HOMESTEAD, FL, SEPT 21 – National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden saw the clouds coming and got to it. On his second flying lap, Hayden set the fastest time of Friday’s AMA Superbike qualifying session at Homestead-Miami Speedway, a time that would stand up when rain began to fall less than ten minutes later. At that point it was only a question of whether the track would dry in time, which it wouldn’t, and Hayden had his first provisional Superbike pole.
“Well, the session was cut pretty short due to the weather, but I definitely felt better,” Hayden said. “This afternoon we made some changes to the bike to try to get some more grip and work on getting up to speed pretty quick and today it paid off with the weather that came in. And even though the session was cut short, it’s still kinda nice to be on provisional pole. I’ve never been on provisional pole in Superbike.
“You know, we’ve been pretty quick all weekend. We tested here a few times. So we still have to improve a little bit, because I know those guys are going to go faster, but for right now we’re on pace and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Hayden was second fastest to teammate Ben Bostrom during the AMA test here in March and fifth in Friday morning practice to Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes. Hayes never had a chance to try to knock Hayden back to second once the rain fell at Homestead. Hayes and Hayden were among the riders who tested the wet weather conditions, with Hayden questioning whether the races could be held on a wet track.
“Yeah, I went out at the end, just because if it does rain and (the AMA) decide to ride in the wet, you won’t get that ten minute session, because the end of qualifying would’ve counted,” Hayden said after Friday qualifying. “And, you know, the grip is pretty good. It’s just the track puddles a lot in a lot of spots. Turn 4 probably the worst. With just the little bit of rain that we got it seemed like we had a lot of puddles.”
There are also a few places at Homestead with limited run-off, Hayden said, “and some paint stripes off the back straightaway, off that banking. You know how NASCAR has that rule there’s two wide paint lines which is really slick in the wet. So I wouldn’t think that we would ride here in the wet. But, you know, it’s kind of a bummer, because the track had good grip, it’s just a few other reasons why I don’t think that we could.”
Hayden said on Friday that the prospect of riding in the rain wasn’t discussed in the riders meeting, which is why “we were kinda confused when it started, because we didn’t know, like, do we ride here in the wet? Really, the only thing they said in the riders meeting is we’re going to try to adjust the schedule around the weather and, you know, work together. Stay close to the AMA if we need another rider’s meeting.
“I think it’s going to give us some good guidance now if that comes up now that we’ve had some riders go out, me, Josh (Hayes), Larry (Pegram). And we’ve been around. It’s one of the reasons that I think Josh went out and that’s why when Josh went out I knew I had to go out, because he’s our main competitor and can’t let him get laps in the wet and then try to catch up with him tomorrow if we do race in the rain.”
Hayden lapped the 2.21-mile, 14-turn Homestead circuit in 1:22.746, a time that was faster than Hayes had gone Friday morning.
Bostrom was second fastest to Hayden with Hayes third and Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Young fourth.
Hayes leads Young 478 to 380 and should clinch his third consecutive AMA Superbike title in Saturday’s race.
AMA Superbike Friday qualifying results:
1. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 1:22.746
2. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki) 1:22.857
3. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:23.061
4. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:23.581
5. Danny Eslick (EBR) 1:23.623
6. Chris Ulrich (Suzuki) 1:23.823
7. Geoff May (EBR) 1:24.065
8. Robertino Pietri (Suzuki) 1:24.172
9. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 1:24.191
10. Larry Pegram (BMW) 1:24.563