DAYTONA, Fla. (March 15) -- More than two dozen riders crashed in the same spot of the backstretch chicane during Thursday practice for the Daytona 200 and GEICO rider Dane Westby arguably got the worst of it, injuring himself enough that he will not be medically cleared to participate in Saturday's race. In his place will be veteran rider Steve Rapp, who climbs aboard the team's primary Honda to fly the GEICO colors.
"Everyone on the team is bummed that Dane got injured, no one more so than Dane himself," team owner Chris Ulrich said. "His been working so hard to prepare for the season and this new start with GEICO and Honda. He was putting up great numbers before his crash and we all expected a good result for him in the 200."
"The main thing now for Dane is that he recovers quickly and gets back on the bike as soon as the doctors give him clearance to ride. We will definitely see him back on the bike at the next round."
A 41-year-old rider from Hawthorne, Calif., Rapp has been winning races on several different styles of bikes since turning pro in 1996. He's a past winner of the Daytona 200, having won the Formula Xtreme race in 2007.
"This is obviously a really big race for the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Series and for our team, as we continue our relationship with GEICO," Ulrich said. "We had a meeting when we got the official word on Dean and decided to ask Steve if he would help us out. He kindly accepted and now we'll put all of our support behind him.
"Steve is a past winner of the Daytona 200 and has been on a Superbike podium in the past twelve months. He is a true professional and can certainly get the GEICO Motorcycle Honda to the finish in the Daytona 200. Hopefully, he can earn a podium spot. He's a very capable rider."
The Daytona 200 begins at 1 p.m., Saturday, and will air on SPEED TV.