Yamaha’s Josh Hayes remains unbeaten at New Jersey Motorsports Park after taking Sunday’s victory in the penultimate weekend of the AMA Pro Superbike Championship, beating championship rival Tommy Hayden to extend his points lead to 22 points with two rounds remaining.
In the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike race, Hayes kept his perfect New Jersey Motorsports Park record intact with his second win of the weekend and his fourth at NJMP after his two race sweep in 2009.
Hayes, who benefitted from a timely red flag at the very end of Saturday’s race, took a more clear cut victory today and in a way, again benefitted from a red flag period, this time on lap five when Ben Bostrom crashed out on his Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha.
Hayes said he was feeling a little rough and when the race was stopped, he regrouped and felt better after the restart. His championship rival Hayden had two great starts on his Rockstar Makita Suzuki and led both race segments.
After things settled down, it was a two horse show with Hayes taking over the lead on lap nine and he and Tommy rode away from the interesting third place battle between Jake Zemke and his National Guard Jordan Suzuki, Hayden’s Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate, Blake Young, M4 Monster Energy Suzuki rider John Hopkins and Brett McCormick on the second Jordan Suzuki.
Watched by owner Michael Jordan, Zemke held off Young and Hopkins and was in second in the early stages of the first segment of the race. By lap 16, both Blake Young and Hopkins passed Zemke and had their own private battle to the flag which Hopkins won by 0.015 of a second to take his first podium finish of the season.
Hopkins has had a long road back this year, being sidelined by a wrist injury that he finally corrected after one diagnosis indicated that he should retire form motorcycle racing. Fortunately for his team and the many fans in attendance today, Hopkins had another Doctor virtually rebuild his wrist and he is finally completely fit and showed it with his great race today.
At the front, Hayden took the lead back from Hayes on lap 19 and although he was in front, he couldn’t shake off Josh. On lap 21, Josh retook the lead but it was the same situation, Hayden was still right there, waiting to pounce.
On the final lap, with Hayes still in front, Hayden took a shot at the lead in turn one but couldn’t hold the line. Twice more on the last lap, Hayden bravely dove into corners to try and wrest the lead from Hayes but after the last attempt, the Yamaha rider was able to take the win by 0.325 of a second for his seventh race victory of the year.
Hayes pushed his points lead to 22 points but with two races and 63 points to play for, the championship is far from over. Behind Hopkins and Young, Brett McCormick took fifth ahead of his teammate Zemke followed by Geoff May on his Erik Buell Racing Buell.
Danny Eslick took his third win of the season after another typical epic AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Presented by AMSOIL race.
From the start, there was a solid, 10 motorcycle group battling tooth and nail for the lead. Lead by Eslick on his GEICO Powersports Suzuki, the pack consisted of Tommy Aquino on his Team Graves Yamaha, Cory West on his Vesrah Suzuki, Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha’s Dane Westby, DNA Energy Drink Ducati’s Bobby Fong, Team Latus Motors Ducati’s Steve Rapp, Martin Cardenas on his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki, Chris Fillmore on his Vesrah Suzuki, Team Graves Yamaha’s Josh Herrin and Paul Allison on the Chronic Motorsports Yamaha.
The first to exit the stage was Steve Rapp, he had an unfortunate fall on lap 14 and ended up retiring his Ducati. Dane Westby had a big save the next lap and he was part of the now nine that were covered by less than one second.
After his dramatic crash in yesterday’s race, Tommy Aquino showed his courage and skill by not only running up front, but he lead a number of laps.
On lap 17, Cory West, who had been right in the thick of things, running second for a number of laps, had a mechanical problem going into turn one on lap 17 and without impeding anyone else, he calmly drove his Vesrah Suzuki off the track, and parked his bike in the sand, ending his good day.
Championship contender Josh Herrin had worked his way to the front again after starting eleventh. He was ninth after one lap and by lap seventeen, he was right up front fighting for the lead. He then made a big move on lap twenty to take the lead and he looked like he was again going to rebound with another Sunday win.
The third rider in the thick of the championship battle, Martin Cardenas also took a shot at the front on lap 21 in turn one but couldn’t hold his line and was quickly re-passed after the ambitious move. On the same lap, Chris Fillmore went down in turn three. On the last lap, Bobby Fong and Dane Westby collided and fell but both were quickly back up and continued to finish sixth and seventh.
But it was up front where the real action was and Eslick totally committed himself to a pass on Herrin in turn nine and there was nothing Josh could do to hold Danny back. Eslick took the position with a clean but decisive pass and won by only 0.510 of a second.
Cardenas was a fortunate third after the incident between Fong and Westby and the championship battle will now be settled at the final doubleheader race weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.
The season finale at Barber Motorsports Park will be the title decider in both National Guard SuperBike and also Daytona SportBike on 24-26 September.