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 2000 and 2001 Daytona 200s.
Winner: Mat Mladin, Suzuki GSXR-750
A year after losing out by just .014 of a second to Miguel Duhamel in the Daytona 200, Yoshimura Suzuki’s Mat Mladin came out on top by a similar margin in 2000, the Australian besting Honda’s Nicky Hayden by just .011 of a second to capture his first Daytona 200 victory. Mladin’s win ended a Suzuki drought in the 200 that dated back to 1988 and Kevin Schwantz and he also became the first Australian in history to win the 200.
The Turning Point: With Mladin and Hayden battling for the duration, the pair were joined early in the race by pole sitter Troy Bayliss on the Vance & Hines Ducati. Mladin and countryman Bayliss were the Australian bread in a Hayden sandwich and the race looked to be a three-rider affair to the finish. But the three-rider battled turned into a two-rider showdown when Bayliss, like Hayden a Daytona 200 rookie, crashed the Ducati on the 35th of 57 laps.
Newsworthy: Muzzy Kawasaki’s Doug Chandler again found himself without a Daytona 200 victory as he managed to beat American Honda’s Miguel Duhamel to the flag for third place. It was Chandler’s fourth visit to Victory Lane without a victory.
With Duhamel fighting suspension woes to end up fourth, fifth went to Yoshimura Suzuki’s Aaron Yates after spending the majority of the 200 battling with the likes of Chandler and Duhamel.
Troy Bayliss qualified on pole position for his first-ever Daytona 200, joining Troy Corser and Anthony Gobert as Australian pole sitters for the race. Although Bayliss was able to earn pole, his 1:49.075 was slower than the lap record set the year prior by Gobert.
Mladin celebrated his 28th birthday on the Friday of race week, one day after qualifying second and a day before winning the race. “As an Australian, it’s (winning the Daytona 200) not as important as it is to an American,” Mladin said prior to the race. “Within the American culture, Daytona is a very big race but outside of America people don’t follow it that much.”
A stat from Daytona: When Kevin Schwantz gave Suzuki its first win in the Daytona 200, Nicky Hayden was seven years old.
John Hopkins became the youngest rider to ever win a 750cc Supersport race when the 16-year-old Californian took victory on Saturday at the Speedway.
Winner: Mat Mladin, Suzuki GSX-R750
In a race that will go down in history as much for the out-of-the-ordinary incidents and the long delays they caused as it will for Mat Mladin’s victory, when all was said and done it was Mladin taking his second win in a row in the 60th running of the Daytona 200. The Australian was the fastest of the fast with his victory never really in doubt.
The Turning Point: The race featured three red flags and took three and a half hours to complete, and it will be remembered mostly for the horrific accident that for all practical purposes ended the career of Scott Russell. Russell’s bike stalled on the start line, and he was collected from behind by first Dean Mizdal and then Richie Morris. The impact was horrendous and its implications far-reaching as Russell suffered a compound fracture to his left femur and his left arm and faced a lengthy surgery on Sunday night to repair his injuries.
Newsworthy: Russell’s crash was the second terrifying incident of the day. The first was caused by, of all things, the pace car. When a crash brought out the pace car, Mladin saw the car coming on to the west banking and pulled in behind it on the backstraight. Some of the others didn’t see the car or the orange flags that were to accompany the use of the car, and the result was melee on the backstraight as Aaron Yates slammed into the back of the slowing Kurtis Roberts. Yates when down, taking his Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Jamie Hacking with him. Roberts was able to continue, though with a broken bone in his hand from the impact.
Kawasaki’s Eric Bostrom ended up second in the 200 behind Mladin and in front of Erion Racing’s Kurtis Roberts. The race was Roberts’ first Daytona 200 and his first AMA Superbike race, and he survived the pace-car incident and a hand injury to make the trip to Victory Lane.
Miguel Duhamel looked to be the only rider capable of keeping Mladin in sight, but the Honda rider crashed out of the race on the 39th lap while giving chase to the Aussie.
Mladin set a new lap record of 1:48.424 to earn pole position for the 2001 Daytona 200.
A new rule for the 2001 race was that only five crew members were allowed over the pit wall during pit stops.
Miguel Duhamel and Jason Pridmore won the 600 and 750cc Supersport races, respectively. Thirty-one-year-old Pridmore beat a 16-year-old by the name of Ben Spies by just .065 of a second in winning the 750cc Supersport race.