DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 28, 2012) - The AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport action at the Triumph Big Kahuna Miami at Miami-Homestead Speedway was highlighted by a familiar name: James Rispoli. The reigning champ and West division title contender doubled, winning both races in an East event.
The Celtic Racing/Orient Express Racing pilot has been on the cusp of winning the West division since the last round back at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. He leads by 60 points, with only the bonus points keeping Hayden Gillim (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull) alive in the fight.
Rispoli had a tough battle with Stefano Mesa (Kneedraggers.com Yamaha) on Saturday, with Mesa racing the climax of the event without a face shield. It didn't slow him down much the last seven laps. Mesa made a couple of moves for the lead but Rispoli quickly responded and was able to pull out a gap of 0.564 on the final lap.
"It was really slick and me and Stefano did a good job of sliding around and making it look fun," Rispoli said. "In the middle of the race, he came rippin' by and I was like, 'OK, it's time to go.' I got back in tow, reeled him in a little bit, and found some parts where I was a little bit faster. I made my move a couple laps later."
On Sunday, Rispoli was able to pull away from the field to win a race that was red flagged after ten laps due to a fallen rider and called complete as weather rolled in.
"It felt good to get a race where I could get a lead. It was a 'dirt-tracker's delight.' I don't think the handlebars were straight the whole time," said Rispoli.
If Rispoli was the star, then the supporting cast was led by Mesa and Tomas Puerta of RoadRace Factory/Red Bull Yamaha. For the South American racers, Miami is as close as it gets to an AMA Pro "home" race and like Mesa, Puerta was able to make an impression.
Mesa's ride on Saturday was impressive without factoring in that he was "in the wind" much of the time. "I looked backward," said Mesa, "... and one side of my visor came off. Air was going into my eyes and I couldn't see anything so I decided to break it. I could hang with Rispoli and I tried to make a move a couple of laps later but I couldn't do it."
The Colombian Puerta took third and second to earn some more podium results for his season. On Saturday, he barely beat Jake Lewis (Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki) to the line. On Sunday, he had "It felt good to be back on the podium again. I had some issues with the front so I finished second. I'm looking forward to the next one."
Dustin Dominguez had a mixed weekend. He didn't finish on Saturday and lost championship points to Lewis, but on Saturday he came back to finish second on his Latus Motors Racing Triumph. "I think I got the fastest lap of the race. It was good because I want to win this championship for Triumph." Dominguez now leads Lewis by eight points with only the New Orleans doubleheader to go.
Lewis earned fourth and sixth to gain 12 points on Dominguez.
Hayden Gillim was fifth and sixth. The Utah winner wasn't able to find the speed to run near the front but brought home two solid finishes in Florida.
Corey Alexander (National Guard Fairhills Group Celtic Racing) joined teammate Rispoli in the top five on Saturday and was 8th on Sunday.
Y.E.S/Graves/Yamaha's Garrett Gerloff was seventh and ninth as he continues to come back from his Daytona injuries.
Travis Wyman (Harv's H-D), Elena Myers (Suzuki SportbikeTrackGear.com), Colter Dimmick (AcesMotorcycles.com) and local rider Charlie Long (CLR Racing) all finished in the top ten at Homestead.
With just two races to go in New Orleans, the combined East/West round will determine the 2012 champions.
Sunoco "Go the Distance" Award Update:
1. Corey Alexander - 2115.2 mi
2. Stefano Mesa - 2054.3 mi
3. Jake Lewis - 2049.3 mi
The AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series delivered yet another barnburner -- or perhaps better put, 'Barney burner' -- at Homestead-Miami Speedway as hometown ace Michael Barnes emerged victorious at the conclusion of a race-long multi-rider brawl.
The weekend was pivotal in terms of the developing XR Showdown for a couple of reasons.
The thrilling victory of KLR Group/Spyke's H-D/Vesah Racing's Barnes over Bartel's Harley-Davidson's Tyler O'Hara has elevated the Boca Rotan resident to a scant two-point advantage lead in the Showdown over Californian O'Hara with just the New Orleans finale to decide the championship.
Secondly, it marked the end of the title bid of season-long standout Kyle Wyman. Barnes' teammate, Wyman, suffered a second concussion in the last couple of weeks, the first coming with his huge crash on the final lap at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and the most recent during a Friday session.
Wyman will sit out the season finale as a result. The unfortunate turn marks a huge turnaround from the doubleheader XR Showdown opener at Indianapolis, where Wyman grabbed a big lead early with his 1-2 weekend as Barnes and O'Hara struggled by comparison.
Besides Barnes' awesome effort to put out the last-lap win over polesitter and laps leader O'Hara, Wyman's brother, Travis, stepped up his game to put himself in the mix in Kyle's absence.
The Harv's Harley-Davidson entry led at one point and ultimately finished a close third to collect his first podium result of the season.
"It's been a real emotional rollercoaster weekend with Kyle getting hurt yesterday," Barnes said. "It affected the whole team but it made us dig that much deeper, and I know Travis was digging deeper for his brother out there too. He was riding hard. It was hard to out-brake him, but I needed to get by Travis in order to get by Tyler. I dug deep for that one."
Suburban Harley-Davidson's Benny Carlson finished with the lead group fourth and remains very much alive in the Showdown hunt. He entered the Triumph Big Kahuna Miami presented by Dunlop Tire and LeoVince leading the points and leaves displaced to third, albeit just eight points removed from the lead.
With no other rider within 25 points of the XR Showdown lead, it looks like New Orleans will be a three-rider affair for the title -- although if the season leading up to the finale is any indication, the race for the win could be waged by several others as well.
Sunoco "Go the Distance" Award Update:
1. Josh Chisum - 1278.64 mi.
2. David Estock - 1248.98 mi.
3. Michael Corbino - 1200.04 mi.
GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing will finish the 2012 season at NOLA Motorsports Park with the Triumph Big Kahuna New Orleans presented by Dunlop Tire and LeoVince, scheduled to take place October 5-7. For tickets and event information, please visit www.m1powersports.com.