HOMESTEAD, Fla. – The remarkable Josh Hayes stormed from more than 15 seconds back to claim his 30th career victory and secure a third-consecutive AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike crown on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Waged in tricky damp-but-drying conditions, Sunday’s GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing race at the M1 PowerSports-promoted Triumph Big Kahuna Miami presented by Dunlop Tire and LeoVince was all about tire selection.
The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha ace outfoxed his opposition even if it didn’t appear that way in the early going. He fell back with the pack in the race’s early stages while a number of other competitors who selected different tire combinations stole the spotlight.
KTM/HMC’s Chris Fillmore was an early leader but also an early fader, holding the lead momentarily before plunging down through the pack. The stays at the front of Team Amsoil/Hero EBR’s Geoff May and National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden were longer lived but just as destined to come to an unhappy end as the track continued to dry.
Saturday winner Hayden fell off the chase by lap 10 of 23, while May found himself swallowed up by Jordan Suzuki’s Ben Bostrom on lap 13.
However, all the while Hayes continued to charge, catching Bostrom and the rest by a clip of two seconds per lap or more. He sailed past the #23 machine on his No. 1 YZF-R1 on lap 15, and, once in the lead, proved simply unstoppable yet again, winning by nearly five seconds.
Sunday’s win served as redemption for yesterday’s uncharacteristic mistake and adds to Hayes’ staggering list of achievements.
His accumulation of 14 victories this season stands as the all-time record, to go with his record of ten consecutive victories that was halted just yesterday, along with his streak of 11 straight pole positions, which tied the previous series’ best (Mat Mladin).
But perhaps the most monumental achievement that Hayes has accomplished this season is the collection of a third AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike title, tying him for second most ever with legends Reg Pridmore, Fred Merkel, Doug Chandler, and Ben Spies.
“It’s been a pretty incredible year.” Hayes said. “Especially after last year, the way things have gone this year… this is the way you’d hope I could push things to. I don’t feel at a loss for motivation or anything; I want to win races. Championships are pretty cool and sometimes when you get a gap like we have it feels somewhat anticlimactic, but I still live for the individual victories. Every single race win feels so good. And if you get those the way that you want to, the championship kind of takes care of itself. Fortunately, I’ve been able to do that and we’re going to continue doing it for as long as we can into the future.”
Technically, Hayes captured the title after completing the first lap as championship rival Blake Young (along with Saturday runner-up Danny Eslick and Aaron Yates) chose not to participate in the drying-track conditions.
Second-place went to Attack Performance’s Steve Rapp on the black #15 Kawasaki ZX-10R. Rapp pulled off a charge similar to that of Hayes, tracking down Bostrom and displacing him for second with two laps remaining. The podium was Rapp’s first of the season.
Despite being dropped from first to third, Bostrom still had plenty of reason to celebrate. His third-place finish, combined with yesterday’s fifth, was good enough for the Californian to be named the weekend’s ‘Big Kahuna’ and take home the coveted custom surfboard.
“It was semi-epic, I’ll be honest,” Bostrom said. “It was like a Supercross track out there with lanes… The first couple of guys were so fast in the first couple of laps I thought it was race over. But my combination of tires was quite friendly in the beginning so I could gain some confidence. And then it became quite unfriendly and I kept my confidence. I got mowed down by Josh and Rapper. There’s not much to say, I mean. It was epic. It was really fun. I’ve never had to slide a front tire like that — probably consistently ten times a lap — and not crash. I think I might have actually learned something and became a better rider for it.”
Hayes’ Monster Energy Graves Yamaha teammate, Josh Herrin, raced his way forward to fourth place in the end, one spot ahead of May who held it together well enough to complete the top five.
Jake Gagne of the RoadRace Factory/Red Bull team won the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race Sunday, a surprise win for the class rookie.
James Rispoli (Celtic Racing/Orient Express) won Sunday’s AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport race, backing up his Saturday victory with his eighth win of the year.
Title contender Kyle Wyman was an unfortunate scratch from Sunday’s AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series contest after suffering a concussion in a Saturday crash. However, he was well-represented on the podium at Homestead-Miami Speedway as his KLR Group/Spyke’s/Vesrah teammate, Michael Barnes, was victorious and his brother, Travis, finished in third.