it again I guess we can make that three in a row."

All three of the GEICO Harley-Davidson XR1200 riders made qualifying laps Saturday afternoon to end the day's activities. Points leader Chris Fillmore had the fastest qualifying time of 1:30.0 which placed him on the pole for Sunday's race. Kyle Wyman's fastest lap of 1:32.3 slotted him sixth, while Michael Corbino's 1:34.7 earned him the 11th starting spot.