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Eslick looks to take Sportbike lead at VIR

Danny Eslick needs to finish the season with a big push if he is to win the AMA Daytona SportBike championship. This weekend’s Daytona SportBike doubleheader at this weekend’s Suzuki White Lightning AMA Pro SuperBike Nationals presented by Foremost Insurance at Alton’s VIRginia International Raceway is just the place reigning Daytona SportBike champion needs to be to start that late-season push.

“We’re down to the last three races of the year and I’m sitting one point out of the championship coming into VIR,” said Eslick, who trails class points leader Josh Herrin 264-263 heading into this weekend’s action on VIR’s 2.25-mile North Course.

“VIR is a track that I’ve done pretty good at and I like. Hopefully we can keep the momentum from the last couple of races going and try to get back up there like we were at Mid-Ohio and get another win under our belt.”

Eslick has not finished out of the top five this season and VIR is a layout that suits Eslick’s style of racing.

“It’s a fast racetrack,” Eslick said of VIR.

“I like that part of it. It’s kind of tough to pass, which I think benefits the more aggressive riders.”

The AMA Daytona SportBike class has the largest field of riders among the three major AMA classes that will be in action this weekend at VIR. That, Eslick says, makes it a tough class in terms of competition.

“It’s been tough,” Eslick pointed out.

“Our class has a super deep field. There are eight guys that I think are capable of winning the race on any given day. There have been some really good battles all the way down to the checkered flag. I’m sure VIR won’t be any different.”

While a deep field of riders will surround Eslick, his primary concern in this weekend’s doubleheader at VIR is Herrin, who has four wins compared to two wins for Eslick.

Martin Cardenas, who sits third in the standings and trails Eslick by 11 points, could also be a big player this weekend. Cardenas, who leads the class in the win column with six victories, could tighten the chase for the class championship with a pair of wins.

Eslick said the key for him to have a good weekend is simply to get things started off on the right foot and take advantage of every opportunity to grab points.
“It will be important to get our bike set up early in the weekend,” pointed out Eslick. “Getting the front end setup right and having a really good setup for the race is going to be a big key.

“We also need to qualify well and get good starts,” added Eslick.

“In any racing, you want to get as many points as possible. One point for a pole, one point for leading the most laps, things like that definitely add up in the long run.”

Eslick won the Daytona SportBike championship last year in a close points chase that went down to the wire. The Oklahoma resident said it is the little things that he thinks about when he mulls over what it took to win the title.

“Even today I still think about little passes from early on in the season last year,” he explained.

“There were several races where I may have passed one guy on the last lap and got that one point or got that extra point for qualifying on the pole. There were several things last year could have made us or broken us. Every little bit helps.”

The weekend of action at VIR gets under way Friday when the stars of AMA’s American SuperBike, Daytona SportBike, SuperSport, Vance & Hines XR1200 Series and TTXGP Series hit the track for practice and qualifying.

The first race of the weekend, the first of the weekend’s pair of SuperSport races, gets the green flag at 1 p.m. Saturday. That race will be followed by the first Daytona SportBike race at 2 p.m. The weekend’s first American Superbike race gets the green flag at 3:15 p.m.

Qualifying rounds for the series will start Saturday at 8 a.m.

Sunday’s action starts at 8 a.m. with warm-ups.