Eric Bostrom Confident About Daytona

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
A Kawasaki press release says that Eric Bostrom has had enough offinishing second to Mat Mladin. Last year, Bostrom finished second to Mladin inthe Daytona 200 By Arai and was runner-up to Mladin in the AMA Superbikechampionship standings.

On the bright side, Bostrom did win the 600 Supersport championshiplast year, but he won't try to defend his title this year. Although he'll competein the 600 Supersport at Daytona, Bostrom will focus his efforts on winning hisfirst AMA Superbike championship. He's also seeking his first Daytona 200 ByArai victory.

"Second was where we ended up here (at the Daytona 200 By Arai) andit's also where we...

"ended up in the championship," said Bostrom, rider of theNo. 32 Kawasaki. "It's an accomplishment, but it's certainly not a goal."

But Bostrom isn't just focusing on catching Mladin as he prepares for2002 and the season-opening 61st Daytona 200 By Arai on March 10. He saysthey're plenty of competitive riders in the garage that can challenge for aDaytona 200 By Arai victory and the AMA Superbike championship.

"For certain (Mladin) seems to have the target on his back with the No.1 plate, but you've also got some other guys," Bostrom said. "Nicky Hayden iscertainly in strong contention and Miguel is always tough here at Daytona aswell as a handful of other guys."

Bostrom and his team fell behind last year during Daytona 200 Bike Week,struggling with the bike throughout practice and finally making some progressjust in time for the start of the race.

"It wasn't exactly the race weekend you want to have," Bostrom said."We started slow and never really got a good pace going until the race, andeven then our pace wasn't what we would've liked it to be. We didn't quite seemto be in contention for a win. We just didn't have the primo setup."

Bostrom spent three days at Daytona in December participating in theDunlop tire test trying to find the ultimate setup to negotiate laps on thedemanding 3.56-mile road course at Daytona.

He admits the Daytona 200 By Arai is one of the toughest races on theAMA circuit. The race is the longest of the year, the only one that willrequire pit stops and the track is demanding on both the rider and the tires.

"It's definitely the most unique race we run with the pit stops,"Bostrom said. "It's an endurance style race, but you run it with almost asprint style strategy, which is getting to the front and trying to capitalizeon any mistakes that the competition makes. Basically, you go as hard as youcan go for 200 miles.

"Certainly the biggest part of that is that you've got hardest tiresthat we run all year long. If you can find a setup that will take care of yourtires, you'll be able to put in faster laps for a longer period of time. Thatwill pay dividends towards the end of the race if you're in a battle for thelead. At that point, you'll have something left where you can put in a fasterlap than the guy behind you."

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