Nicky Hayden Dominates To Win Daytona 200 By Arai DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (March 10, 2002)& ...
Nicky Hayden Dominates To Win Daytona 200 By Arai
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (March 10, 2002)– Nicky Hayden of Owensboro, Ky., delivered a dominating performance aboard his No. 69 American Honda to capture his first Daytona 200 By Arai victory on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.
"It feels so good," Hayden said. "That race was so long. Growing up as a kid, this is what I dreamed about. This is what I went to bed thinking about. To win it, it's just an incredible feeling. It feels really good."
Hayden dueled with Kurtis Roberts in the early going of the 57-lap event, but Roberts fell out of contention when he cut his rear tire on Lap 24. After that, Hayden put his Honda RC51 on cruise control and led the rest of the way for a 18.225-second victory in the 61st running of the event.
It's the eighth victory for Honda and the first since 1996. For Hayden, it was only his third start in North America's most prestigious motorcycle race and at the age of 20, he becomes the youngest winner of the Daytona 200 By Arai since 1976.
Rounding out the podium was Yoshimura Suzuki's Jamie Hacking and Yamaha's Anthony Gobert. Hacking nipped Gobert at the start/finish line for second.
Said Hacking: "I knew I had the motor to catch him."
The win is a sweet recovery for Hayden, who high sided his bike after winning the pole during Thursday's Daytona 200 By Arai qualifying session. He says the final laps of Sunday's race seemed to last forever, and to add to the pressure, he lost a contact lens from his left eye.
"I didn't think it was going to end," Hayden said. "That race seemed so long. One lap after another and with seven laps to go I had a contact lens come out. I was just waiting for it to be over."
Miguel Duhamel, a three-time race winner and a favorite for another victory, led two laps early in the race before dropping out with a mechanical failure.
"I was doing nothing out there," said Duhamel, who rides the No. 17 American Honda. "I wasn't even going full throttle. I was trying to save my tires. I wasn't even trying. It's amazing. The bike was perfect. I don't know what happen to it."
In other action on Sunday, Chuck Sorensen, riding a Aprilia, posted his first victory at Daytona International Speedway, winning the MBNA 250 Grand Prix. Five-time race winner Rich Oliver opted to sit out the race because of injuries suffered in a practice incident earlier in the week.
"It's been a dream of mine to win Daytona," said Sorensen, who posted his first win in the series in two years. "I've had the visions of spraying the champagne on top of the podium and now I realize that and it's very satisfying. It's especially satisfying after working hard of the winter and putting together this program.
In Buell Pro Thunder, Kirk McCarthy rode a Ducati to victory, outlasting Mike Ciccotto and Michael Barnes.
Two-wheel thunder will return to the Speedway on Oct. 17-20 for Fall Cycle Scene. Tickets for all Speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.