SONOMA, Calif. (May 6, 2012) - Sunday's AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike showdown at Infineon Raceway proved to be a complete reversal of fortunes. Yoshimura Racing Suzuki's Blake Young responded to Josh Hayes' dominating showing on Saturday to score a crucial victory on Sunday, extending the season-long weekend victory split between himself and his title rival.
A second Great Clips West Coast Moto Jam triumph on the part of double class champion Hayes felt almost inevitable as the SuperBikes took the grid. After all, the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha star led every single practice, every qualifying session, and every lap leading into the race -- and all by a sizable margin.
Hayes again scorched off into the lead at the race's opening, building up an imposing 1.033-second gap on the race's first lap. However, before the pack could even settle in for the battle for second, Hayes made an uncharacteristic error, crashing his #1 YZF-R1 while running alone out in front on the race's second lap. And at almost the same moment, Young overhauled National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden to inherit the lead.
Young spent the next several laps outlasting an early-race challenge from both a resurgent Hayden and second works Yamaha pilot Josh Herrin. Young finally ended both men's hopes of a maiden SuperBike win, working his advantage up to around a second by lap 10 of 22 and steadily building it to well over three seconds by the time he finally took his checkered for his 13th career class victory.
"Obviously, I was battling with Roger at the beginning and I saw Josh go down," Young explained. "My first thought was maybe there was something on the track, and I kind of saw out the corner of my eye that he was okay. I knew there was a long race ahead of me so I knew I needed to concentrate and focus. It's pretty easy around this racetrack -- as I found out all weekend long -- to get excited, start grabbing the brakes hard, get on the gas a little bit aggressively, and find yourself going backwards pretty quick.
"I knew I needed to mellow out, ride my own race, and watch the board. With that said I knew there were a bunch of hungry guys behind me itching for their first win, and with Josh out of the way, everybody behind me was ready to take a shot at me. It's good to get a win out of here -- it's my first win here. I was just talking to (Yoshimura Racing Suzuki Team Manager) Peter Doyle and he told me the first time I came here I got sixth, the next race I got fifth, the next race I got fourth, the next race I got third, yesterday I got second, and today I won. It's kind of funny how things work out."
Larry Pegram #72, Geoff May #99, Roger Lee Hayden #54, Danny Eslick #69, Blake Young #79 and Josh Hayes #1 fan out on the first lap of the AMA Superbike Championship race two at Infineon Raceway on Sunday, May 6, 2012. AMA Pro Road Racing photo by Brian J. Nelson.
National Guard SuperBike freshman Herrin moved into the runner-up spot on lap 14 but his time there didn't last long. Furthering Yamaha's misery on the day, a few laps after taking control of second Herrin was forced to pull out of the event due to a mechanical issue. Hayden wasn't yet in the clear, however as Team Amsoil/Hero EBR's Geoff May and Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom tracked the Kentuckian down. May even stole the position for a time late in the race before Hayden snatched it back on a dramatic final lap.
The runner-up result is the best SuperBike finish of Hayden's career. After the race he said, "I got a good start for once and then when Josh crashed I tried to stay with Blake. I stayed pretty close, but I really struggled in the chicane over there. Every time I would make up some ground he would pull it back out. I was just on the edge trying to keep up and I started sliding all over the place. I fell back a little bit and when Geoff May came by me I hung onto him and just waited until the last few laps and we had a good battle. We missed the podium at Atlanta and struggled early this weekend so it's nice to close out the weekend on a good note."
May backed up the maiden podium for the EBR 1190RS taken by teammate Danny Eslick on Saturday with one of his own. "I definitely had to fight really hard to get that one," May said. "I didn't get the greatest of starts but got up there with the pack and just tried to conserve my tire and be patient and not expend too much energy because I knew with the heat today it was going to be tough. I just tried to ride as smart and clean as I could and just put my head down. I noticed the guys starting to fall off the pace and when I did I put all the energy into it. I got by Rog and then he hung on and we had a nice, clean little battle there at the end. It was fun. It feels good being back up here -- it's been a long two years coming."
Bostrom finished in fourth just a half-second off second-placed Hayden. Hayes was able to remount following his stunning mistake and started the long climb back up the field from 17th position and 18 seconds back. "I was able to do some decent laps after the crash but it wasn't quite the same," said Hayes. The Mississippian moved his way forward throughout the race and finally came home in seventh position -- just a few bike lengths behind fifth (KTM/HMC Racing's Chris Fillmore) and sixth (Eslick).
Hayes' resilient ride combined with his early-season bonus point bounty keeps the title fight close. Young has taken the lead but only by four points (166-162) with three wins apiece for each contender.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
Castrol Triumph's Jason DiSalvo won the Infineon Raceway AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race on Sunday. The New Yorker had faced some tough luck this year, showing great speed but having some mechanical ills. His luck changed on Sunday and he won the first-ever GoPro Daytona SportBike race for Triumph. "It's been a year (since I won)," said DiSalvo. "I rode as hard as I could. It sounds like there was a lot of stuff going on behind me. It was pretty brutal out there today. When it gets hot in Northern California, it gets really hot."
Tommy Hayden was last before the red flag after Jake Zemke's crash pushed him off the track, but the Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha man took full advantage of the red flag and subsequent restart. Hayden, who used a harder tire on Sunday, finished 9.531 seconds back and moved up to second place in the points.
DAYTONA® 200 winner Joey Pascarella (SGA Yamaha) earned anther podium with third place in Sonoma. Pascarella, from nearby Vacaville, California, ran at the front in both starts on Sunday.
The battle for fourth place was a thriller with Cory West (Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki) and J.D. Beach (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull) passing Bobby Fong (Meen Motorsports) in the last turn of the last lap.
Points leader Cardenas crashed out of second for GEICO Suzuki. Cardenas was able to pass Joey Pascarella and Tommy Hayden and was cutting into DiSalvo's lead in the closing laps, but tossed it away in the Esses on lap 18.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
James Rispoli (Orient Express Celtic Racing) won Sunday's AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport race at Infineon Raceway. After two red flags, Rispoli had a tough battle with Dustin Dominguez (Castrol Triumph) and Tomas Puerta (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull). The race came down to a ten-lap restart. Puerta applied the pressure to Rispoli early and Dominguez was the danger man for the last laps.
"Luckily, I had a good start all three times. Today I rode really hard and hats off to everybody," said Rispoli. "Everyone is riding really well in SuperSport right now."
Road Atlanta winner Jake Lewis was able to pressure Puerta late. The Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki rider beat Hayden Gillim (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull) by less than 0.03 for fourth place. Just 2.650 seconds separated the top five riders in the 54-competitor field.
Veteran ace Michael Barnes scored his first AMA Pro Road Racing victory in 16 years on Sunday with a well-measured strike at the checkered flag to defeat his Bartel's Harley-Davidson teammate, Tyler O'Hara. O'Hara and Barnes broke free of polesitter KLR Group/Vesrah's Kyle Wyman in the early going and turned the race into an all-Bartels affair at the front. Barnes was content to just sit on O'Hara's rear wheel and wait for an opportunity to make his move. That opportunity came at the last possible moment, and Barnes capitalized by out-accelerating his teammate in the lunge to the flag.
Barnes ripped past O'Hara, whose machine momentarily popped out of gear, to claim his third career AMA Pro win by a just 0.149 seconds (his previous wins came in 1989 and 1996).
Daytona winner Wyman took a lonely third while Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson's Shane Narbonne won out in an exciting fight for fourth with XP Motorsport's Michael Corbino.
AMA Pro Road Racing will share the spotlight with the stars of the Superbike World Championship at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele Valley, Utah for the BigM Weekend on May 26-28.
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