MILLVILLE, N.J. – And then there were two.
With Cameron Beaubier scheduled for surgery on his dislocated right shoulder this week, there are only two men with a mathematical chance of being crowned this year’s MotoAmerica Superbike champion as the series heads to New Jersey Motorsports Park for the Championship of New Jersey, presented by K&N, Yoshimura Suzuki teammates Toni Elias and Roger Hayden.
But realistically, this championship belongs to Elias. With two rounds, four races and 100 points up for grabs, Elias leads Hayden by 79 points. If Elias wins Motul Superbike race one at NJMP, the title is his even if Hayden finishes second.
A win by Hayden can prolong the inevitable, but the odds are massive that Elias leaves New Jersey with the title. If Elias finishes race one with more than a 75-point lead on Hayden, he’s champion; if he doesn’t take the title in race one but finishes race two with a point lead of more than 50 points, he’s champion.
Although he’s on the brink of winning his first MotoAmerica Superbike title, Elias is careful with his words when discussing the coming weekend and the fact that this is as close to a done deal as you can get.
“Nothing is done until it’s done,” Elias said. “I want to have my feet on the ground and continue to work like this and the next race I want to start thinking about winning more races. That’s my goal and if it can be more early than late, well that’s better. Honestly, every time it’s more close, it’s easier but I don’t want to talk much about it until it happens.”
With his Motul Superbike victory in race two at Pittsburgh International Race Complex two weeks ago and Beaubier’s injury that has taken him out of the equation, Hayden now has a lock on second in the championship.
And that means a one-two finish in the title chase for Yoshimura Suzuki for the first time since Ben Spies and Mat Mladin did the deed in 2008. This will also be Suzuki’s first AMA Superbike title since Mladin won his seventh title in 2009. Since then, Yamaha’s Josh Hayes, Josh Herrin and Cameron Beaubier have run the table on Superbike titles with seven in a row.
Beaubier is relatively safe in third as he is 75 points ahead of his teammate Josh Hayes, the four-time AMA Superbike champion some 21 points ahead of Mathew Scholtz.
Scholtz, meanwhile, is the championship leader in the Bazzaz Superstock 1000 class, the South African holding down a 64-point lead over M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis after taking his seventh win of the season at round eight in Pittsburgh.
Quicksilver Latus Motors Kawasaki’s Bobby Fong is third, a further eight points adrift but still mathematically alive in the title chase.
Although you hate to pick up a ride because another rider is injured, the timing of Beaubier’s injury came at the right moment for Josh Herrin. Herrin will fill in for Beaubier at NJMP and also in the final round at Barber Motorsports Park, Sept. 15-17.
Herrin earned the AMA Superbike Championship in 2013 riding for the factory Yamaha team (with the same Rick Hobbs-led crew that works with Beaubier), a spot that was taken over by Beaubier in 2014 when Herrin went to the Moto2 World Championship.