​Brandon Paasch Wins His 2nd Consecutive Daytona 200 In Dramatic Fashion

 

Brandon Paasch was a man with a plan. And he executed his plan perfectly, again, to clinch his second consecutive Daytona 200 win, this time astride a TOBC Racing Triumph.

Sometimes lightning does strike twice.

Brandon Paasch biding his time behind the front runners. Photo by Tim Lester Images.

After last year’s stunning upset of Sean Dylan Kelly at the finish line, .03 of a second separating them, the 2021 Daytona 200 defending champ came into this year’s endurance race with a new team, TOBC Racing, and a new motorcycle, a Triumph Street Triple RS. Paired with four-time Daytona 200 winner Danny Eslick, whose last win came on a TOBC Racing Triumph in 2014, Paasch and company put together a masterful plan for the world famous 57-lap, 200-mile endurance race, and set out to claim his second title.

At the green light, Paasch jumped out with a great start, leading an early lap, then did what few young riders (heck, few of us in general) seem capable of doing- he exercised patience. After a red-flagged restart 7 laps in, Paasch settled in behind the pack of front runners, which consisted of Josh Herrin, teammate Eslick, veteran champion Josh Hayes, South Africans Cameron Petersen and Sheldon Morais, Max Angles among others in the crazy race. The lead changed literally hundreds of times across the 57 laps, a rolling scrum of riders jostling for position. Yet Brandon Paasch hung back and waited.

Paasch in the mix: #96 with Hayes, Herrin, Petersen and Angles before, then Gillim, Morais, et al behind. Photo by Tim Lester Images.

The 200 consists of two pit stops, each after about 14-16 laps, for tires and fuel. Races can be won or lost in these, so it’s critical for teams to be quick and smooth. Several riders had time-consuming pit stops, Herrin and Eslick both ran out of gas coming in for one of their pits, but Paasch’s stops were fluid and fast. He even timed his pit-ins later than the others, first pitting in at the 20-lap mark then with only 12 laps remaining. At his final pit, Paasch only took fuel, no tire changes, and he quickly throttled back out into the melee of the closing moments.

The race winding down, Petersen, Morais and Paasch checking their pit boards. Photo by Tim Lester Images.

As the race wore down to the final laps, Paasch again settled in behind the frantic frontrunners, by this time Cam Petersen, Josh Hayes and Sheldon Morais, and bided his time in their draft. With race commentators exclaiming that he may not have enough tires left nor the gearing to pass the three Yamaha R6s ahead of him, Paasch nonetheless stalked his quarry, staying within striking distance of the pack, then he pounced on the last corner of the last lap. He reeled in Josh Hayes, closed on the South Africans down the front straight, then slingshot himself around them both at the checkered flag, snatching the win by .007th of a second. Absolutely incredible. A textbook replay of his last-ditch win over Kelly the previous year.

Paasch had patiently worked his plan, and it paid off.

The photo finish, Paasch, Petersen and Morais at the checkered. Hayes can be seen in the lower right. Photo by Tim Lester Images.

In the closing press conference, the 20-year old Paasch confided, “It’s Daytona, it’s a drafting game, sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t. For me, honestly, it was kind of ‘Sit there, wait.’ We didn’t change the tires at the second pit stop, so I was a little bit nervous about the tire wear, and Cam had a pretty big gap, so I was sitting behind Sheridan and Josh and I was like, ‘Alright, I see them close, I don’t know if I have enough time, but I’m going to do what I can do, and hopefully I can draft these through the line.’ I see Hayes up high, so I cut down below him, and I was in a prime spot, right behind the front two boys. Once they went, I was ‘Alright, it’s game time.’ The Triumph pulls really hard when you go to the gas, so I knew I was maybe going to have a chance at picking up mph a little quicker than them guys. It was just perfect, just like last year.”

A Triumphant Brandon Paasch holds aloft his second Daytona 200 trophy, surrounded by Cameron Petersen (2nd) and Sheldon Morais (3rd). Photo by Tim Lester Images.

For those who doubted the young man, who doubted the Triumph triple, who doubted the TOBC Racing team, a patient Brandon Paasch proved them all wrong. Again. And he has the title, the trophy, and the Rolex again to prove it.

All photos by Tim Lester Images

For the race in its entirety, watch it all here:

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