Today was mission accomplished, part one for Josh Hayes and the Team Graves Yamaha Team as they took a close yet strong win today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the first AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike race in the weekend’s doubleheader, part of the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tyre.
Hayes, under partly cloudy skies, held off a determined Ben Bostrom on his Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha, who kept Hayes honest by running virtually right behind him all the way to the flag. Hayes won the 21 lap race by 0.219 of a second but in a way, it was somewhat more controlled than that.
After starting from pole position, Hayes was pushed back to third as first Bostrom led and then Foremost Insurance Ducati rider Larry Pegram shot by Bostrom as the field ran down the long Mid-Ohio back straight. Only seconds later, Hayes passed not only Bostrom but Pegram as well to take a lead he would never relinquish.
Behind the first three, National Guard Jordan team rider Jake Zemke got a good start and passed the other front row starter, Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider Tommy Hayden. Further back, M4 Monster Energy Suzuki rider Jake Holden was making a nice move to the front, passing Zemke’s Jordan Suzuki teammate Brett McCormick and then setting sail for Zemke.
By the time McCormick got to him, Zemke had been passed by a determined Hayden, who was then chasing down third place man Pegram.
Also making an impressive run in his first National Guard SuperBike start of the 2010 season was Ben Bostrom’s brother Eric, who was riding a new Cycle World Attack Performance Yoshimura Suzuki and running a solid seventh which became eighth by the end of the race.
Former Mid-Ohio winner Chris Ulrich also had a spirited race, racing hard with McCormick and then finally beating Canadian SuperBike Champion Jordan Szoke on his Wazne Racing Ciclo Werks Honda.
At the end, it was down to Hayes and Ben Bostrom. Hayes was riding within himself, as he knew it was a long race and the conditions were tough. The heat was a factor and as Bostrom took a final-lap run at Hayes at the end of the long straight, Hayes held him off with a great display of late braking.
Hayes didn’t put a wheel out of place for the remainder of the lap to take his fourth win of the season which put him into first place by 10 points in the championship chase going into tomorrow’s second race of the Honda Super Cycle Weekend Presented by Dunlop Tire.
After it was all said and done, it looked like business as usual for AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL points leader Josh Herrin and his Team Graves Yamaha. He took his fourth win of the 2010 season from pole position but for the many lucky fans in attendance, this was another of what is now the standard fare in this exciting class.
After a race-long battle with five-time 2010 race winner Martin Cardenas, once again riding his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki with style and speed, reigning Daytona SportBike Champion Danny Eslick on his GEICO Powersports Suzuki and the surprise of the show, Bobby Fong with his DNA Energy Drink Ducati, Herrin posted another classic win by just 0.045 of a second.
And battle is what happened for the entire 21 lap race at the 2.4-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. At the start, Eslick got a perfect launch and led into the tight left-hand first turn. Slotting in right behind him was the fourth-starting Cardenas followed quickly by the other front row qualifier, Team Latus Motors Ducati rider Steve Rapp. Herrin was a surprising fourth with Fong a strong fifth, looking for more.
This group settled in to a cut and thrust battle with Herrin quickly making a move from fourth to second at the end of the long back straight. Then Cardenas took a turn at the front on lap six and although he was being challenged at different parts of the track, he led the next ten laps until Herrin got by for three laps.
Meanwhile, Steve Rapp had dropped back and had his hands full with Team Graves Yamaha rider Tommy Aquino, who eventually took fifth from Rapp towards the end of the race.
Back at the front, Fong was quickly becoming the star of the show as he ran as high as second with a great move on Herrin in the Carousel. Eslick dropped back but quickly rejoined the first three for the sprint to the flag. Cardenas looked like he had it under control as he led laps 19 and 20 but then Herrin made a big move to take the lead again going up into the Key Hole turn.
But then Cardenas took first back at the end of the long back straight before Herrin retook the lead on the tight backside of the circuit.
At this point, Eslick and Fong were dicing, causing Eslick to overcook, it putting him off the track and dropping him to fourth at the flag. Fong then made a last lap, last turn charge for the win and was only inches behind Herrin at the flag to take second; his and the CNR Motorsports team’s best finish of their AMA Daytona SportBike careers.
For all of his hard work, Cardenas ended up third which is less than he wanted but it keeps him in the chase for the championship. He is now just 10 points behind Eslick and 41 behind Herrin.
Behind Aquino and Rapp, Chris Fillmore and his Vesrah Suzuki teammate Cory West as well as Clinton Seller (Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha), Josh Day on his Four Feathers Racing Yamaha and P.J. Jacobson on his Celtic Racing Suzuki had their own private battle for seventh through eleventh. All in all it was a great race.
Josh Herrin continues to ride with a great mix of speed and patience in his quest for the 2010 AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Championship.