DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Aug. 19, 2003) - Four-time and defending Daytona 200 By Arai champion Miguel Duhamel returned to Daytona International Speedway on Tuesday to take part in a three-day Dunlop tire test. While the Canadian rider was focused...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Aug. 19, 2003) - Four-time and defending Daytona 200 By Arai champion Miguel Duhamel returned to Daytona International Speedway on Tuesday to take part in a three-day Dunlop tire test.
While the Canadian rider was focused on helping Dunlop develop tires for next year's Daytona 200, he was also beginning to set his sights on winning a record fifth Daytona 200 By Arai.
After winning his fourth Daytona 200 By Arai earlier this year, Duhamel is now a win away from tying "Mr. Daytona" Scott Russell, whose five victories tops the wins list.
Being able to handle the pressure of tying Russell is not a concern to Duhamel, who also has a record six Daytona Supersport victories on his resume.
"There's so little control about that in my hands. It's really speculation," Duhamel said. "Obviously, I'm going to show up and we're going to have a new bike. It's going to be fast. I think our odds here are going to be pretty good."
Joining Duhamel for the three-day tire test in preparation for the 2004 Daytona 200 By Arai were Bostrom and Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin and Aaron Yates.
"Dunlop needs to test a lot of tires so our bike testing gets kind of put aside," Duhamel said. "We're basically here to work really hard to get better tires for next year for all of the riders. We got picked by Dunlop to come here and torture their tires."
But before the test got underway, Duhamel took time to reminisce about his fourth Daytona 200 By Arai triumph this past March at the "World Center of Racing."
"Back to the scene of the crime," said Duhamel with a laugh, referring to the thrilling three-bike duel to the checkered flag between himself, Ben Bostrom and Kurtis Roberts. "You can't top that without a script. Three Honda bikes, three good friends out there racing. Last lap, we all put our heads down and I was lucky enough to come out on top."
Duhamel, Bostrom and Roberts, all riding Honda RC51s, were running nose-to-tail in the final laps of the historic and prestigious motorcycle race.
On the final heart-pounding lap exiting the chicane, Duhamel passed Roberts in NASCAR Turn 3 and then ducked underneath Bostrom coming out of NASCAR Turn 4 to nip him at the start/finish line by a tire. The margin of victory was a slim .069 seconds and one of the most memorable finishes in the race's 62-year history.
The Dunlop tire test continues on Wednesday. The test is free and open to the public with access to the Oldfield Grandstand available through DAYTONA USA, the official attraction of NASCAR.
For ticket information for next year's Daytona 200 Week, call the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.