Friday, June 8, 2012
AMA Road Racing: Graves Yamaha Extended Service Team Announces Tommy Hayden to Ride Remainder of Season in AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Series
Tommy Hayden on the #22 Muzzy's Kawasaki/Dunlop/Bel-Ray/SBS-sponsored ZX-6 leads eventual event winner and soon-to-be '98 AMA 600 SuperSport Champion Steve Crevier on the #4 American Suzuki/Yoshimura USA/Dunlop/American Showa-backed GSX-R600 early in the AMA Pro Road Racing Kerker 600 SuperSport Series final at Mid-Ohio in July 1998.
Crevier would go on to best Tommy Gun and a field full of AMA Superbike Championship regulars (Hayden was in his second season of also riding the Muzzy ZX-7 Superbike) in his only win in the series for the season, but with his consistency throughout the season-long series was able to win his only AMA Pro Road Racing championship, to add to his bevy of Canadian Superbike and SuperSport championships.
Hayden, the oldest of the Hayden Clan out of Owensboro, KY. would go on to win a pair of 600 SuperSport Championships ('04-'05) while riding for the factory-based Kawasaki Motors Corp. team, winning seven events and 10 additional podiums over the course of the two seasons.
In the '07 season, Hayden would leave the Kawasaki team(s) that he had been so-long associated with to ride for the Yoshimura Suzuki team as a team mate to multi-time champs Mat Mladin and Ben Spies, and splitting time in the 600 SuperSport series, where he would finally break through with his virgin AMA Superbike win during the 2010 season. But, by the end of the '11 season in spite of winning races and finishing in the top-3 in points during the '10-'11 seasons, Hayden was out of a job due to the still-struggling economy in general, and in racing in particular.
Heading into the season-opening round at Daytona in March '12, it looked like Tommy Gun was going to be on the fence for the new season, a victim of the economy. But just two days before the Daytona 200, Graves Motorsports Yamaha Extended Service regular rider Garrett Gerloff was unfortunately injured in a practice crash for the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Series, and Hayden was called into last-minute duty to fill in on the #8 YZF-R6 for the team, where he brought home a solid 7th-place finish on the day.
Since that time, Tommy has been garnering great results for the team in Gerloff's absence and now sits in the 4th-place spot in the 2012 AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Series championship on the #8 Graves Yamaha, just a few points out of the 3rd-place spot. After the Road America round 5 event last weekend, it still wasn't known if Hayden would still have a seat after Gerloff's return in the near future.
But great things happen to great people, and in the case of Tommy Hayden his patience and his results have paid off as today Yamaha Racing team manager Keith McCarty made it official that he would be staying on the team through the end of the '12 season and for the rest of the year would be riding his his familiar #22. Gerloff's return is still uncertain but at this time Yamaha is still expecting him back before the end of the season.
This is great news for Tommy Hayden and his fans, and you can read the full release from Yamaha below!