American Superbike Race One
Josh Hayes ended Mat Mladin’s bid for a record eighth straight AMA Superbike victory Saturday, winning for the first time in his Superbike career, capturing Day 1 of the Kawasaki AMA Superbike Showdown, presented by Supercuts.
Hayes started second on his Yamaha and was fourth after two laps. But he passed Mladin’s Suzuki at the bottom of the Carousel (Turn 6) on Lap 3 and never looked back. He coasted home with a six-second margin, leading 20 of 22 laps on Infineon Raceway’s twisting, 12-turn, 2.28-mile circuit.
“I never would have imagined my first one would have come so easy,” said a jubilant Hayes.
The win brought the 34-year-old his first podium of the season and ended a long string of dominance for Suzuki; the last Superbike win by a make other than Suzuki came in June 2006. Mladin had won seven of the last 12 Superbike main events in the Sonoma wine country.
“Obviously, I’ve had better days,” Mladin said. “That’s racin’. We just didn’t hit on the setup today. … We’ve had seven wins in a row and we can’t complain. We’ve done a fantastic job. We’ll try and keep it together and get back up there tomorrow.”
Hayes was followed to the checkered flag by Mladin’s Suzuki teammate Tommy Hayden. Third place went to Ducati’s Larry Pegram, followed by Suzuki rider Aaron Yates and Mladin in fifth, nearly 25 seconds back of the winner and battling mechanical problems with his front end.
“I guess he was having some pretty big problems because for Mat he didn’t really put up a lot of fight there,” Hayes said of his pass of Mladin, who started on pole.
The result was Mladin’s worst since finishing 23rd in August 2008 following a disqualification for a technical infraction.
Petaluma native Ben Bostrom was the first to take advantage of Mladin’s vulnerability. Bostrom passed the six-time AMA Superbike champion at the outset of the second lap, claiming the inside position in the sprint to Turn 1.
But Bostrom crashed his Yamaha in Turn 11 while leading on Lap 2 and finished ninth.
It was the first Yamaha Superbike win at Infineon Raceway since 2001. Hayes’ triumph also marked the first non-Suzuki Superbike win at Infineon since 2004 when Miguel Duhamel won on a Honda.
Mladin’s series lead was cut to 69 points. Hayes, who entered the weekend in sixth place overall, moved to third in the standings. Hayden maintained his hold on second.
The win was the high point in a roller-coast year that saw Hayes crash out of the season-opening Daytona 200. Since then the two-time AMA Formula Xtreme champion (2006, ’07) has been working out the kinks in his first Superbike campaign with Yamaha. His previous best finish this year was fourth.
Despite starting seventh on the grid, Colombia’s Martin Cardenas won the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike event. The victory was the third straight for the Suzuki rider and fourth this season.
Jamie Hacking was second on his Kawasaki followed by Oakland native Steve Rapp in third on a Yamaha. Cardenas led 10 of 22 laps. Jason DiSalvo started on pole but finished 16th.
— American Superbike Race Two
Mat Mladin returned to form Sunday at Infineon Raceway, running away with his 80th career victory on Day 2 of the Kawasaki AMA Superbike Showdown, presented by Supercuts.
The triumph came some 24 hours after his seven-race win streak was halted by a poor-handling bike and the spirited charge of Yamaha’s Josh Hayes, who captured his first win at this level.
To emphasize that his departure from the Winner’s Circle was an aberration, the 37-year-old Australian dropped down and performed push-ups before accepting his first-place trophy and spraying a cheering crowd with champagne.
“When I won my first championship over a decade ago I heard that I would only win one and that would be the end of him,” Mladin said. “I’ve heard it all before. I won my first national championship 28 years ago as a kid. I’ve been doing this a while and won’t go away that quick.”
Mladin and his Suzuki topped second-place Ben Bostrom (Petaluma native) on a Yamaha despite Bostrom leading the 30-minute Sunday warm-up and posting the fastest time in a recent test at the 2.28 mile, 12-turn track.
On a day when track temperatures pushed past 120 degrees and heat impacted every competitor, Mladin’s margin of victory was an impressive 1.833 seconds.
“I don’t want too many days at the office like that,” he said.
Third place went to Mladin teammate Tommy Hayden, followed by Hayes and Larry Pegram in fifth on a Ducati.
Mladin, the six-time series champion, entered the weekend pursuing a record eighth straight victory. Instead he had to settle for eight wins in his last nine outings.
His performance was the kind that fans and competitors have come to expect. Mladin beat back several challengers entering the first turn, methodically built his lead and then defended it with skill and tenacity.”
Said Bostrom: “(Mat) rode a perfect race and it was stellar to watch.”
Mladin was up by .734 seconds after one lap, by .826 after 2 and 1.031 after 3, had pushed it to 1.312 after the fourth circuit with a lap of 1:36.730 and 1.347 after 5. By Lap 10 the cushion up was 2.269.
Lapped traffic eventually cut into the margin, with Bostrom narrowing it to under a second in the race’s late stages but there was little suspense.
For Bostrom, it was another failed attempt to win at his home track. He’s still awaiting his first win at the challenging, 12-turn road course.
“It’s a tough track, one of the toughest we go to,” Bostrom said. “I love it so much and I’ve always wanted to win a Superbike race here but I’ve never done it.”
Mladin holds a 79-point lead in the standings. Hayden is second, 29 points ahead of Hayes and 39 in front of Bostrom.
Earlier, Colombia’s Martin Cardenas completed a sweep of both Daytona Sportbike races by holding off a late challenge from Jason DiSalvo. The win was the fourth straight for the Suzuki rider, fifth of the season and upped his lead in the point standings.
In the Supersport class, Ricky Parker drove to victory on a Kawasaki. Santa Rosa’s Robert Tinagero finished eighth.
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