Local motor notes: Beaubier's year off to hot start

Published: Friday, Mar. 22, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 5C
Last Modified: Sunday, Mar. 24, 2013 - 10:28 am

Now this is the start to the 2013 season Cameron Beaubier wanted.

Picking up where he left off last season, the 20-year-old AMA Pro GoPro Daytona Sportbike rider led 50 of 57 laps of the 72nd Daytona 200 last Saturday to post an impressive 22-second victory in the season's first race.

"Coming into this season I knew I could do it," said Beaubier, a Roseville resident. "From the first practice session I felt comfortable and I was super-consistent all weekend."

Beaubier was consistent from the middle of the 2012 season, winning seven of the series' last 11 races to finish third overall behind champion Martin Cardenas. Beaubier was on the podium for 10 of the final 11 races. Beaubier had struggled earlier in 2012, and a big reason was that he was leaning his 600cc Yamaha YZF-R6 into corners on a broken right kneecap he had injured in a scooter accident near his home.

But then again, maybe Beaubier races better with broken bones. It wasn't until he went under the surgeon's scalpel in December to remove pins and other assorted metal holding the knee together that he was informed he had re-broken the knee sometime during the season. So doctors replaced the hardware, and after another intense rehab Beaubier is back on a bike and back on top.

"I got two pins and some wiring over my kneecap," Beaubier explained. "The surgery really put me back to square one. It's sore but I can ride on it."

That's good news for Graves Yamaha, Beaubier's team, and one of the best in the sport. Beaubier's teammate in the Daytona Sportsbike division, Garrett Gerloff, finished second. Graves Yamaha rider Josh Hayes is the defending Superbike national champion and has won the last three overall titles.

Beaubier is in the second and final year of his contract with Graves Yamaha and wants to move up to Superbike as soon as possible, whether that's with his current team or another. But for now, he said he's only focused on staying consistent and winning the series title.

"I have a great team and an awesome crew," Beaubier said. "Whatever presents itself next year I'll certainly look at, but now it's all about trying to get a championship."

Racing returns – Those who knew Dale Wondergem Jr. and Marcus Johnson best say it's the way the two would have wanted it.

Racing will return to the Marysville Raceway Park Saturday a week after Grass Valley's Wondergem, 68, and Petaluma's Johnson, 14, were killed in a freak mishap in the pits.

A winged sprint car traveling at high speeds and driven by Johnson's cousin, 17-year-old Penngrove driver Chase Johnson, careened out of control during hot laps of the California Civil War Shootout and entered the pits, striking Wondergem and Marcus Johnson. Chase Johnson was unhurt.

The cause of the wreck remains under investigation.

In a statement, the Johnson family ked the local racing community for its support, the Marysville Raceway Park said.

The only other racing-related death at the 45-year-old dirt oval came in 2010, when Merle Shephard of Rio Linda was killed while racing a big rig.

For more information on Saturday's Great Taxi Cab Open, go to www.marysvilleracewaypark.com.

Limited seats available – It's a near-sellout for tonight's World of Outlaws sprint car show at the new Stockton 99 dirt track. NASCAR's Tony Stewart will enter the race and complement an already impressive drivers list that includes Steve Kinser and Elk Grove native Paul McMahan.

For more information, go to www.stockton99.com.

Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at editorwriter@att.net.

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