MILLVILLE, NJ, SEPT 9 – Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes sets a new record almost every time he gets on the racetrack. Today’s record was impressive. On a sunny Sunday afternoon at New Jersey Motorsports Park in South Jersey, Hayes won his 13th AMA Superbike race of the season, breaking a tie he’d held with Yoshimura Suzuki’s Mat Mladin for one day. And it was Hayes’ ninth win in a row, another new record. And it more or less put the championship out of reach of Blake Young, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider who finished a downfield fourth after a slow start. For Hayes it means that if he gets the pole at Homestead—he’s had every one this season—he needs to finish only 16th or better in the first race to clinch the title. Hayes was asked if that was doable?
“I hope so,” he said with a laugh before turning serious.” It would, you know, it’s not a huge weight on my mind, but it’s there. You know, to have it all said and done would be fantastic and then you can really just kinda let it all out, OK. You know what, that’s not even, it doesn’t even have to be a hint. Even now, I’m thinking, man, if I messed up and got hurt, broke my leg and I had to ride the last couple of races, you know what I mean? It would be terrible if I lost it that way.
“But if we can go there… you know, I’m going to go there I’m going to treat it just like I did here. I’m going to try to be fast in every session. I’m going to continually work on having the pace to be at the front and run at the front and continue working on some of our weak points. One of the things that I fixed in the last couple of races is last year we got some iffy starts that ended up putting me at a deficit right from the beginning. We’ve worked really hard on that and we definitely improved our starts. I’ve been first into Turn 1 quite a few times. Even, Josh (Herrin) was kicking my butt the first half of the season on starts and we’ve turned that around a little bit. We’ll continue working on those things, and hopefully, yeah, we’ll be able to wrap it up when we get to Miami and just kind of enjoy racing our butts off the rest of the season.”
Hayes won Sunday’s AMA Superbike race by “only” 8.641 seconds after having won on Saturday at New Jersey by more than 22. There wasn’t the same urgency he said and he was happy to get to a certain pace and maintain it. There was an early effort by teammate Josh Herrin to keep him honest, but it only lasted a few laps. Then he was on his own.
“Yeah, I, you know, what can I say? I had a great weekend,” he said. “Things have gone well right from the start, fortunately like I’ve said every time I’ve come in here. This is my fourth year at this racetrack and the bike improves every year and it makes my life and my job a little bit easier every time we show up.
“We just had good pace. It was cool to see a plus-zero for two laps there on the board knowing people were hanging on and to be able to just kinda stretch away and open it up like that, just having pace on people. That’s what racing’s all about. I like it and I was working really hard and having a lot of fun. Once the gap opened up a good bit I didn’t quite have the same fire as yesterday to just keep digging deep. I kinda got to where I settled in and said, ‘OK. I started doing 22.1, something like that pretty steady and the gap wasn’t changing on my board.’ And I said, ‘OK, I feel like I can do this until the sun goes down.’ From that point it seemed like things went by pretty quickly.”
Herrin had run off the track on Saturday before making a recovery. He’d had a rough weekend at New Jersey, falling hard in Friday practice and not qualifying well. Today was his best day.
He got away well in Sunday’s AMA Superbike race and quickly had company from Team Amsoil Hero’s Geoff May. May hung in as long as he could before dropping off the pace.
Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's...
Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Herrin finished second on Sunday at New Jersey.
“Yesterday was horrible,” Herrin said. “It was good charging through, but it was nice to get a good start and already be up there today and not have to work twice as hard to get there. But it was definitely hard. Whoever was right there behind me, I think Geoff (May) at the beginning of the race, he kept me on my toes for sure. I was trying to make the least amount of mistakes that I could and Josh (Hayes) had already gotten a little bit of a gap, so I was trying to put a little gap on them so that I had a didn’t have to, you know, keep riding super-hard just to keep them from passing me.”
No one came close to passing him in Sunday's AMA Superbike race at New Jersey. The closest rider at the finish was National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Lee Hayden and he wasn’t very close. Hayden would finish on the podium, which he felt was a gift. It came because Young got together with May in the first turn at New Jersey, sending May to the ground and Young back several places on the 17th lap. Young would recover to finish fourth by passing Jordan Suzuki’s Ben Bostrom on the final lap. But it was Hayden who was the first Suzuki in third, his career best sixth AMA Superbike podium of the year.
Jordan Suzuki/National Guard's...
Jordan Suzuki/National Guard's Roger Lee Hayden finished out the podium at New Jersey Motorsports Park in third.
“My start wasn’t that good; it was better than yesterday’s but still not great,” Hayden said of his AMA Superbike weekend at New Jersey. “And, I don’t know, I fell back to eighth or something and just worked my way up through the pack and got going pretty good and I was reeling in Josh (Herrin) and Geoff (May) and Blake (Young) and then I started going even faster, like 22.0’s and it seemed like I wasn’t catching Herrin, but the other two were still coming back to me a little bit. And then those two guys took each other out or I don’t know what happened. They crashed.
“So podium was maybe a gift today, but we pretty much struggled all weekend being consistent. I think Friday I showed up a little bit rusty and changed the bike a lot, which we probably shouldn’t have done until we got up to speed, because in yesterday’s race I hated it. You know, I haven’t touched the bike at all since Barber I think. At the NOLA test we were pretty quick. The next few races we were fast and never touched a thing. Friday I probably steered us down the wrong way by trying to change a bunch of stuff. But all in all, you know, I’m happy with the podium, I guess, and my pace was a lot better than yesterday. But we still have to improve the gap to the two Joshes.”
Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Young...
Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Young had an off weekend that most likely torpedoed his championship hopes.
Young admitted starting slowly had torpedoed his AMA superbike race, denying him much of a shot at even a podium at New Jersey. Then came the incident with May.
“I got a pretty good run on Geoff (May) and when I went by Geoff…with some speed and thought I was clear of him, cleared him and held my line and looked, and. you know, came over was into Turn 1 a little bit hot, getting his draft, so braked a little bit early, but not too much early, but just wanted to make sure I got it slowed down,” Young said. “He ended up getting into the back of me. I don’t know, maybe next time give him a little bit more room, but it wasn’t anything intentional. He came over. I don’t really feel at fault or anything for nothing. Like I said, didn’t do it on purpose. Wrecked my race, wrecked his race, so both of us were going really, really good.”
Said May about the New Jersey turn one AMA Superbike encounter, “He was only halfway past me, because he’s got rubber all the way up to his footpeg and I’ve got rubber all the way back to my footpeg on the fairing. So he thought he was by, but I don’t think he realized, because he caught me on the straightaway so quick, he didn’t realize how deep I was going into one. And instead of him just holding that line he was on, he sawed across the bow. He would’ve been fine if he’d have just held his line. There would’ve been no incident. He would’ve made the pass. All would’ve been good.”
Bostrom recovered from an incident with Herrin on the first lap that sent him off the track and to the back of the pack to finish fifth. He’d been second on Saturday.
AMA Superbike New Jersey Sunday race results:
1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha)
2. Josh Herrin (Yamaha)
3. Roger Hayden (Suzuki)
4. Blake Young (Suzuki)
5. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki)
6. Steve Rapp (Kawasaki)
7. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki)
8. Danny Eslick (EBR)
9. Larry Pegram (BMW)
10. Chris Fillmore (KTM)