It was a special year at Daytona International Speedway this past year as Saturday, March 7th marked the 50th Annual Daytona Supercross and in no way did it disappoint. The titanic titlefight between Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac has exceeded expectations as many fans have waited years for a championship showdown between these two heavyweights. The battle couldn’t have been closer as the two of them shared the red plate heading into the tenthround of the Monster Energy Supercross Championship, sitting at even odds on two hundred total points. Roczen took an early lead but Tomac charged until the checkered flag, picking off multiple competitors before eventually taking over the race lead and control of the championship. Meanwhile, a contingent of amateur motocross competitors that dream of racing Saturday night under the lights at the world-famous speedway watched from the bleachers and grandstands, studying the riders and the track as they prepared for practice on Sunday morning. The following two days are reserved for the Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross while Tuesday has been filled with Daytona Vintage Supercross as well as the AMA ATV Pro Championship.
The track is toned down from what the pros race on Saturday night and the incredibly unique 360-degree start was the first thing to go as the track crew did their best to make the circuit safe and raceable for the amateur riders ready to do battle. The stars of tomorrow were out in full force at the Daytona RCSX, scoping out the professional scene on Saturday as they prepare for their time under the bright lights in just a few year’s time. Seth Hammaker returned to Daytona International Speedway after sweeping both A classes last year, returning to action after a shoulder injury kept him out of the majority of the 2019 season. He was matched up with Cullin Park, fresh out of the B class, and aiming to make waves on the big stage in his A class debut. Nate Thrasher and Kaeden Amerineled the charge in the B class while Gage Linville and Gage Stine continued their battles from the previous season, banging bars in the 125cc (12-17) and Schoolboy 1 classes. The Supermini divisions were arguably the most stacked classes in the paddock at the Daytona RCSX, featuring a slew of Team Dunlop Elite riders that do not settle for anything less than victory every time they hit the gate. Ryder DiFrancesco, Gavin Towers, Daxton Bennick, and Casey Cochran are just a few of the riders vying for Supermini supremacy this year, not to mention the likes of Jayden Clough and Julien Beaumer also mixing it up at the front of the pack. Cochran dominated the Mini Sr ranks and his fellow Team Dunlop Elite rider, Drew Adams, put himself atop the younger contingentof the 85cc field alongside Luke Fauser. Seth Dennis and Canyon Richards continued their rivalry from the 65cc class last year while Tayce Morgan burst onto the scene in the 51cc (7-8) class with an electric Main Event win while Jaydin Smart picked up where he left off at the end of the 2019 season with the 51cc (4-6) Championship. Let’s take a closer look at some select classes from the 11th Annual Daytona RCSX and dissect some of the battles on the track to see where the races were really won.
There’s no better place to start than the A class, one step away from featuring under the lights at the famed Daytona International Speedway, but not quite there yet. Nonetheless, there was still a supreme level of talent on display and not a whole lot in terms ofthe track design to separate the competitors from one another. The track was designed by Ricky Carmichael as an ode to the historic tracks of Daytona gone by, featuring iconic obstacles from a various number of course designs throughout the years. It produced something special for the rider’s on Saturday night, but the elimination of the sand and the changes to the rhythm sections overnight put even more emphasis on the start as the track developed one fast line, making it difficult to pass. In the 250 A class, Cullin Park and Seth Hammaker separated themselves from the rest of the field with wins in their respective heat races, setting them up with prime gate picks for the all-important Main Event. They both executed their jump out of the gate to near perfection and fought well through the first turn, but a mistake from Hammaker over the first jump gifted Park an uncontested lead, consequently forcing himself to start from dead last in the process. Although it may have been difficult to find passing opportunities for a majority of the riders, Hammaker proved as he did last year when he won by nearly thirty seconds, he’s in a class of his own. The Team Green Kawasaki rider carved his way from 22nd to 3rd by the sixth lap, setting the fastest lap of the race after finally gaining some clear track. Meanwhile, Park rode calm and collected out front as he clocked consistent lap times until he began to encounter lap traffic. There was a possibility that the lappers would help Hammaker and he’d be able to close the gap to the lead, but another mistake at the halfway mark of the race ruined his chances at the win. Park did well to manage the race from the front, never having to push the pace at any point on his way to a seven-second victory. Hammaker showcased his rawspeed and racecraft as he recovered to a 2nd place finish while Jack Rogers finished in 3rd. In the Open A class, Park and Hammaker both won their respective heat races and therefore established themselves as the guys to beat in the Main Event. The start looked similar with both Park and Hammaker finding their way to the front through the opening chicane as both of them settled into the top five on the first lap. Park was able to make a move for the lead in the early running while Hammaker made a few carefully engineered passes to put himself on the rear fender of the Yamaha rider. They sized each other up for the majority of the race as Hammaker studied each and every passing opportunity, plotting the best location to make his move. Park found another gearcompared to his 250 A moto and rode an incredibly impressive race to keep Hammaker at bay until he was forced to relinquish the position on the eleventh lap. Nonetheless, there was only a .3 second difference between their fastest lap times compared to a difference of more than two seconds in the 250 A Main Event. Hammaker proved to be the top dog in the A class for the second year running in terms of speed, but Park demonstrated both speed and composure as he ran with the momentum from his B class finale at Mini Os last year.
The B Class was equally as entertaining with some fantastic battles between Nate Thrasher, Kaeden Amerine, and Jack Chambers along with many others, setting lap times on par with the front runners in the A class. One of the first motos on the schedule Monday morning, the 250 B class set the tone for the remainder of the day with some exceptionally close and intense racing similar to what you’d expect to see on any given Saturday night. Thrasher and Gabriel Andrigo took the first two gate picks by way of victories in their heat races, but neither of them was able to translate that success into the start of the Main Event. Amerine escaped from the pack through the opening roller section alongside the finish line of the Nascar course in the lead and Chambers followed shortly behind as the two of them began to separate from the rest of the field. Amerine demonstrated robotic consistency on his EBR Performance backed Yamaha, lapping within tenths each and every lap as he maintained a comfortable buffer between himself and 2nd position. Meanwhile, Thrasher was buried outside of the top twenty and eventually clawed himself back to 11th position at the finish line, clocking the fastest lap of the race on the final lap. Amerine held on for the victory as he reached the checkered flag first and Chambers finished cooly in 2nd position with Slade Smith rounding out the podium. Thrasher was the winner of the one and only Heat in the Schoolboy 2 division, earning the first gate pick which ultimately set him up for success when the gate dropped. The Orange Brigade rider was able to pull the holeshot and take advantage of the clear track. Chambers recovered from the 17th gate pick and was able to secure a solid start, forcing himself into 2nd position atthe beginning of the race. The two of them circulated within a couple of seconds of one another up until the halfway point of the Main Event, but a larger gap began to form once they hit lapped traffic. Chambers was able to snag the fastest lap of the race by a few hundredths of a second but Thrasher was able to hold on for the victory, securing the number one plate in the Schoolboy 2 class. Dylan Cunha rounded out the podium.
If you asked anyone along the fencelines in the know which class they were most excited to watch at the Daytona RCSX, they’d most likely mention the Supermini division. Ryder DiFrancesco moved up to the class fulltime to take on his Team Green and Team Dunlop Elite teammate, Gavin Towers, while the likes of Daxton Bennick and Casey Cochran also graduated to the Supermini ranks. Mix in the proven speed of Julien Beaumer, Jayden Clough, and Trip Rexroat and you have some of the most high-quality entertainment you’ll find throughout your entire Daytona Bike Week adventure. In the Supermini 1 class, Towers took the heat race win ahead of Beaumer and Bennick while DiFrancesco suffered a bike malfunction, hindering his gate pick for the Main Event. The importance of the first few corners is just as important in the mini-classes, demonstrated by Towers and Bennick as they took advantage of their advantageous gate picks to start out front. The Team Green Kawasaki rider made a quick pass into the lead as he aimed to pull away as quickly as possible, but DiFrancesco had other plans. The Californian pushed forward from a 5th place start and found himself on the rear fender of his teammate as the pair of them began to navigate lapped traffic. DiFrancesco clocked the fastest lap of the race by half of a second on his way to the front of the field, but the Pennsylvanian was prepared to stand his ground in 1st place. It looked as though it was going to come down to a last-lap duel with the overtaking opportunities shrinking each corner, but the two of them came together in a braking zone and DiFrancesco hit the deck, picking himself up in 9th position. Towers went on to take the win while Bennick finished 2nd and Clough rounded out the podium in 3rd. In the Supermini 2 class, DiFrancesco was able to take the win in the Heat race and he was determined to translate that same success to the Main Event. He was able to execute the start just as he planned and pulled out to an early lead, growing his advantage each lap as he eventually won by nearly eight seconds at the checkered flag. Clough pushed through the pack to finish in 2nd position and Ivan Aldama Jr. fought valiantly from outside the top five to finish in 3rd place.
In the 65cc ranks, Seth Dennis came out on top in both the (10-11) and the (7-11) class with a consistent display of raw speed and his signature send-it style. The Florida native certainly looked comfortable on home soil as he rocketed out to a holeshot in both classes. The Orange Brigade backed rider was able to set the fastest lap en route to both victories, but the (7-11) Main Event was not an easy win as it came down to the wire after a battle with Canyon Richards. The Yamaha rider stalked the Team Dunlop Elite backed competitor from one lap to the next, but he never came within striking distance as Dennis was too consistent and effective through the lappers. Jonathan Getz kept both of them honest at the beginning of the race and held on for 3rd position at the checkered flag. In the 65cc (7-9) class, Wyatt Duff came out on top with a commanding wire-to-wire win while Christopher Harris and Travis Johnsmeyer finished 2nd and 3rd. In the 51cc (7-8) Limited class, Tayce Morgan put Utah back on the map after his fellow statesmen, Garrett Marchbanks, won his first 250SX Main Event on Saturday night. The #810 Cobra rider stormed out of the gate to an early lead and never looked back, clocking multiple laps faster than his competitor’s best on his way to the number one plate while Gauge Brown and Tatem Michaels rounded out the podium in 2nd and 3rd, respectively. In the 51cc (4-6) Limited class, Jaydin Smart performed a disappearing act on the competition and overcame a late-race scare where he tipped over and couldn’t get the bike started, but he still managed a margin of victory exceeding thirty seconds. Eli Schneider came across the finish line in 2nd position and Gavyn Welzien completed the podium in 3rd position.