News 16 Aug 2010

AMA SBK: Hayes stretches series lead with Virginia victory

After Saturday’s amazing display of action and close finishes, Sunday’s AMA Pro Road Racing finals at Virginia International Raceway to close out the the Suzuki White Lightning AMA Pro Nationals Presented by Foremost Insurance event weekend provided redemption for a couple of riders and also brought a divisional championship to another very deserving rider.

Team Graves Yamaha AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike points leader Josh Hayes had a day where he totally reasserted himself at the top of the tables in every way.

After what was for him a disappointing third place result in Saturday’s race, where his main championship rival Tommy Hayden took a well measured victory with his Rockstar Makita Suzuki, Hayes came back today to utterly dominate the 23 lap race here at Virginia International Raceway.

“I just feel like I woke up, I didn’t like to get beat yesterday,” said Hayes. “Somewhere along the way I feel like I kind of got lost a little bit, just in my riding. I wasn’t riding my full potential and I was still capable of racing for the wins. I think our motorcycle has a lot to do with that, we have a really good motorcycle.

“I was just thinking about, what was my mindset last year? I was racing myself a lot more last year. These guys ride great, but I put an awful lot of pressure on myself to perform, so that’s what I tried to get back to this morning and today’s race was a race against myself.”

Hayes led every lap on his way to a series high fifth win in the powerful SuperBike class.

Pole position winner and Ben Bostrom and his Pat Clark Motorsports Palms Casino Yamaha duplicated his second place from yesterday to round out a solid weekend for the Las Vegas Motor Speedway supported team. Bostrom had surgery on his thumb after the last race and he was feeling the effects but didn’t let it dampen his spirit or resolve.

Tommy Hayden, as he has all season long, took what might have been a tough day and in his usual determined way, battled first with Hayes and then fought Bostrom for second before he finished third to stay close to Hayes in the points chase. Hayden is only 11 points adrift of Hayes with two double header race weekends to go.

“I felt pretty good about stepping up and going faster than I had all weekend there for the first five or six laps,” said Hayden. “But in the end we didn’t have the pace to go that fast, or cooked the tire a little bit and couldn’t keep up. That’s the biggest part of it really, we just weren’t fast enough.”

Riding to fourth place was Jordan Suzuki rookie Brett McCormick who easily had the best race of his season in relief of injured teammate Aaron Yates. Yates did make an appearance at VIR this weekend and quickly showed his mettle with an excellent qualifying effort but he decided not to race until he was fully confident that he was in race distance shape after his lengthy lay off.

Another rider having a good day was Taylor Knapp who rode his Suzuki to a nice fifth place finish after dueling with first Jake Zemke and then Geoff May on his Buell.

Chris Ulrich also ran well today and took seventh aboard his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki. Zemke fell to eighth on his National Guard Jordan Suzuki after battling hard to hold onto every position. Zemke ran in fifth place in the early stages of the race.

Larry Pegram fell from sixth at the start down to 15th on lap two but as usual, Pegram put on a great show for the fans and took his Foremost Insurance Ducati all the way back up to ninth at the flag.

Canadian Superbike Champion Jordan Szoke made his second AMA Pro SuperBike appearance of the year after racing at Mid-Ohio and impressed once again with a nice tenth place finish after a spirited battle with Shane Narbone on his Suzuki.

In AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL, Josh Herrin was able to bounce back from the disappointment of Saturday’s race that ended for him almost as soon as it started. Once again, this race was action all the way with the usual players and more taking the fight to the front for the entire 23-lap race.

After winning yesterday’s dramatic photo finish race, Bobby Fong had a short day on Sunday when he went down in turn one moments after the start, his DNA Energy Drink Ducati too damaged to continue and as quickly as that he was out.

Meanwhile, GEICO Powersports Suzuki rider Danny Eslick was again battling with Team Graves Yamaha rider Josh Herrin, Cory West on his Vesrah Suzuki, Steve Rapp with his rapid Team Latus Motors Ducati and Herrin’s Team Graves Yamaha teammate, Tommy Aquino.

As quickly as things started to happen, Herrin came by the line on lap five indicating that he was feeling some rain. Moments later, after taking the lead, Eslick also put up his arm to let the field behind him know that moisture was making conditions potentially too dangerous to continue without a potential change to rain tires.

The race was red flagged and after a short break, the brief shower passed and the field reformed for the restart.

Again, Herrin and Eslick had strong starts and headed the field. Martin Cardenas in particular had a tough start and dropped back to ninth on his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki.

But as usual, Cardenas began one of his patented charges to the front which took him right back to the middle of the action by lap 15 and he was up to third with one lap to go but went off the track on the last lap to finish fifth. The battle up front was reminiscent of yesterday as there would be two and three lead changes per lap.

Herrin was strong out of the last corner and he would lead and the line but then Eslick would out-brake everyone to regain the lead. Steve Rapp was back up in his usual position up front and he would grab the lead only to have Eslick or Herrin re-pass him again and again.

Cory West was right in the middle of the action too and if not for him running wide in turn one on the last lap, he was one of at least five riders that could have won this race.

Going into the last lap, the first four were separated by under a tenth of a second at the line and Herrin, West, Eslick, Cardenas and Rapp all hurtled into turn one for the last time. Cardenas and West went wide and had run off course, leaving Herrin, Eslick and Rapp to battle it out.

Eslick was leading, but Herrin got back by and as they came to the line, Steve Rapp grabbed second from Eslick. Herrin’s margin of victory was 0.174 over Rapp and only 0.241 over his championship points rival Eslick.

“The race was really good, every time somebody passed me it seemed like it was somebody different,” Herrin explained. “Danny rode an awesome race, my bike was a little faster today so it was a little bit easier to get those extra points.”

Herrin was able to lead the most laps and with the win, he made up some valuable ground on points leader Eslick.

“I figured it’d be pretty close to the same deal as yesterday and then Josh was up in there,” Eslick said. “I knew Cory would be strong again today so there was quite a few of us up there. That little bit of drizzle was kind of sketchy. It was hard to tell if it’s coming down harder that it was.

“We were just trying to be a little bit cautious there. I think it was a good call, to figure out what was going on. It turned out pretty good, it presented a good race after the restart. It was a lot of fun, there at the end, it got pretty wild.”

Steve Rapp was happy to be back on the podium again, his seventh appearance this year.

“When I was out front, I gave it my best shot, and then when they started coming back by again and it’s like, ‘well there’s no point, obviously I can’t get away so I’m going to ride with them for a little bit, see if they make a mistake.’ It worked out pretty good,” he said.

P.J Jacobson ran well today on his Celtic Racing Suzuki and he took a solid fourth ahead of Cardenas. Michael Beck had another good day on his DNA Energy Drink Ducati and took sixth.

West recovered to finish seventh ahead of Paul Allison on the Chronic Motorsports Yamaha. Tommy Aquino had an off-track excursion and finished a disappointed ninth ahead of Fernando Amantini on his Team Amantini Kawasaki.

In the first race of the day, Rockwall Engineering Yamaha rider J.D. Beach took his seventh win in the competitive AMA Pro SuperSport class. With Huntley Nash finishing second on his LTD Racing Yamaha, it enabled Beach to capture his AMA Pro SuperSport Young Gun East Division championship.

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