With the news that MotoAmerica is headed to Daytona International Speedway in March of 2022 for the Daytona 200, we decided the perfect way to build excitement for the event would be to start digging through the history books and memory banks. Since Paul Carruthers is literally as old as the Speedway itself and covered almost 30 Daytona 200s as a journalist while working at Cycle News, it was a no-brainer that it would be him who would take on the task of trying to recall the good and the bad. And since we are the home of the AMA Superbike Series, we figured we’d have him start his look back with the 1985 Daytona 200 – the first of the 200s to feature Superbikes – and go from there. This week, we focus on the 2008 and 2009 Daytona 200s.
Winner: Chaz Davies, Kawasaki ZX6R
The 2008 Daytona 200 is one that Josh Hayes will never forget. After 69 laps, it was Hayes and his Erion Honda crossing the finish line some 32 seconds clear of Attack Kawasaki’s Chaz Davies with another 19 seconds to defending race champion Steve Rapp, on the second Attack Kawasaki. Hayes did a lap of Daytona with the checkered flag; he held the big trophy and he sprayed champagne in Victory Lane.
Later that evening, all that was history when his Erion Honda CBR600RR failed post-race technical inspection when the AMA deemed that the Honda’s crankshaft had been polished and lightened. Hayes was disqualified, and Welshman Davies was declared the winner of the 67th Daytona 200.
The Turning Point: Obviously, the turning point was what came after the race with Hayes’ disqualification. “I know my crew would not show up at tech with something that they knew was illegal, especially if they say it was obvious,” Haye said. “I believe in my crew, and I rode with all my heart, and I did the best job I could. And it hurts me because nobody wins in this thing. Nobody wins in this thing. Not even Chaz (Davies) – Chaz doesn’t get to have any photos of him with the victory flag. Me it hurts. For Honda, for Dunlop, for a lot of people that stood behind me and did so much to help me… it all around stinks. It’s hard to find a positive in any of it.”
Newsworthy: Hayes led 53 laps of the Daytona 200, en route to what appeared to be victory.
Jake Zemke’s hopes of a second Daytona 200 victory ended on the 22nd lap when the crew struggled with the axle during a pit stop on the replacement wheel. The team had fitted the wrong rear sprocket, the chain was too short, and the axle wouldn’t line up properly. Zemke ended up 13th.
Zemke’s teammate Miguel Duhamel fried a clutch at the start of the 200. Duhamel pitted to swap bikes on the first lap, something the team thought was legal but then found out later in the race that it wasn’t. Duhamel fought through to fifth place before getting black-flagged. “They let me out there for 56 laps before they made up their mind that I couldn’t be out there,” Duhamel said. “I put myself and other people at risk.”
Duhamel’s Honda teammate Neil Hodgson was running second in his first-ever 600cc race, but he ran off in the chicane on the 42nd lap. Hodgson’s clutch went out with about five laps to go and then his engine let go.
Second place in the race ultimately fell to Davies’ Attack Kawasaki teammate Steve Rapp. Larry Pegram finished third in his first race on the Leo Vince Foremost Insurance Ducati 848.
Two days prior to his 36th birthday, Mat Mladin won his 64th AMA Superbike race with a victory over his Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Ben Spies at Daytona International Speedway. Ben Bostrom, meanwhile, beat his Graves Motorsports Yamaha teammate Josh Herrin by just .012 of a second to win the Supersport race at Daytona and Aaron Yates came away victorious on the Michael Jordan Motorsports Suzuki in the Superstock race.
Winner: Ben Bostrom, Yamaha YZF-R6
The 2009 running of the Daytona 200 was the first to be held at night under the lights and it was memorable with pace cars, exploding lights in the chicane and a red flag that led to a 45-minute delay and a 55-lap race, shortened from 57. By the time the final pace car left the track, there were seven laps remaining and the Daytona 200 would be a 24.85-mile sprint. When the race finally concluded at 10:45 on a Friday night, Yamaha’s Ben Bostrom had won his first Daytona 200, albeit with a bit of controversy.
The Turning Point: Many of the riders didn’t think Bostrom had won. They believed he missed a lap in the pits and also believed that his team had worked on his Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6 during the red flag, a violation of the rules. There was also some confusion as to how the riders were lined up behind the final pace car. The AMA’s Director of Competition went straight to the media center to answer questions and openly address the problems race direction faced with the scoring mix-ups. He assured those assembled that the laps were correct, and that offline monitors, online monitors and towers were incorrect and that had caused the confusion.
Newsworthy: Bostrom’s teammate Josh Herrin finished second in the 200, just .554 of a second behind. Team M4 EMGO Suzuki’s Jason DiSalvo was third, less than a 10th of a second behind Herrin. The results from there on down got messy. Jake Zemke was listed as 22nd but wrote a letter to timing and scoring asking for clarification. After reconsidering the results, Zemke was moved to 10th, then ended up 11th on the official results.
Josh Hayes, who was disqualified from his victory the year prior, was battling for the lead late in the race when he highsided exiting the International Horseshoe.
Ben Bostrom earned pole and the Rolex Daytona wristwatch during Superpole qualifying for the 200, lapping at 1:50.240. Buell-mounted Danny Eslick was second fastest in qualifying with DiSalvo and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jamie Hacking filling the front row.
Five-time Daytona 200 winner Miguel Duhamel rode a privateer Suzuki GSX-R600 to 16th in the 200. “You know what it is? It’s like back to the future,” Duhamel said. “Back to a privateer team a little bit, but this is a pretty good team, actually. And they only had 12 days to put the bike together.”
With new rules that were more Superstock than Superbike, the man at the front was the same as Yoshimura Suzuki’s Mat Mladin won the Superbike race at Daytona International Speedway on a Thursday afternoon in March. The race, relegated to support-class status a few years earlier, saw close racing but another victory for Mladin. Brit Neil Hodgson was second on his Honda with Tommy Hayden riding a Yoshimura Suzuki to third. The race was held without live television.