DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In only his third AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike start, 19 year-old Joey Pascarella took home the win at the 71st DAYTONA 200 Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Pascarella, aboard the Project 1 Atlanta/March of Dimes Yamaha YZF-R6, was able to hold the lead despite having three riders (Jason DiSalvo of Latus Motors Racing Triumph, Cameron Beaubier of Graves Yamaha, and Martin Cardenas of GEICO Suzuki) on his tail at the conclusion of the 57-lap race. Pascarella’s margin of victory was 0.048 over DiSalvo, with Beaubier edging out Martin Cardenas by photo finish.
Pascarella and Beaubier were the only two riders remaining in the lead pack after the second round of pit stops, but Cardenas and then DiSalvo managed to run down the fast teens from several seconds back to make a four-man battle in the final four laps.
Pascarella, who led 41 laps, ran in first as the riders entered the chicane on the final lap. The fast four moved past a lapped rider and made the charge to the stripe for the 57th time, where Pascarella encountered another backmarker.
“I knew I could do it and I had faith in myself,” said Pascarella, who did not test the bike or ride before Wednesday’s practice. “I ran my own race. I thought if I led on the last lap and someone passed me, so be it. I felt most comfortable in the lead. Everyone was there the whole race. It ended up working out. I got a draft on a lapper and I was able to bring it home with a win. I don’t know what we’re doing for the rest of the season, but hopefully the team and I can keep going.”
Runner-up DiSalvo charged hard after slowing before the first round of stops. “I thought I had an issue with the motorcycle and I backed off the pace considerably and we lost a good bit of time. We went through our pit stop and got back out there and everything looked okay and we kept going,” said last year’s DAYTONA® 200 winner. “Once I thoroughly chastised myself for making a silly move like that — you ride it until it stops, you don’t think you hear a noise and pull in — I just rode as hard as I could every lap. Every lap of that race was ten tenths, as hard as I could go. It ended up working out right that we were right there in the end. Through all the laps, and all the sliding around and slicing through lapped riders, it was just in the back of my mind that I was riding for Gary (Nixon) and riding for his memory, and for my crew and all the hard work they put in.”
“The race was awesome,” said third-place finisher Beaubier. “I really didn’t get a good draft to the line, but I am happy with third.”
Behind the lead pack, another set of riders participated in an equally ferocious battle. M4 Broaster Chicken Suzuki rider Dane Westby led that pack filled with veterans and young riders, breaking away at the line to close out the top five. Ducshop Racing’s Zemke followed, with Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha’s Tommy Hayden, RoadRace Factory/Red Bull’s Jake Gagne, SGA Racing’s Tommy Aquino in tow. Cory West and the Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki Team rounded out the top 10.
Pos. Rider Team Bike 1 Joey Pascarella Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha YZF-R6 2 Jason DiSalvo Latus Triumph 3 Cameron Beaubier Graves Yamaha Extended Service Yamaha YZF-R6 4 Martin Cardenas Geico Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R600 5 Dane Westby M4 Broaster Chicken Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R600 6 Jake Zemke Ducshop Racing Ducati 848 7 Tommy Hayden Graves Yamaha Extended Service Yamaha YZF-R6 8 Jake Gagne Road Race Factory/Red Bull Yamaha YZF-R6 9 Tommy Aquino 10 Cory West Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R600 11 JD Beach Road Race Factory/Red Bull Yamaha YZF-R6 12 Robertino Pietri Katra/SGA Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 13 Michael Beck Full Tuck Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 14 Bobby Fong Meen Motorsports Racing Yamaha YZF-R6 15 D. Gavaria Yamaha YZF-R6