BRASELTON, Ga. (April 21, 2012) – Blake Young scored one of the more improbable and remarkable victories in AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike history on Saturday at Road Atlanta in the opening half of the Triumph Big Kahuna Atlanta presented by Dunlop Tire and LeoVince.
The opening 13 laps of the battle went exactly to script; title rivals Josh Hayes on the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1 and Young aboard the Yoshimura Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 made a rapid escape from the field and once again settled in for what seemed likely to be a race-long showdown to the checkered flag.
Young sat in Hayes’ tow for much of the race’s first half before making his move on lap 10 of 20. The two then engaged in repeated duels entering Turn 10a and heading down the hill to Turn 12 with the lap leader point still up for grabs.
Young was able to enter 10a on either the inside or outside with success, but Hayes proved capable of countering by swinging back under to out-accelerate Young heading down the hill in order to reclaim the advantage.
The two did precisely that on lap 13 but disaster struck during the lap-14 encore. The leaders came together heading down the hill as Hayes overtook Young; the Wisconsin native was slammed down to the pavement as their bikes got hung up together with Young’s front wheel in the air. Blake’s year-plus streak without a crash was ended in an instant, along with his title hopes — or so it seemed.
A red flag was immediately thrown as the Suzuki star rolled around in obvious pain. However, Young gritted it out, refused medical attention, and limped back to his fallen machine and rode it back into the pitlane to prepare for the restart. At the same time Hayes stopped and waited to check on his rival’s condition.
Forced to regrid at the very back of the field, Young somehow sliced his way up to fourth by the completion of the opening lap of the restart. The fall didn’t temper Young’s aggressiveness in the least — if anything, he was only more determined. He quickly ripped past National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden and Hayes’ teammate (and two-time holeshot winner), Josh Herrin, to glue himself right back on his nemesis’ rear wheel.
Young and Hayes resumed their earlier heavyweight tilt, trading inside and outside overtakings to the final lap. The Suzuki pilot made a slingshot maneuver into the lead on the backstraight and then heavily defended through the chicane and down the hill.
Hayes made a last-gasp attempt up the inside of the race’s final corner, but Young squared him up and leapt back past as they accelerated to the stripe, winning by 0.293-seconds at the checkered flag.
After winning the first Big Kahuna race of ’12, Young joked, “I could have used that surf board when I surfed down the pavement.”
“I wasn’t too happy about starting on the back row,” Young said of the restart. “But I guess that’s the rule. It was a good race for us today — I got a spectacular race. I tried to settle in but I found myself trying to get a breath and it was pretty tough. I was taking a lot of short breaths — I don’t know if it was a result of the crash or because of the adrenaline.
“Once I got to the back of Josh, it seemed like he had a pace that I didn’t think I could keep up with but maybe try to do something toward the end there and get a wheel in and mount a pass. I would have been happy to come away with second today.
“Josh came up in the inside on the last lap. He came up there pretty fast and I knew it was going to be tough to get slowed down there and I just squared him up and took it back.”
In a show of sportsmanship, Hayes bowed to the victorious Young on his victory lap.
Hayes said, “All-in-all, for me it was a pretty good day. I’m not even that upset about losing the race. More than anything I was really upset when me and Blake tangled up and I realized he wasn’t there. It scared me pretty bad.
“For him to be able to get his stuff together and get back out there and race the way he did… bravo. Man, I think it’s a great story. It was a hero ride and it’s great for our sport. Big congrats to him.”
Herrin and Hayden did an admirable job to stick with the leading duo in the post-red flag sprint. Rookie Herrin ultimately scored the first SuperBike podium of his career, finishing less than a second behind the win.
“At the first start I just didn’t have the pace to race with Josh and Blake — they were riding really good,” Herrin admitted. “When the red flag came out, it gave me a second chance and I decided to take advantage of it. I felt really good going back out and just gave it everything I had. I didn’t give up at all. I was hoping for (the win). It didn’t come but I got on the podium, which was my main goal for the weekend.”
Hayden came home in fourth while Team Amsoil/Hero EBR’s Geoff May picked up an impressive top-five at his home circuit.
Chris Fillmore (KTM/HMC) finished in sixth, with Steve Rapp (Attack Performance Kawasaki), Ben Bostrom (Jordan Suzuki), Chris Clark (Yoshimura Racing Suzuki) and Danny Eslick (Team Hero EBR) rounding out the top ten.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
Former series champion Martin Cardenas won his first AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike contest of the year on Saturday. The GEICO Suzuki rider set pole and ran away with the 20-lap race, although it was not without two drama-filled moments he experienced while riding alone. The second near-miss saw Cardenas, then with a five-second lead, run through the grass to keep from crashing. The Colombian quickly regrouped and set his quick lap of the race the following time around, though.
“It was enough to win this race. I thought it was going to be a big battle like always,” said Cardenas, surprised to have run much of the race by himself.
Dane Westby earned second with a brilliant ride. Westby, on board the M4 Broaster Chicken Suzuki, got a poor start and charged through the top 10 to second place. The Oklahoman’s race was reminiscent of his Mid-Ohio victory last season as he continued to gain momentum throughout.
Tommy Hayden earned third in his substitute ride on the Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha. Hayden had a race-long battle with Benny Solis (Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki) who crashed at turn 10 on the penultimate lap. Jake Zemke, riding for the local Ducshop Ducati team, followed. Cory West (Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki) was solid on his way to fifth place, ahead of former AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race-winner Bobby Fong (Meen Motorsports) and Huntley Nash in his best ever GoPro Daytona SportBike result for LTD Racing.
DAYTONA® 200 Winner Joey Pascarella earned eighth in his first race for SGA Racing. J.D.Beach was ninth for RoadRace Factory/Red Bull and Michael Beck (Full Tuck Racing) rounded out the top 10.
AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport
James Rispoli (Orient Express Celtic Racing) won for the second time in 2012. The reigning AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport king emerged victorious in a hard-fought battle with Jake Lewis (Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki) that took 16 laps to decide. Rispoli and Lewis both led before Rispoli consolidated the lead at the end to take victory.
Four riders comprised the next group, with Castrol Triumph’s Dustin Dominguez taking the spot and the last place on the podium ahead of Travis Wyman (Harv’s H-D Yamaha) and Stefano Mesa (Kneedraggers.com Yamaha). RoadRace Factory/Red Bull’s Hayden Gillim ran third for much of the race, but faded to sixth.
AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series
Tyler O’Hara won pole for the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Series at Road Atlanta. O’Hara, who won the Indianapolis race last year, set a best mark of 1:39.478 on his Bartel’s Harley -Davidson XR1200.
Youth and experience were both showcased as Kyle Wyman (KWR), Michael Barnes (Bartel’s), and Steve Rapp (Harv’s Harley-Davidson) will round out the front row.
Tune In to SPEED
Find out who will become the next Big Kahuna in AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike and AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike by tuning in to SPEED for a set of same-day delayed broadcasts scheduled to begin Sunday at 11:00 p.m. ET (8:00 p.m. PT).