After 13-year dry spell, Herrin takes the win and the Rolex
DAYTONA, FL (March 11, 2023) – Thirteen years ago, a younger Josh Herrin won his first Daytona 200. Unfortunately, back then it was the pole sitter who was awarded the coveted Daytona 200 commemorative Rolex watch, and Herrin didn’t start the race from pole. Thus, no Rolex. When it changed to the race winner getting the Rolex, Herrin started earning poles but not wins. Saturday he got it all, winning the 81st running of the Daytona 200 and snagging his second D200 victory. And the Rolex.
The 13 years between wins for Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC’s Herrin is the longest gap between Daytona wins in the history of the race. The previous longest timespan between wins was seven years for Eddie Lawson, who won the race in 1986 and not again until 1993. Herrin’s victory on the Ducati Panigale V2 was also the Italian marque’s second win in the 200 with Jason DiSalvo winning on a Team Latus Ducati 848 EVO in 2011.
Racers throttling up the Daytona high banks early in the race. Photos by Tim Lester Images.
Herrin was at or near the front of the lead pack for the duration of the 200 and with nine laps to go it looked like a two-rider shootout between Herrin and his Ducati Panigale V2 and the Suzuki GSX-R750 of Mission M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Richie Escalante. Those two had seemingly broken the spirit of the rest of the field, and there was a gap back to 3rd-placed Josh Hayes and his Squid Hunter Racing Yamaha YZF-R6.
A lap later, however, Escalante hit the deck and was out of the race after the pair collided in turn 1. That left Herrin alone at the front, but with five laps to go the red flag came out on the 52nd lap when Teagg Hobbs and Jason Waters crashed together in the International Horseshoe. “We were on I think after the final pitstop, and I had been seeing just different spots that I could overtake if I needed to,” Herrin explained of his run-in with Escalante. “His bike was a missile, especially on the first banking. I had to get a really good run out to get him into the chicane because he was really good coming out of the chicane. That was one of the spots where I thought would be a possibility and it would kind of throw him off of his rhythm. With the last however many laps to go, I just saw an opening and wanted to try it. As far as I was concerned, I was there and had the line. I felt the contact and looked back. I didn’t see him, but I wasn’t positive if he had gone down or not. When I came around the next time, I saw him out there flipping me off. So I figured that something had happened.”
The front pack early in the race- (L-R) 2021/22 D200 winner Brandon Paasch (69), Josh Herrin (1), Danny Eslick (96), Josh Hayes (4), Richie Escalante (54), and PJ Jacobson (66); Josh Herrin chasing down Richie Escalante on the high banks. Photos by Tim Lester Images.
The Daytona 200 rulebook states: “For the Daytona 200, the number of laps of the second race will be the number of laps required to complete the original race distance of fifty-seven (57) laps but shall not be less than ten (10) laps.” Thus, the race would end up being 62 laps and 217.62 miles. “I was freaking out,” Herrin later said when asked about the red flag and restart. “My neck was destroyed just from sitting on the banking for that long. We didn’t put a pad, which we should have. I didn’t think about it. After 57 laps, your neck just sitting there holding it up the whole time, I was wrecked. When they added five laps I was panicking because at that point I knew it was going to be a sprint to the finish, and I didn’t think I had the legs to get the win.” Herrin meanwhile had been penalized six spots on the grid of the restart because of his altercation with Escalante.
The 10-lap sprint after the restart featured a horde of seven riders at the front, but it was Herrin at the pointy end when it mattered as he won the drafting war to beat Hayes by .070 of a second. Two-time and defending Daytona 200 winner Brandon Paasch actually crossed the finish in a tight 2nd, inching out Josh Hayes by a nose, but was bumped to 12th after being penalized 15 seconds at the end of the race for a pit lane speed violation. Blake Davis suffered a similar fate and was dropped to 11th in the final standings. Both riders raced at the front of the pack in the restarted portion of the race, but their penalties were applied at the completion of the race, per the rulebook. Attack Performance Yamaha’s Cameron Petersen was awarded third, .140 behind Herrin at the checkered.
The caravan carving deep through the infield. Photo by Tim Lester Images.
Fourth place went to Disrupt Racing’s Hayden Gillim, who would later protest the results believing that Petersen didn’t actually finish third. His protest was denied. Gillim had fought back after crashing with 20 laps to go and remounting. PJ Jacobsen finished fifth and just .439 of a second behind Herrin. Jacobsen also got new life thanks to the restart after crashing and remounting on the 31st lap. Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Hobbs was sixth after his team rebuilt his crashed bike. Disrupt Racing’s Geoff May, TOBC Racing’s Danny Eslick, TSE/Truelove Brothers Racing’s Matt Truelove and Farrell Performance’s Jason Farrell rounded out the top 10.
The incredible and controversial finish, tense closing race moments in the HSBK pit. Photo by Tim Lester Images.
The weekend in Daytona was filled with amazing racing, from Mission King of the Baggers two races dominated by Harley-Davidson riders and teams, a pair of exciting REV’IT! Twins Cup races, and two thrilling Mission Super Hooligan National Championship races as well, won by Indian Motorcycle rider Tyler O’Hara.
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*Photos by Tim Lester Images
The 2023 Daytona 200 final podium- 2nd place Josh Hayes (L), Josh Herrin with trophy (C), and Cameron Petersen in 3rd (L). Photo by Tim Lester Images.