DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Heading into this weekend's 8 Hours At Daytona SunTrust MOTO-ST Series race at Daytona International Speedway, the sixth and final round of the 2007 schedule, here are some pre-race notes, story angles and interesting trends...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Heading into this weekend's 8 Hours At Daytona SunTrust MOTO-ST Series race at Daytona International Speedway, the sixth and final round of the 2007 schedule, here are some pre-race notes, story angles and interesting trends to follow:
DRESSED TO THE NINES: Pair-A-Nines Racing is a Hall of Fame effort in every sense of the word. The team is managed by Motorcycle Hall of Famer Gary Nixon, with the full season ST class effort piloted by Hall of Famers Jay Springsteen and Jimmy Filice. Springsteen and Filice currently hold a 29-point advantage in the ST (Sport Twins) class, earning wins on the road courses at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Iowa Speedway and the season-opener at Daytona last March.
Before his team manager days, Nixon won the 1967 and 1968 Grand National Championships, comprised of road racing and flat track events, but his specialty was the pavement. Springsteen captured three Grand National Championships and is known as one of the greatest flat trackers of all time, capturing 43 Grand National dirt track victories in a career that spanned over 30 years. Nixon and "Springer" both wore the number nine plate throughout their careers.
Filice was one of the fastest American riders ever to ride a 250cc motorcycle, and in 1988 became one of only four Americans to win a World Championship 250 Grand Prix race.
Springsteen and Filice will be joined on the No. 9 Pair-A-Nines Kawasaki EX650 for the 8 Hours At Daytona by Filice's son, Justin.
MR. DAYTONA COMES HOME: Scott Russell, nicknamed "Mr. Daytona" for his five wins in the Daytona 200, will make his motorcycle racing return this weekend at the 8 Hours At Daytona. The Conyers, Ga. native hasn't raced professionally since suffering injuries in a 2001 accident.
Not only fast at Daytona, Russell captured the 1992 AMA Superbike Championship and the 1993 World Superbike Championship. Russell also captured a win at the famous Suzuka Eight Hours endurance race.
Mr. Daytona will ride the No. 92 Pair-A-Nines Kawasaki 650 VERSYS this weekend with other riders to be named.
SBK AT DIS: Two-time Superbike World Champion Doug Polen makes his return to racing at this weekend's 8 Hours At Daytona, riding the No. 77 Touring Sport Ducati SS1000 with Pete Friedland and Frank Shockley. Polen was World Champion in 1991 and 1992 before returning home to capture the Superbike National Championship in 1993.
RUSSELL VS. POLEN, PART 2: The 8 Hours At Daytona SunTrust MOTO-ST race could shape up as a rematch of one of the most exciting Daytona 200 races of all time. Both Russell and Polen are competing in the GST (Grand Sport Twins) class this weekend.
In 1992, Russell scored his first of five wins in a photo finish at the famed race by making a slingshot move on his Kawasaki past Polen's Ducati to the checkered flag at the "World Center of Racing."
CHAMPIONSHIP BUSTERS: Two riders making their SunTrust MOTO-ST debut this weekend have an excellent shot of leaving with a win. Colombian Martin Cardenas and Venezuelan Robertino Pietri will ride the No. 3 Roadracingworld.com Suzuki SV1000S in the SST class, after successful summers of road racing.
The 26-year-old Cardenas established himself as one of the top motorcycle riders in the United States this summer after beginning the season riding an essentially stock motorcycle to a 12th place finish at Daytona in the Superbike class. Cardenas capitalized on a mid-season opportunity to earn a new ride and record four podium finishes late in the summer, competing for wins on a number of occasions. In 2005, Cardenas became the first Colombian to ever compete in a World Championship motorcycle race, recording two top-10s in two years in the highly competitive 250cc class.
Second-generation racer Pietri is the son of former Superbike racer Roberto Pietri and recorded a number of top-10 finishes in the 1000cc class this summer.
Cardenas and Pietri should have the equipment to compete for a win, as teammate Chris Ulrich finished second at the season-opener at Daytona and recorded a win at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS: SunTrust MOTO-ST Series riders Shawn Higbee and Brian Kcraget will return to action this weekend after an exciting finish to the last round at Iowa Speedway in July.
Both riders were involved in a fiery accident in Turn 2 late in that race and have made fast and full recoveries to return to action this weekend at Daytona. Higbee leads the GST class points battle by two points over Brad Phillips.
PROMOTIONAL PUSH: The off-the-track activities for the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series and the 8 Hours At Daytona kick into high gear this week with spectacular events at two local hot spots during the local scene's fall bike week.
Daytona Beach's famed Ocean Deck hosts Wednesday night's festivities, including SunTrust MOTO-ST competitors from Richie Morris Racing - among others - on hand to give away tickets and merchandise from 8 to 11 p.m.
On Thursday, the festivities will head to Hooligan's at Destination Daytona from 5 to 11 p.m. Riders from Team Rightsforbikers.com and Richie Morris Racing will give away gifts and prizes to those in attendance.