Saturday’s first race day of the New Jersey Motorsports Park at the AMA Pro SuperBike weekend saw the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike race have a surprise ending that may have major ramifications for the overall season championship.
Josh Hayes and his Team Graves Yamaha took a fortunate victory over Tommy Hayden with Ben Bostrom third.
Hayes grabbed the lead early and basically drove off into the distance. Behind him, first Jake Zemke on his National Guard Jordan Suzuki grabbed second from Hayden and his Rockstar Makita Suzuki with Bostrom on his Pat Clark Motorsports Palms Casino Yamaha having his own battle with John Hopkins on his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki.
Tommy’s Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate Blake Young was making a welcome return to the series and was running well in his first race since Road America in June.
Bostrom was able to get by Zemke and set off after Hayes but the gap stabilized at around two second as Hayes rode the perfect race, very similar to his last win at VIR.
As the race neared its conclusion, Tommy Hayden once again dug deep and began a charge to the front.
First, he passed Bostrom and then as quick as that, he and Ben caught Hayes who had a moment that threw his concentration off and allowed Hayden and Bostrom to catch up. By lap twenty of twenty three, they were less than a second behind Josh and closing fast.
As the three started the last lap, Hayden was right on Hayes’ tail and they were side by side as they went over the start/finish line.
Going into turn one, Hayden was able to make a solid pass for the lead and even though there were about two miles to go and Hayes had not conceded victory, Hayden looked liked he had stolen this race from Hayes with a perfectly judged last minute pass for the win.
But, it was not to be, in a flash, Brett McCormick had a big fall at turn 13 as he was coming up to begin his final lap and he went down with his Jordan Suzuki ricocheting back into the middle of the racetrack where officials had no choice but to immediately red flag the race.
By rule, the scoring reverts to the previous completed lap therefore Josh Hayes took the win and the valuable points that went with it.
Hayden began the race ten points back, having taken his career first Pole Position in a year that has also seen him capture his first AMA Pro SuperBike victory back in March and subsequently add three more wins to his career total.
He now trails Hayes by 16 points but if this year’s form is anything to go by, Hayden will bounce back stronger than ever tomorrow in the second race of the New Jersey Motorsports Park SuperBike weekend.
Hayes rode a deserving race today also and is a perfect three for three at this racetrack. He has a little more in store for tomorrow and it should be another chapter in what is a classic year in AMA Pro SuperBike as these two very accomplished and deserving champions fight to the finish for the title.
In the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike race, the championship battle tightened up even closer as Martin Cardenas, on his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki won for the seventh time this year.
Team Graves Yamaha rider Josh Herrin took a hard fought second place from a resurgent Dane Westby on his Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha.
Championship points leader Danny Eslick led the early stages of the race and also the second stage of the race following a red flag period on lap six for an accident involving Tommy Aquino and his Team Graves Yamaha.
Tommy had a fall on the front straight and although it looked worse than it was, the race was stopped to insure safe removal of his motorcycle and to attend to a quickly recovered Aquino.
On the restart, Eslick really extended his lead over Cory West, Westby and Martin Cardenas with Herrin in close pursuit.
Slowly but surely, the group reeled Danny in and in a flash, Herrin was by and then Martin made a big move and the order was reshuffled with Martin taking the lead from Herrin with Bobby Fong moving into third as Herrin fell to fifth.
Josh fought his way back to second by the end as Martin was able to pull out a slight gap back to Herrin and Westby.
West, on his Vesrah Suzuki ended up sixth ahead of P.J. Jacobson again having a good result with his Celtic Racing Suzuki. Bobby Fong ended up fourth on his DNA Energy Drink Ducati ahead of Eslick on his GEICO Powersports Suzuki.
Eslick maintains a two point lead over Cardenas who is only three points ahead of Herrin. As with every race this year in Daytona SportBike, the action was taking place all over the racetrack, at one point there was a six to seven bike train at the front and many more battles back through the field.
Tomorrow will be race two for the Daytona SportBikes and if today was anything to go by, there will be action galore as Danny Eslick, Martin Cardenas and Josh Herrin continue their championship battle right down to the wire.