-- Hayden pops cherry
The remarkable Josh Hayes stormed from more than 15 seconds back to claim his 30th career victory and secure a third-consecutive AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike crown on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway after Saturday winner Roger Hayden, his first win and pole position in the Superbike category, fell on lap 10 if the 23-lap Sunday encounter.
Waged in tricky damp-but-drying conditions, Sunday's GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing race at the M1 PowerSports-promoted Triumph Big Kahuna Miami presented by Dunlop Tire and LeoVince was all about tire selection.
The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha ace outfoxed his opposition even if it didn't appear that way in the early going. He fell back with the pack in the race's early stages while a number of other competitors who selected different tire combinations stole the spotlight.
KTM/HMC's Chris Fillmore was an early leader but also an early fader, holding the lead momentarily before plunging down through the pack. The stays at the front of Team Amsoil/Hero EBR's Geoff May and National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden were longer lived but just as destined to come to an unhappy end as the track continued to dry. May found himself swallowed up by Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom on lap 13.
However, all the while Hayes continued to charge, catching Bostrom and the rest by a clip of two seconds per lap or more. He sailed past the #23 machine on his #1 YZF-R1 on lap 15, and, once in the lead, proved simply unstoppable yet again, winning by nearly five seconds.
Sunday's win served as redemption for yesterday's uncharacteristic mistake and adds to Hayes' staggering list of achievements. His accumulation of 14 victories this season stands as the all-time record, to go with his record of ten consecutive victories that was halted just yesterday, along with his streak of 11 straight pole positions, which tied the previous series' best (Mat Mladin).
But perhaps the most monumental achievement that Hayes has accomplished this season is the collection of a third AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike title, tying him for second most ever with legends Reg Pridmore, Fred Merkel, Doug Chandler, and Ben Spies.
"It's been a pretty incredible year." Hayes said. "Especially after last year, the way things have gone this year... this is the way you'd hope I could push things to. I don't feel at a loss for motivation or anything; I want to win races. Championships are pretty cool and sometimes when you get a gap like we have it feels somewhat anticlimactic, but I still live for the individual victories. Every single race win feels so good. And if you get those the way that you want to, the championship kind of takes care of itself. Fortunately, I've been able to do that and we're going to continue doing it for as long as we can into the future."
Technically, Hayes captured the title after completing the first lap as championship rival Blake Young (along with Saturday runner-up Danny Eslick and Aaron Yates) chose not to participate in the drying-track conditions.
Second-place went to Attack Performance's Steve Rapp on the black #15 Kawasaki ZX-10R. Rapp pulled off a charge similar to that of Hayes, tracking down Bostrom and displacing him for second with two laps remaining. The podium was Rapp's first of the season.
Despite being dropped from first to third, Bostrom still had plenty of reason to celebrate. His third-place finish, combined with yesterday's fifth, was good enough for the Californian to be named the weekend's 'Big Kahuna' and take home the coveted custom surfboard.
"It was semi-epic, I'll be honest," Bostrom said. "It was like a Supercross track out there with lanes... The first couple of guys were so fast in the first couple of laps I thought it was race over. But my combination of tires was quite friendly in the beginning so I could gain some confidence. And then it became quite unfriendly and I kept my confidence. I got mowed down by Josh and Rapper. There's not much to say, I mean. It was epic. It was really fun. I've never had to slide a front tire like that -- probably consistently ten times a lap -- and not crash. I think I might have actually learned something and became a better rider for it."
Hayes' Monster Energy Graves Yamaha teammate, Josh Herrin, raced his way forward to fourth place in the end, one spot ahead of May who held it together well enough to complete the top five.
Team Venezuela's Robertino Pietri finished sixth with Pietro Performance's Bruno Silva scoring an underdog seventh. M4 Suzuki's Chris Ulrich scored a second top-ten results in as many days despite crashing and remounting, finishing in eighth position.
Vicious Cycle Racing's Sean Dwyer took ninth, while Hayden rounded out the top ten after making a pit stop to change tires.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
Jake Gagne of the RoadRace Factory/Red Bull team won the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, a surprise win for the class rookie. Gagne showed fine form in a wet race to take his first AMA Pro victory. He topped Dane Westby of the M4 Suzuki team and Cameron Beaubier (Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha) in a race delayed by weather issues. Martin Cardenas clinched the championship for M4 Suzuki in the race as he became a two-time class champion.
Westby earned the lead on the start and Gagne harried him for ten laps until he made the pass for the lead. The young rider eventually fomented a lead of over seven seconds as he dominated the second half of race.
"Right away, I knew how fast we'd go. I got in behind Dane, and we took off. I saw we had a couple of seconds. I tried to get by Dane and see what I could do and did a couple of laps to pull a gap. I was able to pull it home. I was hoping for a podium, but a win is even crazier. I can't wait to get to NOLA and try it again."
"I tried to be conservative and was a little more conservative than necessary. I had some tire left at the end," said Westby. "That's all there was to it.
"To tell the truth, I was riding a little tense and nervous," said Beaubier.
Cardenas finished fourth, enough to ensure he'd win the 2012 title. The Colombian, who is the 2010 champ, earned seven wins on the way to clinching the crown this season.
"The championship was great for us. We took advantage of the points we had," said Cardenas. "We came here to Miami with the mission to win the championship. I focused on trying to clinch it, and I'm very happy."
David Gaviria (Kneedraggers.com Yamaha) earned his best GoPro Daytona SportBike finish yet in fifth, as did Kris Turner (Turner's Cycle Racing). Huntley Nash (LTD Racing) equaled his best class finish in seventh.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
James Rispoli (Celtic Racing/Orient Express) won Sunday's AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, backing up his Saturday victory with his eighth win of the year. Tomas Puerta (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull) was second, followed by Dustin Dominguez (Latus Motors Racing Triumph) in a race that was stopped with seven laps remaining before being declared official with the results taken from the previous complete lap.
The race was stopped after Matt Schrag crashed, bringing out the red flag. Lightning in the area forced a further delay, and the race was called official in order to prevent the riders and teams from waiting though a lengthy delay.
Rispoli was pleased with his race, one of the few that has seen him motor into the distance. He held a lead of over two seconds when the red flag flew.
"I got a great start and made a pass for the lead two laps in," said Rispoli. "I felt good to get a race where I could get a lead. It was a 'dirt-tracker's delight.' I don't think the handlebars were straight the whole time."
"I had to work my way up," said Puerta, who spent most of the race in second after passing Jake Lewis early on. "I had some issues with the front and wanted to finish second."
Dominguez took third and was unhappy with some of the riders battling for third early in the race. Stefano Mesa was charging before the red flag on his Kneedraggers.com Yamaha and had worked his way up to second before the race was stopped. He was classified fourth.
Hayden Gillim (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull) earned fifth place as he was over a second clear of fast starter Jake Lewis. Lewis got the holeshot on his Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki but faded to sixth. Yamaha factory pilot Garrett Gerloff was seventh.
AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series
Title contender Kyle Wyman was an unfortunate scratch from Sunday's AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series contest after suffering a concussion in a Saturday crash. However, he was well-represented on the podium at Homestead-Miami Speedway as his KLR Group/Spyke's/Vesrah teammate, Michael Barnes, was victorious and his brother, Travis, finished in third.
Barnes scored the popular home track-win following an intense multi-rider scrap from the green light to the checkered flag.
Barnes overhauled rival Tyler O'Hara on the final lap and held strong to the stripe to claim the win and the championship lead heading into the NOLA finale.
O'Hara is still right there, however, minimizing the damage of Barnes' win by claiming the bonus points for pole and for leading the most laps.
"It's been an emotional weekend with Kyle getting hurt," Barnes said. "It's great having my friends and family here -- my mom showed up for her first race in a long time -- I was really stoked."
Travis Wyman put up an impressive fight, leading briefly, en route to third. The result was his first podium finish of the year.
Suburban Harley-Davidson's Benny Carlson, who brought the points lead into the race, was in the mix throughout as well, finishing a close fourth. He now sits in third.
MOB Racing's Jake Holden ran with the lead group until a late mechanical issue took him out.
The stage is now set for a thrilling conclusion to the XR Showdown at NOLA Motorsports Park as Barney leads with 1090 points, with O'Hara is just two points back at 1088 and Carlson a close third with 1082.
Next Event - The GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing season will come to a close with the 2012 season finale in New Orleans, La. for the Triumph Big Kahuna New Orleans at NOLA Motorsports Park on October 5-7.
-- Saturday Review
GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing history was made on Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Triumph Big Kahuna Miami presented by Dunlop Tire and LeoVince and, for once, it didn't have anything to do with Josh Hayes.
National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden enjoyed what was likely the greatest day of his racing career to date; the Kentuckian claimed his first-career AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike pole position in the morning and then backed it up with his first-career premier class victory in the afternoon.
Hayden's triumphant Saturday closed out two historic streaks of Hayes' while delaying the inevitable. Hayden's pole snapped the champ's run of 11-consecutive pole positions (which tied Mat Mladin's '05-'06 record), and #54's blowout victory ended Hayes' all-time mark of 10-straight AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike wins.
Hayden took the early lead from Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Young and was followed past by the #1 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha of Hayes. However, the race took a shocking turn moments later when Hayes clipped a curb and crashed from second while working lap 3 of 23.
The Mississippian frantically sprinted to his downed machine, picked it up, and re-entered the fray, but could only work his way back up to 12th position in the end. The uncharacteristic mistake pushed the clinching of a third-consecutive National Guard SuperBike title back at least one more day.
Meanwhile, Hayden, who was momentarily dropped back to second by Young, reclaimed first and then broke free from the multi-rider fight that was developing behind him.
Taking full advantage of the opportunity before him, Hayden stormed off into the distance and took the victory with several seconds to spare. He used an intermediate Dunlop tire to win the race, a bit of a risk as he'd never run that particular tire before. Hayden and his team also changed the setup on the bike after the morning practice session.
An elated Hayden took the checkered flag in his hand for a victory lap to celebrate that long-awaited career achievement.
An emotional Hayden said, "It feels really good -- it's been a long time since I've won. So many things are going through my head right now, I just want to go back to the truck and sit there by myself and let it all sink in. It's been a lot of work getting back -- a lot of injuries. Lot of people stuck with me -- my family mainly. My sisters, my brothers were always trying to help me, my parents were always right there. You have a lot of friends when you're winning but when you're laid up in the hospital bed with a broken back, broken pelvis, there's not a lot of people calling you. My family stayed with me through thick and thin when almost everyone else gave up on me. I guess I want to dedicate this win to my family for everything that they've done for me no matter what.
"I've got to thank my team, Michael Jordan Motorsports, and the National Guard, because last year nobody really wanted to give me a chance -- they thought I was used goods. I think today made it look like they made the right choice. And for myself, I put a lot of work into it and to finally win...
"I put my head down right away and was ready for the fight. These guys came by me and we had some good passes, and then I just tried to put my head down and get a gap and maintain it. I thought my lap board was missing laps because I was thinking, 'I know we did more than just one lap.' It seemed like it took forever but I got the win and I'm happy."
Young fell off the chase for the win and back into a remarkable battle for second with Team Hero EBR's Danny Eslick. The two traded the position back and forth countless times in a scrap that displayed the full extent of the two chargers' repertoire of overtaking maneuvers.
In the end, Eslick's aggressive tactics won out over Young's, as the Oklahoman edged ahead at the checkered flag by 0.089 seconds.
"There was one lap where we probably went back and forth five, six, or seven times," Eslick said of the dogfight. "It was a good race. It was clean, and it was just good, hard racing. Me and Blake have raced each other for a lot of years and raced each other hard. There's no love lost while we were out there; we were definitely going for it out there. It was pretty awesome."
Third-placed Young said, "I kind of had two races going on. I was racing at the front, and then Roger decided he wanted it more than me and kind of took off. I thought that was going to be the end of my day. And then I saw my pitboard about halfway through said '+1 69' and I thought, 'oh boy, here we go.' Obviously, it was a pretty good race."
Their brawl allowed Team Amsoil/Hero EBR's Geoff May to claw back into podium contention as well; the Georgian finished in fourth just 0.252 seconds behind Young.
Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom finished a lonely fifth with M4 Suzuki's Chris Ulrich claiming an impressive sixth.
A healthy tussle decided seventh position; Kneedraggers.com/Motul/Fly Racing's David Anthony ultimately took the position just ahead of Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing BMW's Larry Pegram, Riders Discount K&L Supply's Taylor Knapp, EvanSteelPerformance BMW's Aaron Yates, and KTM/HMC Racing's Chris Fillmore.
The powerful Monster Energy Graves Yamaha squad's Saturday pain was only intensified when Josh Herrin suffered a problem while circulating in sixth. He continued on track but faded all the way to 19th by the race's completion.
Despite his Saturday disappointment, Hayes is still in commanding position to clinch the title. Only a non-score combined with either a victory or runner-up finish on Young's part could prevent Hayes from claiming his third-straight AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike championship on Sunday.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha pilot Cameron Beaubier won the Saturday AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race in decisive fashion over Martin Cardenas and Bobby Fong.
Beaubier has now won six out of the last eight races in the GoPro Daytona SportBike class after an early-season injury effectively ended his shot at the title as Cardenas (GEICO Suzuki) has taken charge of the championship.
Beaubier took pole for the race, but Cardenas earned the holeshot on the start. By lap four, the Californian had moved to the front and earned a gap he held for the rest of the race.
"I was pushing pretty hard at the beginning," said Beaubier. "I had a soft tire that had started spinning up by the end. I tried to stay consistent and brought it home. The team gave me an awesome bike."
"I led for two laps," said Cardenas. "Cameron passed me and was a little stronger at the beginning of the race. I could see the board, and Bobby was behind me. At the end, I put my head adown and increased my rhythm. It was good to finish second.
Beaubier took the win by 1.633 seconds over Cardenas, who was threatened by Fong and Dane Westby (M4 Suzuki). Westby closed on his rivals and looked to be making a strong push, but he couldn't get by so he took fourth.
Jake Gagne had an odd race. The RoadRace Factory/Red Bull pilot ran up front early, dropped back with an apparent machine issue, then returned to the action down in the pack. He made it back to fifth place and cut the race's quick lap (1:26.066).
Jake Zemke was sixth on the DucShop Ducati, ahead of Tommy Aquino (Kneedraggers.com) and Jason DiSalvo (Latus Motors Racing Triumph).
Austin DeHaven, coming off an injury, was ninth for Kneedraggers.com.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
Orient Express Celtic Racing's James Rispoli outlasted Kneedraggers.com Stefano Mesa to win Saturday's intense AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstpore.com SuperSport shootout.
Rispoli and Mesa distanced themselves from an earlier seven-rider scrap for the lead and settled into a one-on-one duel over the race's second half. Mesa made a couple of slick maneuvers to steal the lead briefly, but Rispoli had an answer for every assault. Mesa's bid was made all the more difficult when his helmet's visor came off with seven laps remaining.
In the end, Rispoli won out to the stripe by 0.564 after eking out a bit of space on the race's final lap.
"It was really slick and me and Stefano did a good job of sliding around and making it look fun," Rispoli said. "In the middle of the race, he came rippin' by and I was like, 'OK, it's time to go.' I got back in tow, reeled him in a little bit, and found some parts where I was a little bit faster. I made my move a couple laps later. It was really fun racing today."
RoadRace Factory/Red Bull's Tomas Puerta narrowly edged Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki's Jake Lewis for the final podium position by 0.043 seconds, but Lewis was still the big winner on the day.
East Region title leader Dustin Dominguez dropped out of the battle for third, and Lewis made up serious ground in the points chase, moving from 20 points out to just two points back (208-206).
National Guard/Fairhills Group/Celtic Racing's Cory Alexander rounded out the top five.
AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series
Tyler O'Hara (Bartel's Harley-Davidson) won provisional pole for Sunday's AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series race. O'Hara set a time of 1:38.629 in tough conditions at the 2.2-mile circuit on Saturday afternoon as he topped local rider Mike Barnes for the spot.
"We made the decision to get out there early and get a couple of good laps," said O'Hara, who added the weather worsened for most of the session.
Barnes (KLR Group/Spykes H-D) was second, alongside Travis Wyman (Harv's H-D) and Michael Corbino (Rossiter`s Harley-Davidson). Title contender Kyle Wyman (KLR Group) crashed during the session.
- AMA Superbike Championship 2012 -
RND 1 - DAYTONA
RND 2 - ATLANTA
RND 3 - INFINEON
RND 4 - MILLER
RND 5 - ROAD AMERICA
RND 6 - BARBER
RND 7 - LAGUNA SECA
RND 8 - NEW JERSEY
RND 9 - MIAMI
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