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Sep 14, 2012

AMA Pro Racing Recaps The Action From New Jersey Motorsports Park

Shane Narbonne (46) leads his MOB Racing teammate Jake Holden (59). Photo by Brian J. Nelson, courtesy of AMA Pro Racing
GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Recap:

Josh Hayes Continues Dominant Performance at American Red Cross Devil's Showdown presented by Team ProMotion at New Jersey Motorsports Park

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 14, 2012) - Without a genuine challenger on the racetrack, AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike champion Josh Hayes continued to race against the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing record books at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha superstar logged yet another perfect weekend as he proved unstoppable at the American Red Cross Devil's Showdown presented by Team ProMotion.

Hayes' run of dominance is unprecedented and the Mississippian is currently assembling a strong case suggesting he's in the midst of the single greatest campaign in the sport's history.

At NJMP, Hayes achieved two more significant milestones, upping his '12 wins tally to 13 and his victory streak to 10, both new series records.

Further underlining his complete control of the premier class is the fact that he notched up a 12th straight pole position dating back to the 2011 season.

With his propensity to run away out front and lead the most laps, those factors have combined to see Hayes score maximum points in 10 consecutive races - a staggering feat considering the closeness of National Guard SuperBike racing in the previous seasons.

Perhaps even scarier for his competitors is the fact that Hayes is only three minor miscalculations away from being completely perfect on the season. He got a poor drive onto the banking on the last lap at Daytona, waited too long to pass teammate Josh Herrin after a red flag at Road Atlanta, and dropped the bike while leading in Infineon.

At the front, both SuperBike finals at NJMP were more or less the same. Hayes got off the line from pole well and demonstrated speed that no one could rival. On Saturday he torched out to a 20-plus second margin-of-victory, while on Sunday, he 'cruised' to an eight-second win.

After both blowouts, Hayes just shook his head and opened with an identical rhetorical question: "What can I say?"

"To be able to stretch away and pull away like that... just having pace on people -- that's what racing is all about. I like it and I'm working really hard and having fun."

Hayes, who was repeatedly passed over for SuperBike opportunities and didn't land that long-awaited opportunity until his mid-thirties, spoke of his underdog assault on the record books: "It's pretty cool. When I got this opportunity at Yamaha I couldn't imagine I'd be here now. I'm still pretty awestruck by it. When I graduated high school I had just bought my first street bike and to think that one day I'd be here is pretty amazing. I hope my parents are proud. I'm proud of what I've accomplished and I'm going to keep working hard at it and do it for as long as I can."

The racing behind Hayes was considerably more unpredictable. Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom had been without a podium result since the last time the series visited NJMP and was committed to putting that inauspicious streak to an end.

The former World Superbike star accomplished that goal, but likely had to pass more riders than anyone else over the course of the weekend to do so.

He limped off the line on Saturday and battled his way up from outside the top ten to finish as the race's runner-up.

Meanwhile, the Californian was away well on Sunday, but was punted off track in an incident with Hayes' Monster Energy Graves Yamaha teammate, Josh Herrin, and dropped down to 15th. He again sliced his way forward, but fell short of the box, rounding out his weekend with a fifth.

"It was entertaining," Bostrom remarked. "Saturday's race started out a bit rocky for me, but overall it was a really fun race. It wasn't the most productive race, but it was really enjoyable. I could see the frontrunners battling and that allowed me to catch up to them."

Herrin, meanwhile, chased after Hayes after his Sunday run-in with Bostrom. Struggling through perhaps his most difficult weekend as a SuperBike contender, the SuperBike class freshman proved his mettle by rebounding with a Sunday podium after being well off the pace throughout the lead-up.

Just a sniff of the escaping Hayes was all Herrin needed to separate from the pack and he held strong for second, improving on his Saturday fifth.

Herrin admitted, "(Saturday) was horrible. It was nice to get a good start and be up there today and not have to work twice as hard to get there. I was trying to make the least amount of mistakes that I could. Josh had already gotten a little bit of a gap so I was trying to put a gap on them so I didn't have to keep working super hard to keep them from passing me.

"This was probably the worst weekend I'd had all season as far as all the sessions go. It was definitely cool for me to fall and have a race like we did yesterday and bounce back like we did today."

Bostrom's teammate, Roger Hayden, had his start-line issues as well. Twice falling back from his hard-earned spot on the front row, the National Guard Jordan Suzuki pilot came away with a disappointing ninth on Saturday but stepped up to claim third on Sunday.

Still, it wasn't exactly the result Hayden was looking for, particularly after fighting for the win at NJMP a year ago and showing competitive speed at Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca.

"The podium was maybe a gift today," Hayden said. "We pretty much struggled all weekend being consistent. I think I showed up a little bit rusty... But all and all, I'm happy with the podium. My pace was a lot better than yesterday but we still have to cut down the gap to the two Joshes."

Another rider who earned a podium on the weekend but left disappointed was Blake Young. The Yoshimura Suzuki rider score one of the more legendary victories in memory at the circuit a year ago. And while he continued to notch up strong results (third and fourth), Young is desperate to find a way to end Hayes' uninterrupted run of success.

Young's Saturday third was his 14th podium of the season. He might have very well been in line for a 15th on Sunday but came together with Team Amsoil/Hero EBR's Geoff May while passing his rival for third.

May crashed while Young ran off-course and returned to ultimately beat Bostrom, Attack Performance Kawasaki's Steve Rapp, and Riders Discount L&L Supply's Taylor Knapp for fourth.

"I really haven't been doing myself any favors in qualifying," said Young, who qualified fifth this weekend. "On Saturday, I got off to a good start on my Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 and got into second. But I was never able to settle in and feel comfortable. The weekend's been pretty frustrating for me and I know it has to be tough on my guys. The Yoshimura Suzuki team has been around for a long time and they deserve to win, so I need to perform better at Homestead in a few weeks."

Georgian May was also fast enough to threaten near the front on Saturday, but faded to sixth on a weekend that didn't pay off in the way that his pace predicted.

It was a somewhat similar story for Rapp. The veteran rider was confident returning to a racetrack for the first time on the Attack Performance ZX-10R and it showed early on Saturday as he charged into second position. However, his time there was short-lived as he crashed from the spot on lap 3.

His Sunday sixth was small consolation for what might have been.

Knapp was one of the more impressive stories of the weekend. He harassed big-name riders throughout the weekend and walked away with a fourth and a (competitive) seventh.

KTM/HMC Racing's Chris Fillmore also enjoyed a promising weekend, returning to action following his Barber Motorsports Park crash with a pair of top tens (8th and 10th).

He said, "I had a really solid ride during Saturday's race and was happy with the bike set-up and am excited to break into the top ten on my first race back.

"My hand is getting stronger every day and the most important thing for me to focus on is getting it to 100%. I have two weeks until the next race and I hope to return stronger and improve my results closer to the top five."

Others to land in the top ten on the weekend were Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing BMW's Larry Pegram (7th and 9th) and Team Hero EBR's Danny Eslick (8th on Sunday).

Hayes now boasts a mammoth 98-point advantage as the series prepares to travel to Homestead-Miami Speedway. Even a non-Hayes like performance in Florida should see the Yamaha ace clinch his third-career AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike title, which would tie him for second all-time in that category.


GoPro Daytona SportBike ReCap:

In its short history, New Jersey Motorsports Park has lent itself to some close races and this round's AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike action added to the list. Cameron Beaubier (Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha) and Martin Cardenas (GEICO Suzuki) split the wins this time out.

On Saturday, Beaubier emerged on top after moving from third to first late in the contest. Beaubier passed Dane Westby (M4 Suzuki) and Cardenas to win the red-flagged race by 0.023.

The Yamaha man took his fifth win of the year but said it took a while to get rolling. "I slotted into third the last few laps," said Beaubier. "I saw what Westby and Cardenas were doing and I was able to make my moves. I was a little out of my rhythm and I would have liked to have made my moves earlier but there was no way I was getting away from these guys. I tried to conserve my tires and wait until the end."

Cardenas wasn't able to make a pass after he lost the lead as the last lap was about to began. "I made two great starts and tried to get in a rhythm, but these guys were with me the whole time and we had a lot of passing," said the Colombian. "It was clean racing. Cameron got me in the first corner and I came up a little short today."

Westby received a penalty on Friday for riding backwards on the track after a crash, resulting in the Oklahoman starting the races from 13th position. It did little to slow his charge to the front, though. Westby was a contender for the win but wound up 0.465 back at the checkers. "We started way back but I wasn't worried," said Westby. "At the end, I saw there were just the three of us, which is what I wanted."

Bobby Fong ran up front before losing a bit of time to the leaders in the end. The Meen Motorsports pilot was fourth, 1.992 seconds back and just ahead of Y.E.S/Graves/Yamaha's Tommy Hayden, who managed to hang at the front.

Jason DiSalvo returned on his Triumph in Latus Motors Racing livery after missing Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The 2011 DAYTONA 200 winner finished sixth on Saturday.

Tommy Aquino has made the most of his opportunity as an injury replacement with the Kneedraggers.com Yamaha squad and he took seventh at a track where he's had success before.

The RoadRace Factory/Red Bull pilots Jake Gagne and J.D. Beach were next in the order, ahead of series veteran Aaron Gobert on the Full Tuck Yamaha.

Sunday's race was marred by an early accident caused when a rider ran off course and brought water onto the track surface as he returned to the course just in front of the lead pack. Tommy Hayden crashed big, along with Cameron Beaubier, Aaron Gobert and Michael Beck. Unfortunately, Hayden was taken in for medical evaluation while Beaubier was forced to watch as his machine was not ready when the race restarted.

Cardenas was able to get away clean and lead the first 17 laps of the race, holding Fong at bay. But his teammate Westby was closing fast and set the quickest lap of the race (1:23.308) catching up from his poor starting slot. Westby took the lead as he and Fong passed Cardenas. The Colombian, however, passed them both on the final lap to take win number seven and to increase his points lead.

The GEICO Suzuki rider knew Westby was super fast in the final section and wasn't sure if he had an answer, but he got a good drive on the last lap and was able to earn the win.

"The bike worked awesome all weekend," said Cardenas, "I was leading and I knew Bobby was right behind me. Dane passed me and so did Bobby and they did some good laps. I thought about throwing in the towel but I made one more run. I got a good drive out of the last corner and drafted them on the front straight. I knew all three of us could win. The last few races I was close, so I am glad today worked out for me."

Westby came up just short after his impressive run. "I smelled blood in the water. They were pretty far away for a while and my guys were showing me I was making up about a half-second per lap," said the Oklahoman. "Gauging them on a couple different corners it didn't seem like I was making that much progress and then I was. I latched onto them. It felt good -- the claws came out. It just didn't work out for us but a trophy and some champagne is not so bad."

Fong was impressive again, but disappointed not to get a win. "I'm really upset with myself and I timed everything wrong," said Fong. "It's a work in progress and every weekend, we're getting better." The result equaled his best of the season.

Aquino was just 4.501 seconds back with a hard-fought fourth to show for his efforts. He topped fellow rising star Jake Gagne, who had a rather uneventful top five finish. Cory West (Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki) was next in the final running order.

Veteran Jake Zemke brought the Ducshop Ducati home seventh, ahead of J.D. Beach, who was pushed wide early and was classified 23rd on lap one.

Reigning AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport West champ David Gaviria claimed his best GoPro Daytona SportBike result yet for Kneedraggers.com Yamaha with ninth. Beck was able to regroup from his early crash and finish tenth for Team Beck Racing.

Cardenas has the championship in hand with a 76-point lead going into the last two races, but Beaubier's emergence, Westby's improvement, and even the resilient Fong have shown that the Colombian doesn't rule the class with Hayes-like domination. Cardenas has been taking care of business for much of the summer -- earning those points to keep the championship firmly in hand. With only one mistake on the season in Sonoma, he's done exactly what he needed to do. He's raced hard but managed risks, and had to watch Beaubier and Westby get the better of him on occasion. That can't sit well with the 2010 GoPro Daytona SportBike champ. With just four races to go, Cardenas will want to wrap up the title and then prove a point to the interlopers.


AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Recap

The James Rispoli/Dustin Dominguez battles in AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport this season have been intense, with both riders showing they have considerable potential to do well as they move up to AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike in the future.

Rispoli was a class champion last year, so it is no surprise he continues to run up front on his Celtic Racing/ Orient Express Racing Suzuki. He's run impressive lap times all year. Dominguez had shown speed in the past, but this year his consistency has improved vastly. The Latus Motors Racing Triumph rider has improved greatly in 2012 and has harnessed a lot of the rawness of his previous riding style. He's still aggressive, but he's managed to eliminate mistakes he's made in the past.

Both riders seem to enjoy the competition and the two clearly have pushed each other to improve.

The two split wins at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Rispoli won on Saturday while being harried by his rival for the entire race, crossing the line 0.167 seconds ahead of Dominguez. Unfortunately for Dominguez, he was penalized for passing under a yellow flag and received a penalty, so he lost second place in the process and was classified sixth.

"The race was pretty difficult," Rispoli admitted. "It was a little slick today and we just tried to get a good start and run a good pace. I saw that (Dustin and I) had a pretty good gap and then I didn't know what was going on with the 20 seconds. I got back by Dustin and brought it home. I didn't know what was going on so I just kept pushing like it was the last lap and we were pushing for the win."

On Sunday, the two went at it again for the entire race. Dominguez was declared the winner in a contest that saw two red flags. The second one occurred with three laps to go just after Rispoli had taken the lead. When the two encountered lapped traffic, Dominguez and Babuska Racing's Chris Starke collided. Dominguez remained upright but Starke did not.

"The race was going good and James and I were going at it," Dominguez said. "It was unfortunate there at the end. We got into lapped traffic and kind of collided there. I feel horrible -- it's probably one of the most uncomfortable wins I've ever had. I wish it would have come down to the end."

With four races left, it will be interesting to see which man gets the upper hand.

Behind them, the action was tight. On Saturday, Y.E.S/Graves/Yamaha's Garrett Gerloff managed to draft past RoadRace Factory/Red Bull's Tomas Puerta at the line to take second place in his first race back from an injury sustained at Daytona. Puerta's teammate Hayden Gillim finished just behind the duo. Elkhart winner Stefano Mesa(Kneedraggers.com Yamaha) finished four seconds back. New Jersey's Eric Stump earned seventh in the race.

On Sunday, the red flag ended a seven-rider battle for third, with all of the riders crossing the line within a shade more than a second of each other. The pack included Jake Lewis, who took third, Corey Alexander on the National Guard/Fairhills Group machine, Gerloff, Mesa, Puerta, Elena Myers on the Suzuki SportBikeTrackGear.com bike, and Gillim. Local rider Brice Lloyd earned a top ten on his Markbilt Yamaha.

With two rounds left, Rispoli and Dominguez have sizeable points leads in the East and West divisions, so the rivalry can take the forefront.


AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series Recap

The ever-intense AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series saw perhaps its most spectacular shootout of the season at the American Red Cross Devil's Showdown presented by Team ProMotion at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

Seven riders went bar-to-bar for the entirety of the 12-lap affair, which wasn't decided until a dramatic championship-twisting final few corners.

Tyngsboro, Massachusetts native Shane Narbonne proved to be the home-track hero, outdueling the XR Showdown competitors to score his first-career GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing victory in the end.

However, it wasn't cemented until an attempted counterattack on the part of title favorite Kyle Wyman went catastrophically wrong.

Wyman attempted to put himself in position for a run off the race's final corner, but instead was bucked and then hurled off his Harley-Davidson XR1200 as his machine went tumbling off course.

In an instant, the KLR Group/Spyke's H-D/Vesrah Racing rider's hard-earned XR Showdown separation evaporated, effectively resetting the title chase once again.

"That's the worst wreck I've ever had and maybe one of the worst I've ever even seen," Wyman said. "I just can't believe this is the outcome."

Elated race winner Narbonne said, "I didn't even really know what lap it was, I just went to the front. I didn't see the white flag, I just went. It's good to win at my home track -- I've been working hard for this."

Wyman's teammate, Michael Barnes, took maximum advantage of the attention-grabbing crash, stealing three positions at the flag to move into second.

"What a battle," Barnes said. "So much passing going on and I even lost track of the laps for a minute. I dropped back to sixth at the start of the last lap. I caught [Jake] Holden pretty quick and just put my head down. When Kyle wrecked it opened a door. I was in fifth place and had a little more time to assess the situation in front of me. Benny (Carlson) and Tyler (O'Hara) had to jump on their brakes sooner. That gave me the momentum to get past them."

Bartel's Harley-Davidson's Tyler O'Hara was another key benefactor of Wyman's mistake, earning not just a podium result with his third-place finish, but renewed title hopes following his disappointing opening at Indianapolis.

While Suburban Harley-Davidson's Ben Carlson just missed the podium, his fourth-place run elevates him to the top of the XR Showdown standings with 1064 points. He doesn't have much breathing space, however, as Wyman (1062), O'Hara (1061), and Barnes (1060), are all within striking distance with just two races to decide the title.

MOB Racing's versatile Jake Holden finished in fifth, while Harv's Harley-Davidson's Travis Wyman was the last man in the leading pack to take the checkered flag in sixth, just over two seconds off the win.


Next Event

GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing will next head South for Round 11 with a stop at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Triumph Big Kahuna Miami presented by Dunlop Tire and LeoVince will take place September 21-23. For tickets and event information, please visit www.m1powersports.com

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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