LEEDS, Ala. – There are good weekends and then there are Rocco Landers good weekends.
At Barber Motorsports Park, it was a Rocco Landers good weekend with the 15-year-old Oregonian winning four races and walking away with the Liqui Moly Junior Cup Championship with four races left.
Landers earned the Junior Cup title with his 11th win of the season on Sunday, pulling away to an insurmountable lead in the title chase over Kaleb De Keyrel.
Landers also won both Twins Cup races and is on the verge of taking that title as well. The young phenom basically only needs to finish the next race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to also capture that championship.
Landers won the Liqui Moly Junior Cup race Sunday in dominating fashion aboard his Norton Motorsports/Ninja400R/Dr.Farr/WonderCBD Kawasaki. He started from the pole and, after scrapping for the lead, he got out front and eventually built a gap of more than three seconds by the time he took the checkers.
BARTCON Racing Kawasaki’s Dominic Doyle came back from a crash in Saturday’s race to fight for the lead early and finish second, while Quarterley Racing On Track Development Kawasaki rider Ben Gloddy finished third for his second podium finish of the weekend.
“Honestly, after Road America 1, I didn’t expect this to happen,” Landers said. “We didn’t think we would do the full season. We thought we would miss Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Then, all of a sudden, we couldn’t get a COVID test, so we were like, ‘All right, why not go to Atlanta and see what happens?’ After that race, we’ve had a really good year. Lots of wins, lots of lap records. It’s been so fun racing with Dominic and Ben, Sam (Lochoff), and everyone else all year. This is my last year racing small bikes. I’m happy to be able to come out with the championship.”
Landers went a perfect four-for-four on the weekend as he followed up his two victories in Liqui Moly Junior Cup with two victories in the Twin Cup class. As he did with the season championship in Liqui Moly Cup, Landers very nearly wrapped up the Twins Cup title, as well. He is now only one point away from getting his second No. 1 plate.
With Landers winning Sunday’s race two by nearly 6.5 seconds aboard his SportbikeTrackGear.com Roadracingworld.com Suzuki, the rest of the podium was filled by 1-833-CJKNOWS Accident & Injury Law Yamaha’s De Keyrel in second and Hayden Schultz Racing Yamaha’s Hayden Schultz in third. De Keyrel rebounded from a crash on Saturday to finish as runner-up on Sunday, and Schultz recorded his second podium result of the weekend.
Sunday’s Stock 1000 race two was another command performance by Altus Motorsports Suzuki’s Cameron Petersen, who started from the pole and built a big lead until the race was red-flagged by a crash and restarted with a six-lap sprint to the checkers.
In an effort to build another gap, Petersen was at the front again, but a mistake almost put him out of the race. The South African used his knee and elbow to lever the bike off the ground, and he continued on to take the checkers and record his seventh victory of the season with a comfortable gap of nearly five-and-a-half seconds at the finish line.
Second place went to Ride HVMC Racing Kawasaki’s Corey Alexander, who hoped to take the lead when Petersen looked to be down, but the New Yorker settled for the runner-up spot on the podium. Michael Gilbert Racing’s Michael Gilbert rounded out the podium in third place aboard his Kawasaki.
HONOS Kawasaki’s Richie Escalante’s steamroller-like effort continued on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park. In Supersport race two, Escalante mimicked the pattern that he has followed in almost every race this year. Starting from the pole, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Sean Dylan Kelly got a great jump off the line and took the holeshot by wheelying all the way down the front straight. Also, in the mix was Celtic HSBK Racing’s Brandon Paasch.
Escalante put his head down, raced clear of his rivals, built a lead, and took the checkered flag by nearly nine seconds over Kelly, who finished second. Paasch, who was nearly 10 seconds behind Kelly, finished third.
For Escalante, it was his 11th victory of the season.