Rapp rolls to easy victory over Attard in Daytona 200
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Steve Rapp raced to one of the biggest upset wins in the history of the Daytona 200 on Saturday, riding the No. 15 Attack Kawasaki ZX-6R to a 21.951-second victory over teammate Ben Attard of Australia.
"It's unbelievable," said Rapp, whose previous best result in the 200 was fifth in 1999. "I backed off so much on the last few laps. I would have never forgiven myself had I run out of gas. On the last lap I was so nervous. I feel like a different person. This is the biggest day of my life."
Rapp, the 35-year-old rider from Manhattan Beach, Calif., took the lead on lap 20, and with the exception of pit sequences, held onto the point for the rest of the 68-lap event and took the checkered flag with a 21.951-second margin of victory.
It marked the first victory for Kawasaki in the prestigious race since 1995 and it's also the first time a non-factory rider has won the Daytona 200 since John Ashmead in the 1989 motorcycle classic.
Michael Barnes, of Boca Raton, Fla., was third on a Team M4 EMGO Suzuki.
The favored factory Hondas of pole winner and five-time Daytona 200 winner Miguel Duhamel and last year's winner Jake Zemke had fuel problems on lap 21 before the first pit stop. Josh Hayes, aboard the No. 1 Erion Honda and defending Formula Xtreme champion, also experienced fuel issues and finished sixth.
"It's one of those things that we have to go back and figure out," Honda Road Race manager Ron Heben said. "It's a big disappointment for us because of Honda's success in the 200."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press