DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Defending champion Michael Barnes won the pole position for the DAYTONA 200 on Friday at Daytona International Speedway, with a fast lap of 1 minute, 49.487 seconds (115.411 mph) on a Yamaha 600 during the third and final qualifying session.
The DAYTONA 200, being held for the 76th time, will take the green flag at 1 p.m. Saturday on the Speedway’s 3.51-mile road course.
Barnes, riding for Prieto Performance, edged Valentin Debise of France (M4 The 22 Project Ecstar Suzuki 600) by 0.04 seconds. Two-time (2014-15) DAYTONA 200 champion Danny Eslick (TOBC Racing Yamaha 600) qualified third.
Barnes, of Boca Raton, came out of retirement last year to make his 13th start over a two-decade span in the DAYTONA 200. He became the race’s oldest winner at the age of 47. This year, Barnes is trying to become the eighth rider to win the race in consecutive years.
“All I can say is I have a tremendous crew behind me,” Barnes said. “Now we just have to go get some carbs in us, wake up in the morning and see if we can do this again.
“I just attacked it; I attacked every single corner. This bike works so well. I couldn’t be happier. Sitting on the pole for the DAYTONA 200 … it’s a little surreal, after winning the race last year at my age.”
Sanctioned by the American Sportbike Racing Association (ASRA), the iconic DAYTONA 200 holds a unique place in the racing history of Daytona Beach, a history that runs parallel to that of stock cars and the two old Daytona beach-road courses. The first DAYTONA 200 was held in 1937, only one year after stock cars first raced on a course that utilized both the Atlantic Ocean shoreline and State Road A1A. In 1961 the DAYTONA 200 moved to Daytona International Speedway, two years after the Speedway opened and the first DAYTONA 500 was held.
DAYTONA 200 riders compete for an overall purse of $175,000, with the champion also receiving a steel-and-gold Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watch.
In addition to the DAYTONA 200, a variety of other fan-friendly activities are rounding out Bike Week At DAYTONA.