DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 15, 2012) - Defending AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Champion Josh Hayes put his No. 1-plated Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1 on top of the order in Thursday's season-opening qualifying session at Daytona International Speedway. Additionally, Hayes was clocked at 205.42 miles per hour in the morning practice following a solid draft.
The 36-year-old Mississippian made his way to the front of the pack early in the session and never relented, ultimately claiming the provisional pole position with a lap of 1:38.385 around the Speedway's 2.90-mile short course.
Reminiscent of his stellar qualifying form of one season ago in which his seven poles laid the foundation for his successful title defense, Hayes was over a second quicker than his closest rivals for the majority of the session.
"I'm really happy," Hayes said. "The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha crew has obviously done a lot of good work; we find ourselves a lot further up in the trap speeds. And I've worked pretty hard in the offseason. I feel really good on the bike and I'm doing lots of laps.
"All-in-all, I'm just really happy to be here. The weather is perfect. It's Daytona Beach, Florida, riding motorcycles."
Yoshimura Racing Suzuki's Blake Young brought the margin in considerably on his last flying lap, however, ripping off a 1:38.579 to finish less than two tenths behind his rival. Young, who only claimed a single pole in 2011, will look to do one better in Friday morning's final qualifying session in hopes of stealing an early one-point advantage prior to the afternoon's season-opening race.
National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden was another man who did well to live up to lofty preseason expectations on Thursday, clocking the third fastest lap and standing as the last man to break into the 1:38s, finishing the 45-minute session at 1:38.948.
Hayes' teammate, Josh Herrin wasn't far back, charging his way around the high banks less than a tenth behind Hayden at 1:39.011 in his SuperBike debut to complete the provisional front row.
Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom was fifth, followed by Young's new Yoshimura teammate, Chris Clark. The provisional second row was rounded out by Motorcycle-Superstore.com/Big Kahuna/LeoVince Attack Kawasaki's Steve Rapp and Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing BMW's Larry Pegram.
The final grid for Friday afternoon's AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike season opener will be set following the conclusion of tomorrow morning's second qualifying session.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
Jason DiSalvo of the Latus Motors Racing team topped practice for the DAYTONA® 200 on Thursday. The Triumph-mounted rider posted a best time of 1:49.734 and was the only rider to break the 1:50 mark. Young competitors Cameron Beaubier (Graves Yamaha) and Joey Pascarella (P1A March of Dimes) joined the veteran rider at the front on Thursday afternoon. Former class champion Martin Cardenas marked his return to the class with fourth-best time in the afternoon.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
Corey Alexander and James Rispoli battled it out for the best Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport time in provisional qualifying. Alexander (National Guard Suzuki) topped defending Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport National champ Rispoli (Celtic Racing/Orient Express) on his final two laps of the session.
AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series
Defending AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series Daytona race winner Kyle Wyman (Kyle Wyman Racing/Vesrah Harley-Davidson) stole away the provisional pole from veteran pilot Michael Barnes on his final lap in Thursday's qualifying session. Wyman narrowly edged the 1989 Daytona Supersport winner, eclipsing Barnes' mark of 2:06.828 with a 2:06.636 on his last lap of the session.
Grids for all four AMA Pro Road Racing classes will be set following Friday's final qualifying sessions, beginning at 8:00 a.m. local time with AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport. The thundering twins of the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series will start the first racing action of the weekend at 2:15 p.m., followed by Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Race 1 at 3:00 p.m. and National Guard SuperBike Race 1 at 4:00 p.m.
Live Timing & Scoring of all on-track sessions will be available at http://live.amaproracing.com/rr/. Between the races, stay connected with AMA Pro Road Racing at www.twitter.com/AMAProSBK and www.facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing; keep up with Daytona International Speedway via Twitter (www.twitter.com/DISupdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway).
AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at www.amaproracing.com.
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AMA Pro Racing Communications, (386) 492-1014, firstname.lastname@example.org