BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (June 22) – With a fourth-place GoPro Daytona SportBike finish on Saturday and a newfound confidence, GEICO Motorcycle Honda’s Dane Westby is feeling like his old self again.
“I’m back and ready to battle,” Westby said. “I haven’t really felt comfortable up until this point. Now I feel like I have anything anyone else has.”
It didn’t take long for a battle to form around Westby in the first race of the Triumph SuperBike Classic at Barber Motorsports Park in the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Series. Westby, J.D. Beach, Garrett Gerloff, and James Rispoli packed up together in the early going and never separated.
“The front group got away,” Westby said of the top three bikes. “But such is life. I battled those other guys behind me all day. My plan was to stay calm and see what I could do.”
Westby bounced between fourth and sixth through much of the 21-lap race as the quartet of riders swapped positions on seemingly every lap. Westby stayed smooth and worked his way up to fourth with just a couple of laps to go.
With the laps ticking down, two riders got around Westby, and it looked like he might finish in sixth. However, Westby needed to stick to the plan and not panic if he was going to have a chance to move back up.
“I knew I was better than the other guys in the last section of the track,” Westby said. “I stuck with it and I got my opportunity sooner than I thought.”
A few corners after he got passed, Westby got fourth place back by staying smooth when the two riders in front of him missed their marks, which allowed Westby to glide right on by.
“It’s hard to stick with the plan when you get passed like that,” Westby said. “But I think back to Road America when I was running with the same guys and I was too excited in the Canada Corner. I just kept thinking, ‘Calm, calm.’
“They made a mistake. You never know what’s going to happen, but I was ready for it and took advantage of it.”
Despite some stifling heat sitting over Barber Motorsports Park, Westby’s season-best finish energized him, and he would have been ready to turn around and race right away if he was asked to.
“I feel like we’ve finally arrived,” Westby said. “It has taken some time to get here after missing Daytona, but we’re ready for any battle out there.”
Westby and the GEICO Motorcycle Honda team won’t have long to wait because the second half of the Triumph SuperBike Classic gets under way at 1 p.m. CDT on Sunday from Barber Motorsports Park. The race will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network starting at 3 p.m. EDT.