DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 16, 2012) - Reigning AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Champion Josh Hayes accomplished what he could not one year ago in Friday’s season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Hayes once again led from the green flag, but unlike last year the veteran was able to hold off rival Blake Young in National Guard SuperBike Race 1 to take his first SuperBike win at the historic venue.
Making his way into the lead just as the pack hit the line to complete the first lap, Hayes put his head down, took full advantage of his No. 1 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1′s newfound legs, and clicked off a series of blazing laps to break the pursuit of his challengers.
Meanwhile, last season’s double Daytona winner, Blake Young, found himself in a brawl for second with Hayes’ first-year National Guard SuperBike teammate, Josh Herrin, and National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden, and was helpless to do anything about Hayes’ rapid escape during the race’s early stages.
The contest became further stretched out when Herrin lost the front and crashed from third place on lap 6 of 15. The 21-year old, who led all but the final meters of the opening lap of his Superbike debut before being double drafted by Hayes and Young, remounted and briefly re-entered the fray before eventually retiring.
Hayden lost ground as well, running wide in Turn 1 and losing touch with Yoshimura Racing Suzuki ace Young in the race for the runner-up position.
Hayes continued on in flawless fashion at the front to score his 18th career AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike victory, boasting an 8.332-second margin of victory over Young.
Prior to the contest, Hayes claimed that he and his team had put forth a great deal of effort in the offseason to ensure they came out stronger this season than in 2011. The 36-year-old Mississippian’s performance backed up those statements while serving notice to the rest of the field.
“It was a pretty good day, I’d say,” Hayes said. “It’s a tough field. Blake rode really well last year. Tommy (Hayden) was all over me. Rog was taking all the necessary steps to be a big pain at the end of the year and Herrin has been fast in testing. So I just went home and worked really, really hard to try to take another step in my game and the team has been working really hard on the machine. This is the payoff. Daytona is one of the tracks last year where we were fast but couldn’t get it done. This year we were able to take it another step and I hope we’ll be able to do that at every racetrack this year.”
“I’m pretty disappointed with my performance today,” Young said. “I feel like my team worked really, really hard. I feel like all weekend long I’ve been just a little bit behind on the curve. I haven’t really got out and run faster than Josh all weekend and that obviously makes for a difficult weekend. Like I said, I’m not happy with today’s race. Whether I have to get out of bed on the other side tomorrow or put my left sock on before my right like I did today… Whatever I need to do, I need to not let this happen again.”
Hayden completed his lonely ride to the final podium position, taking the checkered flag some 16 seconds behind the race winner.
“It’s a good way to start the season, finishing on the podium,” Hayden said. “But at the same time, it’s not very satisfying with the gap to Blake and the gap to Josh being a little bigger than we wanted. But we’ll regroup tonight and try to change the bike and try to put a better show on tomorrow.”
Jordan Suzuki’s Ben Bostrom was another high-profile crasher, falling from fourth moments after taking the position away from Motorcycle-Superstore.com/Big Kahuna/LeoVince Attack Kawasaki’s Steve Rapp near half-distance.
However, despite Bostrom’s mistake, Rapp was ultimately unable to lock down the position, losing out at the stripe to Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing BMW’s Larry Pegram by a scant 0.001 seconds — a dramatic moment in an otherwise largely processional race.
Team Amsoil/Hero EBR’s Geoff May earned sixth, with Evan Steel Performance BMW’s Jake Holden, Team Venezuela’s Robertino Pietri, Yoshimura Racing Suzuki’s Chris Clark, and Kneedraggers.com/Motul/Fly Racing’s David Anthony rounding out the top ten.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
The battle for the DAYTONA® 200 pole position is always a heated affair, with the prize of a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watch ready to stoke the already competitive fires. GEICO Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas, a former class champion who rarely shows his ultimate form in qualifying, stepped up on Friday afternoon to claim just his second-ever AMA Pro pole position. Despite the closing rally of better marks, Cardenas’ best lap of 1:49.560 was unsurpassed as time expired.
“Yesterday, we played with the setup and found something,” said Cardenas. “We kept up the pace today and in the afternoon I started good but ran off the track. I re-entered and then put in a couple of fast laps. I got held up on the first one, but I rode as hard as I could and I was able to secure the pole. I was close to getting the pole in 2010 but this time I was finally able to get it.”
Youngster Cameron Beaubier qualified second for the prestigious race, not exactly a surprise after the Californian challenged at the front of Daytona SportBike races last season as a class rookie. The Yamaha-mounted rider was able to turn in a sub 1:50-lap with a best time of 1:49.742 to finish second best despite being pitted against a very deep field.
“I got a good lap in and I wanted pole,” said Beaubier, who is making his race debut with Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha this weekend.
Provisional polesitter Jason DiSalvo wasn’t able to better his time in the afternoon session and was disappointed not to have won pole after leading every prior session on his Latus Motors Triumph.
“Going forward, we’re just focused on the race. That result wasn’t indicative of what our team is capable of doing here. Sometimes, no matter how dialed in you are, it just doesn’t happen for you,” said DiSalvo. “We’re prepared to go the 200 miles and show what we can do in the race.”
Joey Pascarella and the P1A March of Dimes entry earned with a time of 1:50.155. The upstart team, which fielded Jake Zemke in last year’s 200, hadn’t tested the machine before arriving at Daytona but has shown the ability to contend for the 71st DAYTONA® 200 winner’s trophy.
Two-time AMA Supersport national champion Tommy Hayden was a last-minute addition to the field, flying down from his home in Kentucky on Friday night after getting the call to fill in as Beaubier’s teammate at Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha following the Thursday injury of Garrett Gerloff. Hayden qualified in 13th despite the considerable challenges presented by the eleventh hour entry.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
Last year’s AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport title winner James Rispoli resumed where he left off by winning a multi-rider pack battle in the season opener, edging Jake Lewis by just 0.031s at the conclusion of the 10-lap race. Rispoli and his Celtic Racing Suzuki GSX-R600 were a factor throughout and led the entire last lap despite harassment from Lewis. The pair battled on the banking one last time during the sprint to the stripe. Lewis, mounted on a Riders Discount/Vesrah Suzuki GSX-R600, was relentless but ran out of time to make his pass. Kneedragger.com/Galfer Racing’s Stefano Mesa took third place, 0.592s back.
AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series
The AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series season opener set the bar high for the rest of the year’s racing, featuring a four-rider drafting battle to the checkered flag. Kyle Wyman used the double draft aboard his Kyle Wyman Racing/Vesrah Harley-Davidson to blast past Bartel’s Harley-Davidson teammates Tyler O’Hara (second) and Michael Barnes (third) at the stripe to win his second consecutive Vance & Hines XR1200 Series race at Daytona International Speedway by 0.116 seconds.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Race 2 will open Saturday’s race action at 10:00 a. m. local time, followed by National Guard SuperBike Race 2 at 11:00 a.m. The opening ceremonies for the 71st running of the DAYTONA® 200 will start at 12:00 p.m. with the historic race featuring the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike contenders scheduled to officially get underway at 1:00 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).