Danny Eslick made a take-out move on Josh Herrin in Sunday’s Daytona SportBike season finale at Barber Motorsports Park. That is a fact and Eslick basically admitted as much in the post-race TV interview.
Eslick is a great personality, a wonderfully talented rider, a deserving champion and a major asset to the series, but punting fellow competitors into the weeds is about the lowest thing a racer can do and it shouldn’t be accepted by AMA Pro Racing.
Earlier this season Clinton Seller was suspended primarily for flying into a crowded turn one at warp speed at the start at Virginia International Raceway, essentially turning his Project One Yamaha into a bowling ball. A case could be made that Eslick’s take out of Herrin at Barber was even more egregious. At least with Seller it was a rider trying to gain positions and simply getting over excited and waiting too late to brake. With Eslick he had full intentions of inflicting punishment on Herrin.
Eslick tried to defend his move by saying that throughout the race Herrin was leaning on him from the outside, but from my view Herrin was simply establishing a line through a turn and wasn’t going to give it up easily. Eslick wanted the same piece of asphalt and he didn’t back off either and contact was made. To me that’s fine, that’s good hard-nosed racing, but I saw Eslick cross the line of sportsmanship by intentionally leaving his line to move over and bang on Herrin coming into a turn, not once, but twice a few laps before slamming into the side of Herrin causing Herrin to crash.
The move Eslick made was exactly the thing that got Sammy Halbert suspended in the Grand National Series. So the precedents are there with Seller and Halbert.
The season is over and nothing can be done now, but if AMA Pro Racing is to be consistent it would mean Eslick should be suspended for at least one round for next season. Doing anything else would put the sanctioning body in the position of playing favorites, or put it in danger of being viewed as having its officials intimidated by a powerful team owner. If AMA Pro Racing is going to prove to all teams in the paddock that it has integrity and fairness in its decision making, Eslick’s actions at Barber will not go unpunished.