Corona Extra Honda’s Neil Hodgson opened his American Superbike season with a strong second place finish on a sunny afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.
Riding in the lime and yellow Corona colors for the first time, Hodgson qualified fourth and gated well, hooking up with the lead quartet before taking the lead on lap 6 of 15.
Hodgson held the lead for one more lap before being passed by Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin entering turn one on the next lap.
Then Hodgson came under attack from behind by Mladin’s teammate and Nicky Hayden’s brother, Tommy Hayden. Hayden was in second going into the chicane on the last lap, only to get held up by lapped riders. Hodgson closed the gap and ran down Hayden for the photo finish second, officially finishing .001 secs. in front.
“I was definitely pleased with that,” Hodgson said after finishing 1.026 secs. behind Mladin. “It’s nice to be battling for a win. I’ve not had that opportunity for the last few years. Just pleased for the team because everybody has put a lot of effort in behind the scenes. It has been 12 hour days for everybody. So, it’s nice for me to do my job.
“Obviously I want to win. After a race like that, I can sit down with my crew chief and see where we need to improve the bikes. there’s certainly some areas that I need to improve the bike, but in general I’m pretty happy with that.”
Celtic Racing Suzuki rider Michael Laverty also had a good day, finishing 9th in his first ever AMA superbike race.