Mike LaRocco put in one of the most impressive rides of the day at round nine of the AMA/EA Sports Supercross Series in Daytona International Speedway, coming from nearly last after a first-lap pileup to fifth on his Team Amsoil/Factory Connection/Jack in the Box Honda CR250R. Perhaps the only more astounding ride was that of Ricky Carmichael who completely dominated the main event so thoroughly en route to his first 250cc supercross victory that he lapped all but runner-up Jeremy McGrath and third-place David Vuillemin. LaRocco maintains third in points behind McGrath and Vuillemin as the second half of the season gets underway.
Although all racers had a weekend off between Atlanta and Daytona, few saw it as a vacation. Instead, many teams remained in Georgia or Florida to test bike setups for the all-important Daytona Supercross, one of the most prestigious races in the sport. Team Honda, for example, tested in Georgia at some of Ezra Luskӳ practice tracks. In fact, Lusk got in some training laps for the first time since injuring his shoulder at round one in Anaheim, riding his CR125R, but heӳ not expected to resume racing until the AMA/Chevy Trucks National MX Series kicks off in May.
Daytona is the most unique race on the circuit and combines aspects of both indoor supercross and outdoor motocross. The course on the infield grass between the road course banking and pit row is very sandy, which becomes as rough and rutted as the most brutal outdoor course. However, track builder Gary Bailey incorporates combinations of jumps and rhythm sections that are as technical as any stadium event, too. Daytona is also the longest track, so instead of a 20-lap main thatӳ 20 minutes long, itӳ closer to 35 minutesشhe length of an outdoor National moto.
LaRocco hasnӴ enjoyed the best starts this season, but he got off to a nice one when the gate dropped for the main. ԉ had a great start. I went [into the first turn] and there was a deep rut there,ԠLaRocco said. Ԋeremy was in it, and I was kind of waiting for him before I went in it when [Damon] Huffman ran into me. He pushed me into Jeremy and got all caught up in my back wheel. I ended up falling over because we [Huffman and I] were tangled up; he just kept clutching it, and we couldnӴ get our bikes apart.
ԉ just did what I could to get through traffic [after that]. It was tough. The first five laps, it took a lot of energy for me to get through.Ԡ
Carmichael ended up safely out front followed by McGrath, Vuillemin and Red Rider Sebastien Tortelli. The top three remained unchanged for all 20 laps, though McGrath drew close early, only to drop back when his legs tired. At the finish, Carmichael owned a 22-second margin over McGrath.
Once again, LaRocco gave the crowd something to watch as he slashed through the pack. After getting untangled, he went to work immediately and came through in 19th place on lap one, passed four more racers on lap two and snuck by four more on lap three for 11th place. He moved into sixth by lap seven, and it took a long time to catch up to Kevin Windham in fifth. Windham, who spent most of last week in bed with the flu, would still manage to finish seventh.
With three laps to go and Tortelli in sight, LaRocco felt a cramp coming on so he backed off a bit in order to maintain his position. For his second appearance at Daytona, Tortelli said, Ԕhe bike is working great. I worked hard [to prepare] for [this], but I was maybe not ready for it, I guess. I was riding my pace and [keeping] a good rhythm to not get tiredدr to try to get tired as late as possible.Ԡ
In 125s, Team FMF/Honda racer Brock Sellards maintained his AMA 125cc Eastern Region Supercross Series points lead with a runner-up finish behind Travis Pastrana who won for the first time in his short professional career.
Daytona Supercross 250-class Main