Chaz Davies wasted a front row starting position in his first ever race for the Attack Kawasaki team, but still came within one spot of finishing on the podium.
Third in qualifying for the 22-lap Supersport race at Daytona International Speedway, Davies botched the start, then nearly ran off the track with front brake troubles before a late race recovery.
Quickly learning how to use the draft on the long run from the chicane to the start-finish line, Chaz Davies picked off two riders on the final lap to finish fourth at the front of a very tight pack. From Davies to seventh place was covered by 0.263 secs.
“Happy that I got points, but not really,” Davies said of the race, which ran almost into darkness.
The race at the front was a cracker, with Yamaha’s Ben Bostrom, the eventual winner, and Josh Herrin battling Monster Kawasaki’s injured Roger Lee Hayden.
Hayden broke a bone in his wrist during a Superbike qualifying spill earlier in the day and was questionable for the race. But he soldiered on and even took the lead at one point.
That was on the 16th lap, and not across the stripe but on the infield, and by then Chaz Davies had already had his share of drama.
Eighth ending the first lap, Davies clawed his way back into contention, only to see himself balked by a backmarker on the 16th lap. A lap later he had a big scare when the front brake lever came back to the grip entering turn one.
“It (the brake lever) came right the way back to my hand and I was trying to turn it, trying to turn it and I got to the white line and when I was on the white line I managed to turn it and by then I let everyone through,” Davies said.
Not everyone, but two riders, and by now they were thick with traffic and the laps were winding down as ominous dark clouds threatened to bring the race to a halt.
“It just seemed to happen all of a sudden, it just went black,” Davies said.
“And I had, obviously, the darkest visor on. It felt like it was going to rain, it looked like it was going to rain.
“But anyway, I think we got pretty lucky with the weather. But it was hard work to see with the dark visor.
The final run to the flag is the most critical in a tight race at Daytona and Davies positioned himself to take advantage of the drafting opportunities.
“I knew where I needed to be to beat them out in a drag race, and it panned out all right in the end. I planned it quite good on the back straight.
“I backed off and stayed behind Steve (Rapp). Let him sort of tow me and he sort of sling-shotted to Martin (Cardenas) and I sling-shotted past Martin.”
Yamaha’s Josh Herrin tried the same approach on his teammate Ben Bostrom, but to no avail. In preparation for the Supersport wars, the much taller Bostrom spent the off-season shedding 14 lbs.
The difference showed in the run to the line, with Ben Bostrom edging his younger teammate by a scant 0.012 secs.
“I didn’t know I had the thing won at all,” Bostrom said.
“Josh (Herrin) and I had a fantastic plan going into it, but you know a plan doesn’t really pan out all the time.
“At one point, we got in first and second, and I gave him a thumbs up and I told him let’s do it.”
Roger Lee Hayden was 3.221 seconds back in third.
“I tore a ligament and knocked some bone off my wrist, so I just kind of taped it for the race,” Hayden said.
“Once the green flag dropped I didn’t notice it. It wasn’t really a problem.
“My elbow is pretty swelled up but nothing too crazy.
“I didn’t really even notice it until I stopped, and then I said ‘my hand hurts’. I guess the adrenaline rush is the best pain medicine there is.”
1. Ben Bostrom, Yamaha YZF-R6
2. Josh Herrin, Yamaha YZF-R6
3. Roger Hayden, Kawasaki ZX-6R
4. Chaz Davies, Kawasaki ZX-6R
5. Blake Young, Suzuki GSX-R600
6. Martin Cardenas, Suzuki GSX-R600
7. Steve Rapp, Kawasaki ZX-6R
8. Jake Zemke, Honda CBR600RR
9. Tommy Hayden, Suzuki GSX-R600
10. Danny Eslick, Suzuki GSX-R600
11. Bobby Fong, Suzuki GSX-R600
12. Aaron Gobert, Honda CBR600RR
13. Joshua Day, Yamaha YZF-R6
14. Garrett D. Carter, Suzuki GSX-R600
15. Nicky Moore, Kawasaki ZX-6R
16. Michael Beck, Yamaha YZF-R6
17. Joshua Hayes, Honda CBR600RR
18. Rob Frost Honda, CBR600RR
19. Cory West, Suzuki GSX-R600
20. Ricky Corey, Yamaha YZF-R6
21. Fernando Amantini, Kawasaki ZX-6R
22. Gabor Rizmayer, Suzuki GSX
23. Dominic Jones, Honda CBR600RR
24. Eduard Alberts, Honda CBR600RR
25. Chris L. Siebenhaar, Suzuki GSX- R600
26. Josh R. Galster, Kawasaki ZX-6R
27. Bostjan Skubic, Yamaha YZF-R6
28. Ryan Patterson, Yamaha YZF-R6
29. Matt J. Hall, Yamaha YZF-R6
30. Eric Pinson, Yamaha YZF-R6
31. Jonas McCluskey, Yamaha YZF-R6
32. Matthew Layt, Honda CBR600RR
33. Payton Sassaman, Yamaha YZF-R6
34. James Digiandomenico, Yamaha YZF-R6
35. Lance Yeager, Yamaha YZF-R6
36. Dan Ortega, Yamaha YZF-R6
37. Jeffrey Purk, Yamaha YZF-R6
38. Skip Salenius, Suzuki GSX-R600
39. Blake Kelly, Honda CBR600RR
40. Patrick R. Johnson, Yamaha YZF-R6
41. Misti Hurst, Kawasaki ZX-6R
42. Brett Sassaman, Yamaha YZF-R6
43. Scott Decker, Suzuki GSX-R600
44. Bostjan Pintar, Yamaha YZF-R6
45. Taylor Knapp, Kawasaki ZX-6R
46. Ryan A. Clay, Yamaha YZF-R6
47. Shea D. Fouchek, Honda CBR600RR
48. John Orchard, Yamaha YZF-R6