On a nearly perfect day for racing at Road America, Larry Pegram captured his first AMA Pro Racing National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited victory in 10 years.
The American Superbike race featured an epic, four-bike battle royal at the front with Pegram on the No. 72 Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing Ducati 1098R, Mat Mladin on the No. 7 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000, Blake Young on the No. 79 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 and Geoff May on the No. 54 National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000. The four bikes swapped positions throughout the first three-quarters of the race before the fight for the victory became a mano-a-mano duel between Pegram and Mladin.
As he also did at the standing start in Saturday’s first race of the doubleheader, Pegram got an outstanding start from the second row and claimed the lead. Pegram led the first six laps of the 13 lap race before Mladin first took the lead as he went in search of his 10th victory of the season. The second half of the race featured a seesaw battle in which Pegram would power past Mladin heading into Turn 1 at the end of the long front straightaway, and Mladin would return the favor under braking in Turn 5 on each lap.
As a result, Mladin was scored as the leader from Lap 7 through Lap 11. However, the lead changed hands an amazing four times on Lap 8 alone as the two combatants thrilled the Road America fans with their determination to wrestle the lead from one another at every opportunity.
The battle came to a head on the penultimate lap of the race. Pegram took the lead on the front straight heading into Turn 1, but Mladin reclaimed the position in Turn 3. Pegram finally sealed the deal on the run from Turn 3 to Turn 5 and managed to pull away for a 0.342-second victory.
It was Pegram’s first win since April 19, 1999 at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, Calif., and was the third victory of his AMA Pro Racing career. The other win came in 600 SuperSport competition at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo. On September 6, 1998.
1st – Larry Pegram Speaks…
"It was definitely a great race," said Pegram. "I was expecting that I could run the pace, but I wasn’t expecting to lead like that most of the time. I was real comfortable. When Mat would get in front of me, he wouldn’t really get me anywhere. We were pretty even, but I’d catch him in The Carousel (Turns 9 and 10). When we’d go through there, he would gap me in the left-hander after The Carousel. It was weird. He was really getting through there good. It’s been such a long time. I don’t know if that was as good as the first one or not, but I don’t want to wait 10 years for another one."
For Mladin, who won the opening race of the doubleheader on Saturday, it was just the second time in 11 races this season that he did not stand atop the box. However, it was his 10th podium of the season and he comfortably leads teammate Tommy Hayden (No. 22 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) – who finished seventh today – in the American Superbike championship standings by 110 points, 325-215, with nine races remaining on the season.
2nd – Mat Mladin Speaks…
"Obviously, it was back-and-forth," Mladin said. "In the end, we couldn’t get it done. We rode hard and that’s all we could do today."
Riding the No. 23 Jordan Brand Suzuki GSX-R1000, Aaron Yates caught the lead pack late in the race as his teammate dropped back. Yates came out on top in the fight for the final podium spot with Young, taking third place away in Turn 11 on the final lap. Young fell just after Yates took the spot away, but was not injured in the incident and finished the race in eighth place. It was Yates’ first podium since finishing second in the second race of a doubleheader at Barber Motorsports Park last month.
3rd – Aaron Yates Speaks…
"We had a pretty decent race there," Yates said. "The start didn’t go quite like I was hoping. I left a little late, but I managed to just start to get by folks and just started putting in some good laps. We made some changes last night and this morning, so I was able to go out there and ride like I needed to to go fast. Thanks to the Jordan crew for that.
"I couldn’t do much with ‘ol Blake. His little self on that Yoshimura bike was getting it pretty good down the straightaways. I was making a lot of ground through the (Turns) 5, 6 and 7 area. I had a look under the inside of him coming out of The Carousel. I was on the inside for the next turn on one lap, and I knew he’d just get me on the straightaway. On the final lap, I looked again, but I was a little too late getting in there. I just kind of slipped up under him for that right (Turn 11) and I had to get in there and kind of park it. He wasn’t expecting that, for sure, and I guess he had to get on the brake a little hard or something. It looked like he slid down, and I was able to just ride it hard to the end. It feels good to get us up here on the podium for the Jordan Suzuki."
May made it two Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000s in the top four with a fourth-place performance, for his sixth top-five result of the season. Ben Bostrom finished fifth on the No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1. It was Bostrom’s fifth top five in his past six races and was his sixth top-five run of the season overall.
The next round for American Superbike is scheduled for Sunday, July 5 as part of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.