Photos by Jeff Kardas
This year’s stop at Daytona, Florida’s historic Daytona International Speedway was a muddy fiasco, and while it did not compare to the monsoon race conditions of 2008’s thriller, the week leading up to the race and the weekend itself shook up the title chase.
Sections of the track were water logged trenches and were two to three feet deep in some areas.
Daytona marked Kyle Regal's return to the Supercross series. Regal, backed by longtime sponsor Merge Racing, scored a third place finish in his heat race and a thirteenth place in the main event.
What was supposed to be a long rhythm section that ran parallel to pit lane became a series of singles that the riders bounced through, splashing in the deep puddles that laid between each mound. Keeping the front end of the bike in the air in this area was crucial to maintain speed as well as keep the bike alive.
To aid the racers and mechanics, a designated bike wash area, complete with power washers, was set up near Victory Lane.
Goggle reps, like 100%'s John Kuzo, were some of the busiest people of the weekend. Getting multiple sets of goggles prepped with tear offs, Roll Offs, Rain-X, and anti-fog treatments was a necessary chore. But many riders were still forced to ditch their goggles midway through each race once the conditions became too much for the protection.
Many pegged Kevin Windham as a possible winner once the skies began to open. Windham's effortless style has benefited him in numerous mud races, including his 2005 win at the Anaheim opener and his 2008 Daytona victory, which came after Chad Reed's bike died in the final moments of the main event. Windham was one of the first riders to launch the triple jumps despite the rain which helped him claim his heat race win. After pursuing Davi Millsaps for the duration of the main event, he finished in third place and netted his first podium of the 2012 season.
Broc Tickle ran as high as fifth place in the night's main event before he was passed by Mike Alessi, Jake Weimer, and Ryan Villopoto and finished in eighth place. He is currently 13th in the overall point standings in his rookie year as a 450 racer.
The rain showers began in the afternoon and forced the AMA to drop the first timed practice session of the day from the schedule.
Jake Canada's quiet yet consistent string of results continued at Daytona, as the MotoConcepts Lites rider claimed his second straight sixth place main event finish. Canada led the opening lap of his heat race over Blake Baggett and managed to keep the charging Pro Circuit in sight for the entire heat race.
After earning his second straight Arenacross title, Tyler Bowers lined up in St. Louis wearing his traditional "911" digits. This was a minor mistake on the AMA's part, as all racers must run their assigned number. At Daytona Bowers and his bike were decked out with the correct number.
Justin Barcia continued his streak of main event wins at Daytona, as he edged out the charging (and faster) Blake Baggett on the final lap. Barcia swept the day with the fastest qualifying time, a heat race victory, and the main event.
The Yoshimura Suzuki team has carried and displayed Ricky Carmichael's "full race bike" at many of the rounds this year. Carmichael joined the untimed "A" practice session and diced with Jake Weimer, Broc Tickle, and Ryan Villopoto. GoPro has released the footage from Carmichael's hemet camera, so be sure to check out how "The GOAT" fared on his own course.
Both Trey Canard and Chad Reed were on hand at the Daytona Supercross. Reed recently underwent a full ACL reconstruction following his Dallas main event crash and is on the road to recovery.
Ricky Renner qualified for the night show aboard a 2009 Yamaha YZ 125, which was tuned for the day by his brother, Ronnie. Renner's attempt fielded the privateer a considerable amount of attention, including a sum of PayPal donations, but his night came to an end early in the heat race when the tiddler gave out.
Marvin Musquin netted a top five finish in only his second start in the 450 class. With the West Coast Lites class on hiatus, Musquin has competed in two of his three scheduled races aboard the KTM 350, and will end his time after this weekend's stop in Indianapolis.
With ample room in the vacant garages, every racer was able to pit indoors and out of the elements. The process was lengthy for those lacked who carts to carry their tools from their vans to the paddock.
Even though the teams were in their own garages, they still took the common and necessary steps to keep fans at bay.
Freegun Underwear, the French brand who are making waves in the American moto market, have released a Mike Alessi signature line. The clothing company also recently signed Justin Barica.
The layout of the infield makes every race look the same, be it NASCAR, Supercross, or the 24 Hours of Daytona.
As the presenting sponsor of the event, Honda made their presence known with signage every where you looked. Prior to the event, Honda announced they had signed a three year extension to remain the sponsor of the historic race.
As we mentioned before, the untimed practice session had a very loose feel to it. James Stewart took the opportunity to run his rookie number (259) in the free practice, but switched back to his customary number seven by the time qualifying began. Stewart was visibly relaxed and calm throughout the day.
Cole Seely is a vocal fan of Dale Earnhardt and the trip to Daytona was a pilgrimage for Factory Honda fill-in. Troy Lee painted this "Intimidator" lid, which was complete with a ghosted number "4," to complete Seely's number.
This was Ken Roczen's second trip to Daytona (he raced last year aboard a 350), and one that netted better results for the Lites rider. Roczen recorded the third fastest lap of qualifying and raced to a fourth place finish in the main event.
Roczen, along with his mother, moved to United States full time over the winter, but his extended family and father have remained in Germany. Members of his family, including his father, sister, and niece were all in attendance to see him race at Daytona.
Thanks to his second podium of the season, Darryn Durham is locked in to second behind Justin Barcia in the points standings. He is 24 points down to Barcia as they head in to the fifth round of the series.
The winner of the Daytona Supercross is presented with this trophy, which is similar to the Daytona 200 trophy and the Harley J. Earl trophy, which is presented to the winner of the Daytona 500.
Gannon Audette is still nursing a broken wrist after his Dallas practice crash. His current return date is set for Hangtown, the opener of the National season.
The win and second place finishes of their two riders gave JGR team their best results of it's four year history. Millsaps and Stewart battled for the opening laps of the main event and inched higher in the points standings.
Many jumps, whoops and dug out sections of the infield, like this one, were plowed and filled between practice and the main event to keep water from pooling too deeply. The resulting track was very different than what was initially designed, but it was a necessary measure.
See you next week...