DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Hayes and his No. 4 Yamaha YZF-R1 power into the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio with four consecutive AMA Pro SuperBike victories on his side and a fourth-career premier class title in his sights.
The 39-year-old AMA Pro Road Racing icon has completely righted the ship after a rocky start to his 2014 campaign. And with a 40-point advantage in his pocket, Hayes stands an outside chance of locking down the throne a round early with another stellar weekend.
The Mississippian has taken six previous Mid-Ohio SuperBike race wins - four of which came packaged as double victories. It would have been seven wins and three doubles had he not been assessed a five-second penalty for a start-line infraction last season. Hayes was credited with second place in his most recent outing at the circuit despite taking the checkered flag first by 4.878 seconds.
Should Hayes double again this weekend, his teammate, Cameron Beaubier on the No. 2 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1 and Roger Hayden, pilot of the No. 95 Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing GSX-R1000, would need to score no worse than a 2-4 weekend combination or be eliminated from title contention.
Fourth-ranked David Anthony aboard the No. 25 ADR Motorsports/Sic/Motul Fly Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 could stay in the hunt in the case of a Hayes double with a 2-3, but no other rider is close enough to weather that sort of display of dominance by the Yamaha superstar.
Hayes has been tested in terms of outright pace at times this season - by rookie teammate Beaubier in particular. But the hugely experienced veteran has made the most of his accumulated knowledge in the form of consistent excellence.
After escaping to the win this past Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Hayes was asked why he's been so reliably strong in comparison to his challengers.
"Everybody wants to talk about how old I am," said Hayes. "Years of practice. I've seen some guys come through that are incredibly talented - with a talent level that's hard to touch that I don't have. But I've had to do my schoolwork and I've gone about learning the skills of my trade. The things that I do help me so that my bad days aren't so bad. On my bad days, I'm off a very small amount from my good days. That keeps me steady. I've worked hard at it. I spend a lot of time focused on me and my motorcycle and I go out there and do my work. I'm proud of what I've been able to accomplish."
While they could not slow the Hayes freight train, Beaubier and Hayden were both relieved to have registered strong outings in Monterey, Calif. after suffering through frustrating weekends prior to that at Barber Motorsports Park.
"I think I rode OK," Beaubier said of his pole position/second-place weekend performance. "Overall, I'm pretty happy to get out of here with second place, especially after the weekend I had at Barber, throwing a couple bikes down the road. It's good to get some confidence back heading to Mid-Ohio."
Hayden said the strong result in California bodes well for him and his team this weekend.
"I'm really happy with the podium and how my race went," said Hayden. "My speed was good, even though we struggled at the beginning of the weekend. Now we have some momentum going to Mid-Ohio, so I have to thank the Yoshimura Suzuki crew, they dug deep this weekend and got my bike working well."
While Beaubier and Hayden bounced back after rough weekends in Alabama, it was the opposite story for fifth-ranked Chris Clark on the No. 6 Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing GSX-R1000. Clark earned his first career AMA Pro Road Racing podium at Barber but could do no better than ninth in California.
"Honestly, we struggled a bit all weekend," Clark said. "I just didn't quite have it today but I just tried to put in a solid race and maximize what we did have. Now I'm looking forward to moving on to Mid-Ohio and going forward with our overall strategy, which should suit Mid-Ohio well. I'm looking forward to starting fresh and showing up optimistic next weekend, and hopefully getting a better result."
Clark's points advantage over his Yoshimura teammate, Martin Cardenas aboard the No. 36 Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing GSX-R1000, has been reduced to just eight. The Colombian got off to a strong start in Monterey, storming to the holeshot but was eventually relegated to fourth.
"We did have a little bit of a problem after a while," said Cardenas. "And I was losing a bit of time on every lap. Even so, I tried to do the best I could, but the other guys were just a little faster than I was and I ended up fourth. Now we'll go to Mid-Ohio, where I have had some good results, and see if we can step it up a bit."
Chris Fillmore and his No. 11 KTM/HMC Racing KTM RC8R equaled his season's best result with a fifth place run last weekend. He'll be looking to do even better at Mid-Ohio, where he and the orange bike made such an impressive debut back in 2011, scoring a seventh place result in their first outing.
Cory West on the No. 13 Team AMSOIL Hero EBR 1190RS, Bernat Martinez riding the No. 76 Proto-Tech Spain Yamaha YZF-R1and Trent Gibson aboard the No. 17 Seven Sports Kawasaki ZX-10 complete the championship top ten heading into Ohio. Meanwhile, local favorite Larry Pegram and the No. 72 Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing EBR 1190RS along with former Mid-Ohio AMA Superstock race winner Chris Ulrich on the No. 18 GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing Honda CBR1000RR will be back in action after pulling World Superbike duty at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Top 10 AMA Pro SuperBike results from
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha)
2. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
3. Roger Hayden (Suzuki)
4. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki)
5. Chris Fillmore (KTM)
6. David Anthony (Suzuki)
7. Cory West (EBR)
8. Bernat Martinez (Yamaha)
9. Chris Clark (Suzuki)
10. Sebastiao Ferreira (Kawasaki)
AMA Pro SuperBike Points standings
1. Josh Hayes 175
2. Cameron Beaubier 135
3. Roger Hayden 134
4. David Anthony 131
5. Chris Clark 117
6. Martin Cardenas 108
7. Chris Fillmore 85
8. Cory West 79
9. Bernat Martinez 61
10. Trent Gibson 55
How to Watch
FansChoice.tv is the official home for live streaming coverage of AMA Pro Road Racing and AMA Pro Flat Track events in 2014. The site also provides coverage of IMSA's development and single-make series, and NASCAR's touring and weekly series.