Josh Herrin (1) crosses the finish line ahead of Josh Hayes (4), Brandon Paasch (96) and Cameron Petersen (45) at the end of the Daytona 200. Paasch was penalized 15 seconds for a pit-lane infraction and was dropped to 12th in the final results. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

Thirteen years ago, a young Josh Herrin won the Daytona 200. Unfortunately, back then it was the pole sitter who was awarded the Rolex and Herrin didn’t start the race from pole. Thus, no Rolex. When it changed to the race winner getting the Rolex, Herrin started getting poles but not wins. Today he got it right, winning the 81st running of the Daytona 200, sponsored in part by Pirelli and Bridgestone, and earning his second 200 victory. And this time he got his Rolex.

The 13 years between wins for Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC’s Herrin is the longest gap between Daytona wins in the history of the race. The previous longest timespan between wins was seven years for Eddie Lawson, who won the race in 1986 and not again until 1993.

Herrin was at or near the front of the lead pack for the duration of the 200 and with nine laps to go it looked like a two-rider shootout between Herrin and his Ducati Panigale V2 and the Suzuki GSX-R750 of Mission M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Richie Escalante. Those two had seemingly broken the spirit of the rest and there was a gap back to third-placed Josh Hayes and the Squid Hunter Racing Yamaha YZF-R6.

A lap later, however, and Escalante was on the ground in turn one and out of the race after the pair came together. That left Herrin alone at the front, but with five laps to go the red flag came out on the 52nd lap when Teagg Hobbs and Jason Waters crashed together in the International Horseshoe.

The Daytona 200 rulebook states: “For the Daytona 200, the number of laps of the second race will be the number of laps required to complete the original race distance of fifty-seven (57) laps but shall not be less than ten (10) laps.” Thus, the race would end up being 62 laps and 217.62 miles.

Herrin, meanwhile, had been penalized six spots on the grid of the restart because of his altercation with Escalante.

The 10-lap sprint after the restart featured a horde of seven riders at the front, but it was Herrin at the pointy end when it mattered as he won the drafting war to beat Hayes by .070 of a second. Attack Performance Yamaha’s Cameron Petersen was third, .140 behind, for a complete turnaround of how his day had gone with a clutch issue thwarting his progress in the early stages of the race. The clutch problem translated to Petersen being forced to pit three times, but he didn’t give up and it paid dividends at the completion of the 10-lap sprint.

Fourth place went to Disrupt Racing’s Hayden Gillim, who would later protest the results believing that Petersen didn’t actually finish third. His protest was denied. Gillim had fought back after crashing with 20 laps to go and remounting.

Celtic/Tytlers Cycle/TSE Racing’s PJ Jacobsen finished fifth and just .439 of a second behind Herrin. Jacobsen also got new life thanks to the restart after crashing and remounting on the 31st lap.

Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Hobbs was sixth after his team rebuilt his crashed bike. Disrupt Racing’s Geoff May, TOBC Racing’s Danny Eslick, TSE/Truelove Brothers Racing’s Matt Truelove and Farrell Performance’s Jason Farrell rounded out the top 10.

Two-time and defending Daytona 200 winner Brandon Paasch was 12th after being penalized 15 seconds at the end of the race for a pit lane speed violation. Biothermal/Blake Davis Racing’s Blake Davis suffered a similar fate and was dropped to 11th in the final standings. Both riders raced at the front of the pack in the restarted portion of the race, but their penalties were applied at the completion of the race, per the rulebook.

Herrin’s victory on the Ducati Panigale V2 was the Italian marque’s second win in the 200 with Jason DiSalvo winning on a Team Latus Ducati 848 EVO.

Daytona 200 Results

  1. Josh Herrin (Ducati)
  2. Josh Hayes (Yamaha)
  3. Cameron Petersen (Yamaha)
  4. Hayden Gillim (Suzuki)
  5. PJ Jacobsen (Yamaha)
  6. Teagg Hobbs (Suzuki)
  7. Geoff May (Suzuki)
  8. Danny Eslick (Triumph)
  9. Matt Truelove (Yamaha)
  10. Jason Farell (Kawasaki)

Daytona 200 Quotes

Josh Herrin – Winner

“We were on I think after the final pitstop, and I had been seeing just different spots that I could overtake if I needed to,” Herrin explained of his run-in with Richie Escalante. “His bike was a missile, especially the first banking. I had to get a really good run out to get him into the chicane because he was really good coming out of the chicane. So, in my head I’m thinking, ‘All right, I’m going to struggle to do it if he puts in a good lap.’ That was one of the spots where I thought would be a possibility and it would kind of throw him off of his rhythm. With the last however many laps to go, I just saw an opening and wanted to try it. As far as I was concerned, I was there and had the line. I felt the contact and looked back. I didn’t see him, but I wasn’t positive if he had gone down or not. So, I kept putting my head down. When I came around the next time, I saw him out there flipping me off. So, I figured that something had happened.”

“I was freaking out,” Herrin said when asked about the race being red flagged and restarted. “My neck was destroyed just from sitting on the banking for that long. We didn’t put a pad, which we should have. I didn’t think about it. After 57 laps, your neck just sitting there holding it up the whole time, I was wrecked. When they added five laps I was panicking because at that point I knew it was going to be a sprint to the finish, and I didn’t think I had the legs to get the win. They told me Cam (Petersen) was a lap down. They told me Brandon (Paasch) had a 20-second penalty. I thought that I had lapped Blake Davis at one point, but it must have been somebody else. I was just super confused. I didn’t know if I needed to try to beat Cam or if I needed to try to beat Brandon. I didn’t know what was going on. I just had a lap where I said, “You know what? It doesn’t matter. I need to just try to win, no matter who’s there.” Because if for some reason the guys in the pit were wrong, then I’d be screwed.”

Josh Hayes – Second Place

“Honestly, I had some pace in the infield and in the second and third sectors I was just hanging on,” Hayes said. “I needed them to be able to do it. Two or three laps there, and maybe consecutive, I think I got two where they would get somebody on the entrance to the chicane, and I couldn’t get in the position to do it. So, I’d have to follow a few people through and then I was just kind of hung out there on my own. It was a gap of what you can see in the tri-oval. They were going into one and I was still coming into the tri-oval. I pushed as hard as I could for a while, and I could see I was kind of maintaining. I did the pit stop and came back out and I was kind of in the same position. I might have lost a second to them, but I was relatively in the same position. I fought, and fought, and fought. I finally got what the gap was behind me. I kind of settled in and then I saw Richie (Escalante) on the ground and saw P2. I said, ‘Well, I’m just going to kind of bring her home clean right now.’ Actually, it kind of worked in my favor because I took it pretty easy on the tire at that point, which ended up giving me some tire at the end.”

Cameron Petersen – Third Place

“Something happened with the clutch from lap one,” Petersen said of his early race woes. “The rear chatter when doing downshifts was just incredible. I couldn’t get on the brakes. I couldn’t tip it into the corners. I was really struggling through the infield. The lead group got a little bit of a gap on me and that was pretty much it. We were forced to do three pit stops this race, which kind of put us a lap down. Lucky enough, my tires were pretty fresh. I think the lap the red flag came out, I was able to un-lap myself. So again, I got super lucky. But I don’t really know. Going into those last 10 laps, I had no idea where I was. Nobody told me anything. So, I just put my head down and tried to ride as fast as I could. Once again, I just got beat to the line.”