News 29 Mar 2010

AMA SBK: Tommy Hayden wins first ever Superbike race

Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider Tommy Hayden bounced back from a disappointing Saturday to score his very first American AMA Pro Road Racing SuperBike win at the Suzuki SuperBike Challenge weekend races at Auto Club Speedway in California on Sunday afternoon.

Under calm and clear blue skies, the field was missing its’ pole sitter as Aaron Yates suffered an unfortunate fall during Sunday morning’s warm-up session. Yates, who also took pole position at the season opening SuperBike race at Daytona, was examined at the track infield care center and then transported to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center for further examination of what was reported initially by the Jordan Suzuki team to be a right leg injury.

At the start, Saturday’s race winner, Larry Pegram on his Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing Ducati, took the lead with a hard charging Josh Hayes in second on his Team Graves Yamaha, followed by another fast starting John Hopkins on his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki, Hayden and his Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate, Blake Young. Hayes showed his intentions early as he passed Pegram for the lead on lap two. Hopkins started to fall back as Blake Young and then, a few laps later, National Guard Suzuki rider Jake Zemke got by “Hopper” also. The first three then broke away and then Pegram showed his strength by just plain powering by Hayes on lap five while Hayden ran a patient third around the 21-turn, 2.36-mile speedway road course.

Young ran impressively as he closed on teammate Hayden but the big change happened up front when, completely unexpectedly, Larry Pegram slid down as he ran back onto the front straight banking on the end of lap nine. He was able to get back up and after a trip to the pits for an inspection, he rejoined the race and completed fifty percent of the distance giving him three valuable points.

Following Pegram’s off, Hayes was leading again with a slight gap to Hayden and Young. Zemke was running a lonely fourth while behind him a fierce battle was being waged by M4 Monster Energy Suzuki rider Chris Ulrich, young Canadian Brett McCormick on the Celtic Racing Suzuki and Ben Bostrom on the Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha. The three swapped places as fast as you could write it down and it was finally settled with Bostrom finishing sixth, McCormick seventh and Ulrich continuing his solid run of results in 2010 in eighth.

Rounding out the top ten was Taylor Knapp on his Suzuki in ninth and David Anthony on the Aussie Dave Racing Suzuki in tenth. Meanwhile, back up front, it was a three-man race and Hayden started to inch closer to Hayes pulling off a textbook pass at the start-finish line on lap 18 and riding right around Hayes, who could do nothing but watch Hayden put years of trying to rest as he pulled away for a well judged and well deserved first AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike victory.

Blake Young made a run on Hayes but fell just short as he completed a strong one-three finish for Rockstar Makita Suzuki at the Suzuki sponsored event. Hayes took a solid second with Jake Zemke fourth. In victory lane AMA Pro Racing starter Bobby Lemming awarded Hayden with the checkered flag from the race in honor of his achievement. Hayden reflected after the race, “So many people have been asking me if this was going to be the weekend I finally won a race, and I have been asked this so many times it was starting to really get to me!”

Hayden continued, “I have felt good this year, we were close to a couple of wins at Daytona and other than yesterday when I just didn’t run well in the windy conditions, I felt pretty good. Now I can just focus on racing and not worry anymore about when I’m going to win the first race.”

Josh Hayes was pleased with his weekend too, “Yesterday I ran up front but I wasn’t sure I belonged up there, today I felt better but I started making a few mistakes at the end, the heat made a difference today and I started feeling it while I was leading.”

Once again, AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL provided one amazing afternoon of action-packed racing on the final day of the Suzuki SuperBike Challenge at Auto Club Speedway.

The talented group of riders showcased just how close and competitive the class is, with the field being led off the line again by Danny Eslick and his No. 1 GEICO Powersports Suzuki under sunny skies and calm condition. Saturday race winner Martin Cardenas on his No. 36 M4 Monster Energy Suzuki, Josh Herrin aboard his No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha, Dane Westby riding his No. 2 Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha all were back up front, but today there were new names to add to the hustling pack at the front.

Steve Rapp riding a fast No. 15 Team Latus Motors Racing Ducati and Bobby Fong with his No. 30 DNA Energy Drink CNR Motorsports Ducati were in the mix. Herrin’s No. 6 Team Graves Yamaha teammate, Tommy Aquino and Cory West also were part of the seven- to eight-bike freight train at the front of the field, West was riding his No. 57 Vesrah Suzuki once again.

Eslick led a fighting pack of riders that ran inches apart as they all scrapped for any open real estate on the busy but testing 21-turn, 2.36-mile Auto Club Speedway infield road course. Herrin, Aquino, Rapp, Cardenas, West and Clinton Seller on the No. 4 Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha battled behind the leaders and it was Cardenas who once again fought his way up to the front. He rose as high as third and it looked like a three way battle for the win until a slight gap opened up between the battling Eslick and Herrin.

Lap after lap, Herrin would just get Eslick at the start-finish line, only to have the order swap as the duo dove into turn one. At one point early on, the first seven were covered by around 1.9 seconds as the race ebbed and flowed. As Aquino dropped back, Rapp continued his good form and had a pretty good tussle with Cardenas, who looked like he was going to pull off another win today as he began to work his way back up to the front.

Rapp then fell back at one point but didn’t take long to inch his way back to the front group to make it four riders with a real shot at victory. They were all going to have to beat an inspired Eslick, who rode his Suzuki like every lap was a qualifier. Herrin was giving no quarter as well as he continued to try Eslick on every time they both ran up onto the front banking of the speedway section.

The first big change came when the unfortunate Martin Cardenas fell as he entered the front banking on lap 13, allowing Rapp to get up to third. Cardenas rejoined to finish tenth. Meanwhile, there was another battle going on between Aquino, West and Fong. They also swapped positions lap after lap with the rapidly improving Fong taking fifth ahead of Aquino and West. West’s Vesrah Suzuki teammate Chris Fillmore took eighth ahead of Seller, who finished about eight seconds in front of the disappointed Cardenas.

Back up front it was down to Eslick, Herrin and Rapp. Going into the last lap, Eslick had his motorcycle every way but straight as he did everything to hold off Herrin, but it wasn’t to be and as Eslick led back onto the front straight banking on the final lap, Herrin calmly pulled out of the slipstream and passed him at the line to take the second win of the young season.

Herrin commented after the win, “I think I was trying to lead the most laps of the race without actually leading, I was talking to (SPEED TV announcer) Greg White last night and I guess I’m a better race finisher and I just seem to save myself a little for the end. This win is nice, usually I have a lot of friends here and I never run well so it’s nice.”

Eslick paid tribute to Herrin, “Every lap out there was like a qualifying lap, I was riding as hard as I could. It was great racing with Josh.”

Rapp was also pleased with his finish, “We are a small team and the guys work really hard so this is great for Team Latus Racing.

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