The first night of short track racing at Daytona is in the books with Henry Wiles taking the checkers.
It was Henry Wiles’ Wednesday at Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium. The Michigan rider, on a Jones Racing Kawasaki, took his first-career victory at the Daytona Short Track AMA Grand National after a hard-fought, late-race battle with Wisconsin’s JR Schnabel.
Pole winner Wiles got off to a fast start and, using the high cushion line, bolted away to a solid early lead. About halfway through the 25-lap final, veteran racer Schnabel began chipping away at Wiles’ lead staying low on the groove on his Memphis Shades Kawasaki. That set up a great duel between the two leaders.
Schnabel actually took the lead briefly on the back straightaway with two laps to go, but Wiles held steady and moved back in front through turns three and four. On the final go around, Schnabel made a last-ditch attempt to take the lead, but made a slip in turn three allowing Wiles to run home free to the checkered flag.
“When it’s all said and done that’s going to be one of my best career wins,” said Wiles, whose win Wednesday night marked his eighth-career AMA Grand National victory. “I thought I had an easy one going there, but JR came up and made it tough.”
Schnabel didn’t seem too disappointed with his runner-up finish.
“I made a race out of it anyway,” he said. “I’ll get another shot at it tomorrow night.
Joe Kopp finished third on a Honda after taking a provisional start, forcing him to start from the back of the field.
Thursday will see race two of the Daytona Short Track doubleheader.
Tickets for Daytona 200 Week By Honda events are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.