DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (March 4, 2003) - Anyone who thinks they can predict the winner of the Daytona Short Track should be working as an odds maker in Las Vegas. The fact is the AMA Grand National season opener held at Daytona Beach's Municipal ...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (March 4, 2003) - Anyone who thinks they can predict the winner of the Daytona Short Track should be working as an odds maker in Las Vegas. The fact is the AMA Grand National season opener held at Daytona Beach's Municipal Stadium is easily the most unpredictable race of Daytona 200 Week. This year's Short Track, held on Saturday, March 8, will be even more intriguing this year since Suzuki will enter a factory team riding DRZ400-based flat trackers.
Over the years Daytona's Short Track has earned a reputation as a race that commonly produces surprising winners. Steve Aseltine (1989), Brett Landes (1995) and Richard Winsett (2002) all earned their only AMA national victories at Daytona. Winsett's win last March in Daytona was called the most surprising upset in a season full of unexpected races.
Winsett was a relatively unknown rider coming into last year's race, but regardless of what he does the rest of his career the rider from Bainbridge, Pa., will always have the title of Daytona winner associated with his name.
While Daytona frequently produces first-time winners, at least two riders are hoping that won't be the case in 2003. Both Chris Carr, the defending AMA champ, and the venerable Terry Poovey are shooting to become three-time winners of the Municipal Stadium race. Carr won in 1992 and again in 1994 and has been trying for his third Daytona win ever since.
"Half the time it seems like I'm simply hoping to do damage control at Daytona," said Carr, the four-time AMA Grand National Champion who rides with Ford sponsorship. "The nature of the track and the diversity of the field makes Daytona one of the most difficult races of the year. If you happen to get a good bike set-up and have a little luck on your side, then there's a chance. I'd love to get my third win there. It's coming up on almost 10 years since I've won the race, so I'd say I'm due."
Poovey, at 44, is one of the oldest riders on the circuit. The popular Texan has only finished ranked in the AMA top-10 once in the last decade, but he's always a leading contender at Daytona. Poovey has scored podium finishes at Daytona three times in the last five years, including his most recent victory in 2000.
"I've been fortunate to be able to do well at Daytona over the year," Poovey says. "There are just a few of us still racing that ran in the races at the old stadium. I really can't explain why I've done so well at Daytona, but it's one of the events I really enjoy and look forward to."
This year Suzuki joins the fray at Municipal Stadium. Suzuki race director Pat Alexander said the factory will work with Dave Burks Motorsports, with additional backing from Corbin, to contest the 2003 season with riders Kevin Varnes, A.J. Eslick and Danny Eslick.
"Suzuki is committed to testing, which we'll be starting in a few weeks," said Varnes, who finished third at Daytona in 2001 and 2002. "I think we're going to be in a position where, with the Daytona Short Track coming up in March, we can be competitive. I think we can go down to Daytona and pull off a win right away."
In addition to the AMA Grand National on Saturday night, Municipal Stadium will also host an AMA National Hot Shoe Series race on Friday, March 7.
Stadium or Daytona International Speedway, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.