Josh Herrin will start the 81st running of the famed Daytona 200 from pole position on Saturday, placing his Warhorse HSBK Ducati at the front for a second consecutive year after a wild Time Attack session at Daytona International Speedway.
The session saw the top 12 competitors from the combined Q1 and Q2 sessions return for a final shootout on Friday afternoon, with their official grid positions taken from the “superpole” results and not the previous order.
It was Richie Escalante who topped those combined times behind a stunning 1:48.133 lap, with Cameron Petersen jumping thirteen spots in the second stage to earn his place alongside Hayden Gillim, Herrin, and Brandon Paasch.
Herrin was the benchmark in the first half of the 15-minute superpole with a number of rivals shuffling behind him, but a disastrously slow pit stop halted all his momentum before he ran off track just moments later, seemingly opening the door for a ton of movement behind him.
Instead, the rest of the Daytona Supersport challengers fought their way through the infield with a number of aggressive passes, slowing each other up in various sections of the lap as a frustrated Herrin – unaware of the chaos behind him – managed to escape with pole behind a 1:48.741 lap.
That mark was actually slower than the top two finishers of Q2 and just slower than Herrin’s Q1 time from Thursday, setting up a wild grid order for Saturday’s final 57-lap main event.
Similar to Herrin, it was PJ Jacobsen who slotted himself into second early in the session and managed to stay there the rest of the way, losing out on pole position by just 0.264 seconds aboard his Celtic/Tytlers Cycle Yamaha.
Another beneficiary of the late drama was 17-year-old Tyler Scott, who was riding on his own and away from the turmoil when he moved to third on the grid for the Vision Wheel M4 Suzuki team, 0.286 seconds away from pole and just 0.022 seconds off Jacobsen.
Behind the lead row, it will be Danny Eslick, Escalante, and Gillim completing the second row on Saturday, with the former eyeing his record-tying fifth Daytona 200 victory this weekend.
Outside the lead order will be Petersen in seventh, Josh Hayes in eighth, and Geoff May ninth, with two-time defending Daytona winner Paasch in a shockingly quiet tenth.
Not since Eslick in 2014 has the pole-sitter gone on to win the Daytona 200, but it has been equally as difficult to win the 57-lap event from outside the top-five on the grid, making it tough to gauge the exact importance of the qualifying order.
Notably missing the cut for the Time Attack shootout were PanAmerican Superbike star Max Angles (13th), HSBK Ducati debutant Xavi Fores (15th), and reigning Bridgestone Canadian Superbike champion Ben Young (17th), amongst others.
Full results from Friday’s qualifying and race action can be found on the official MotoAmerica website, as can live video and timing through MotoAmerica Live+.