Daytona International Speedway knows nail-biting finishes as well as any other track. It doesn’t matter if it’s the NASCAR Cup Series, IMSA and the Rolex 24, or, in the case of bike racing, the historic Daytona 200. If you need proof, just check out the last lap from this past weekend’s ASRA event where the top two riders finished side-by-side.
Brandon Paasch, rider of the No. 96 Yamaha R6, started the race’s 57th lap behind Sean Dylan Kelly and his No. 40 Suzuki GSXR. As is the case with stock cars, these sportbikes are able to draft beautifully on Daytona’s banked turns while also enjoying plenty of spots to pass. When you’re looking to create some checkered flag drama, though, you wait until the home stretch.
Paasch tucked behind Kelly after passing the white flag, leaning into Turn 1 as they stormed toward the International Horseshoe. It takes a ton of composure to nail this series of turns and bends, especially after riding nearly 200 miles at full-tilt. Regardless, the two stayed close together as they approached the banking.
Leading up to the Bus Stop chicane, Paasch and Kelly encountered traffic. Still in first place, Kelly built a decent lead that would quickly be erased by Paasch’s late braking, once again putting him within striking distance as the pair wheelied out of the corner.
Entering NASCAR Turn 4, the pair relied on their 600cc machines to push them past the finish line quicker than their rival. Though it looked like Paasch waited a dangerously long time to make his move, he scooted to the inside of Kelly’s line and took the podium’s top step by half a bike length.
You might not even have known there was a bike race at Daytona last week, but as you can see, the action is oftentimes just as close if not closer than the main car series that run there. Plus, there was no six-hour rain delay to speak of.
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