Courtesy of AMA Pro Racing
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 20, 2014) - While still early, the 2014 AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson title battle is already taking shape as the season resumes this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., for the Triumph SuperBike Classic.
The man in command is Tyler O’Hara on the No. 29 Josh Chisum Racing/Bartels Harley-Davidson XR1200. O’Hara is one of the most decorated riders in the category’s history, with seven race wins and six poles to his name – both just one shy of the all-time record.
And while O’Hara has never finished outside the championship top three during his time in the class, the Californian is still seeking his first AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson crown. Similarly, O’Hara has landed on the box in each of his three previous attempts at Barber Motorsports Park, but he has yet to climb atop the podium at the beautiful 2.38-mile, 14-turn road course.
O’Hara will look to correct those near-misses this time around, but it won’t be easy with a deep field of talented contenders to deal with.
His two closest championship competitors, Gage McAllister, pilot of the No. 51 Folsom Harley-Davidson XR1200, and Danny Eslick aboard the No. 69 Ruthless Racing Harley-Davidson XR1200, offer starkly contrasting threats.
Second-ranked McAllister showed flashes of greatness during his rookie season in 2013 and the teenager has taken another big step forward this year. He came out swinging with a runner-up result at the Daytona opener and backed that up with another top five at Road America. As a result, he currently owns 41 points, just seven behind O’Hara’s class-leading 48.
One point further back is the immensely experienced and talented Eslick. The Oklahoman won the inaugural AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson title in 2010 and also boasts a pair of AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike championships. Additionally, Eslick has earned podiums in classes ranging from AMA Pro SuperBike to SuperSport to Formula Xtreme during his AMA Pro career that has spanned more than a decade.
Despite the presence of O’Hara, McAllister and Eslick, the two men who might be considered the most likely to win this weekend aren’t even ranked in the championship top five.
Kyle Wyman on the No. 33 KWR/Millennium Technologies Harley-Davidson XR1200has displayed remarkable form in 2014, taking the checkered flag first in both outings thus far. However, a Daytona DNF sees Wyman playing catch-up, as he’s currently sixth, some 18 points behind O’Hara. Wyman has an impressive history at Barber Motorsports Park, racing to the 2012 race win by 0.047 seconds over O’Hara.
There is also defending series champion and BMP race winner Steve Rapp aboard the No. 1 Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson XR1200. Rapp’s title defense has gotten off to a nightmarish start. He retired early after taking the pole at Daytona and then crashed out of contention for victory at Road America after showcasing tremendous pace at the front.
While he sits 23rd in the points, Rapp is a threat to win every time he throws his leg over an XR1200. That’s especially true at Barber Motorsports Park, where he edged current HMC/KTM Racing SuperBike pilot Chris Fillmore for the win in 2011, then won going away at the venue last season.
While Rapp has struggled early in 2014, his teammates, Ben Carlson on the No. 45 Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson XR1200 and Nick Hansen,riding the No. 97 Aerostar Global Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson XR1200, have done well to keep the Suburban Motors team in contention. Carlson is currently ranked fourth, one point behind Eslick, while Hansen rounds out the championship top five heading into Alabama.
Class upstarts Eric Stump on the No. 77 OPR/Liberty Chevrolet Hard-Davidson XR1200, Hayden Schultz aboard the No. 59 Chili Pepper Racing Harley-Davidson XR1200, and Ryan Kerr No. 28 Thunder Roads Magazine Harley-Davidson XR1200, hold down seventh through ninth, respectively. Series veteran David Estok and his No. 123 Thrashed Bike Racing Harley-Davidson XR1200 round out the top ten.
The AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series will first hit the track on Saturday, June 21 at 10:20 a.m. local time (11:20 ET and 8:20 PT) for its opening practice. Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning qualifying sessions will set the grid, and then the class will kick off Sunday’s race action with its 11-lap contest at 12:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m. ET and 10:15 a.m. PT).
How to Watch
FansChoice.tv is the official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Road Racing and AMA Pro Flat Track events in 2014. The site also provides coverage of IMSA’s development and single-make series, and NASCAR’s touring and weekly series.