The Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series is set to kick off this weekend at Daytona International Raceway, and the competition looks set to be as close as ever. In the contest’s three-year history, the combined margin of victory stands at just over two tenths of a second. And last year’s dogfight saw ninth position take the checkered flag less than eight tenths removed from the victory.
Each previous contest has developed into a full-blown drafting war, with the class’ evenly matched machinery testing the tactical acumen of its pilots as they negotiate the high banks within inches of one another.
Nine of last year’s AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley Davidson Series top ten are back on a grid that will also be highlighted by the return of the class’ original champion and a two-time winner of this race.
Leading the charge is none of than defending king Steve Rapp (No. 1 Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson XR1200). This will be the first time in Rapp’s 16-year AMA Pro Road Racing career that he will carry the No. 1 plate into battle. He earned that honor in dominant fashion last season, winning six of nine races en route to the crown.
Last season’s championship runner-up and Daytona winner Tyler O’Hara (No. 29 Josh Chisum Racing/Bartels Harley-Davidson XR1200) returns. O’Hara has finished in the class’ top-three for three consecutive seasons and is motivated to finally claim the title for himself in 2014.
Also back is the class’ 2012 champ, Michael Barnes (No. 34 Arai/Taichi/Sidi/D.E.A.D. Cycles/Wheeler Racing Inc. Harley-Davidson XR1200), who is seeking redemption following an up-and-down ’13 title defense.
Rapp will also be tested by a pair of ultra-talented riders who didn’t challenge him for last year’s crown.Kyle Wyman (No. 33 KWR/Millennium Technologies Harley-Davidson XR1200) triumphed in the first two runnings of the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley Davidson Series Daytona opener and came within 0.075 seconds of making it three straight a year ago.
Additionally, former AMA Pro SuperBike superstar and the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley Davidson Series’ first-ever champ, Danny Eslick (No. 69 Ruthless Racing Harley-Davidson XR1200) will be gunning for victory this weekend as he brings his thrilling style back to the class once again. He’ll be splitting his time between the Harleys and his Rider’s Discount Triumph Daytona 675R which he’ll be riding in the Daytona Sportbike class, meaning he’ll have a busy weekend racing the Daytona 200 and the seven-lap race for the Harleys.
The stacked field offers up several other potential winners, with Ben Carlson (No. 45 Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson XR1200), Shane Narbonne (No. 64 Six Four Motorsports Harley-Davidson XR1200), David Estok (No. 123 Thrashed Bike Racing Harley-Davidson XR1200), Nick Hansen (No. 97 Aerostar Global Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson XR1200), Josh Chisum (No. 10 Josh Chisum Racing/Bartels Harley-Davidson XR1200), and Barrett Long (No. 2 Longevity Racing Harley-Davidson XR1200) chief among them.
The seven-lap AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series opener will take place on Friday, March 14 at 2:15 p.m. EST. Fanschoice.tv will be live streaming the entire Daytona weekend.