Daytona Tire Test-o-Rama

Elliot Strong
by Elliot Strong
From a Daytona International Speedway Press Release:

Daytona 200 By Arai Champion Nicky Hayden Returns To DIS For Tire Test

DAYTONA BEACH, FL- Aug. 20, 2002-- Nicky Hayden returned to where it all started on Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway. Hayden, who won the season-opening Daytona 200 By Arai on his way to the American Motorcyclist Association U.S. Superbike championship, returned to DIS to kick off the first day of a three-day Dunlop tire test in preparation for next year's Daytona 200 on March 9.

Honda was the only manufacturer represented in the Dunlop tire test with Hayden, Team Erion's Kurtis Roberts and development rider Gaku Kamada (subbing for Miguel Duhamel).

The Honda riders turned laps on the 3.56-mile road course before afternoon showers cut the session short. The tire test will continue on Wednesday and Thursday with a section of the Oldfield Grandstand open to the public with free access through DAYTONA USA.

Before the test started, Hayden couldn't help but think back to March when he delivered a dominating performance in the Daytona 200. The Owensboro, Ky., native shattered the pole record when he clicked off a lap at one minute, 47.174 seconds (119.581 mph) and then dusted off the field with an 18.225-second victory in the Daytona 200.

"When I flew in yesterday, I was thinking about how neat it is to come back as the Daytona 200 winner," said Hayden, who at the age of 20 became the youngest winner of the Daytona 200 since 1976. "It's a big deal. A lot of great people have won here and to get my name on that list is huge."

Hayden, who turned 21 on July 30, became the youngest champion in the 27-year history of the AMA a few weeks ago in the season finale at Virginia International Raceway. Even though his plans for next season remain in limbo with a possible move to Europe, Hayden was happy that Honda is already focusing their efforts on 2003.

"I think it's pretty cool that we're here testing so soon," Hayden said. "I still don't know what I'm doing next year, but I think it's great that we're here so soon and so focused on next year. Just because we won this year and had a good year, we're not slacking off any and taking it easy."

Motorcycles will return to the "World Center of Racing" on Oct. 17-20 for Fall Cycle Scene. Tickets are available online at or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.

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