If there is one thing that is for certain at Daytona, it’s that nothing can be counted on. Over the years, there have been numerous instances where the unexpected has happened.
In 2009, Jason Lawrence led all but the last few laps of the race after getting out to the early lead and opening up a sizeable gap over second place Chad Reed. In the end, Lawrence finished second, but it was proof positive that anything can and will happen on the rough, sandy Daytona course. One year before that race, Geico Honda’s Kevin Windham took home a solid win, but like J-Law’s performance it wasn’t expected. The 2008 race was one of the muddiest and wettest races in the history of the sport, and after leading the entire race—and nearly lapping the whole field—Chad Reed’s bike quit running on the last lap, handing the lead and victory over to Windham.
For this year, there are a few riders to keep an eye on who might shake things up in either class.
We’ve already mentioned K-Dub’s amazing performance during the horribly muddy ’08 race, but after 201 main event starts, the Mississippi native is still a frontrunner and is currently coming off of two back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the highly competitive SX class. Can he get another win at Daytona or at the very least land on the podium for the first time this season? Only time will tell.
Team Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Brayton has had an up and down season. He started off strong, but went through a low point that saw him crash hard and get injured. Since recovering from injury—and racing the entire time—Brayton found himself on the podium last week in St. Louis and is likely looking to improve upon that. Well known for his high level of fitness, Brayton will likely use that to his advantage. Last year, he finished sixth in the main event.
Last year, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett won the Daytona Supercross after taking the early lead and checking out. This season, though, hasn’t gone as Baggett would have liked and he currently sits seventh in points, well out of the championship hunt. His win and experience from last year, though, will prove to be invaluable for him and just might be the missing piece to the puzzle that he needs to get back on top of the box.
JDR/J-Star/KTM’s Malcolm Stewart has had a rough year so far, as his race results have been plagued with crashes and bike problems. Be that as it may, however, Stewart still has shown tons of speed, and it just so happens that he has grown up in Florida and is comfortable riding the deep sand that is found at Daytona. If Stewart can turn things around at Daytona, it might be the stepping-stone that he needs to boost his confidence and propel him to the front on a regular basis.