AMA Superbike Report
Jake Zemke took a hard-earned victory aboard his No. 54 National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the opening round of AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike competition during the Daytona 200 Week at Daytona International Speedway. Zemke led six of the race's 15 laps in the afternoon race around the 2.90-mile short course at the famed circuit.
After a thrilling AMA Pro Racing SuperSport race, the AMA Pro American SuperBike field lined up under sunny skies and the warmest temperatures of the event so far. The exciting qualifying session saw Aaron Yates take pole position for the doubleheader races on his No. 23 Michael Jordan Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R1000, followed by practice pacesetter Larry Pegram with his No. 72 Foremost Insurance Ducati 1098R and Rockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000 teammates No. 22 Tommy Hayden and No. 79 Blake Young completing the front row.
Josh Hayes and his No. 4 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R1 and eventual day one race winner Zemke were next up alongside Ben Bostrom's No. 155 Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha YZF-R1 and an impressive Chris Ulrich on his No. 18 RoadRacingWorld.com Suzuki GSX-R1000.
At the start, Young shot into the lead as Yates slipped to fourth. Ulrich jumped up to sixth, while unfortunately his teammate John Hopkins suffered a mechanical problem on his No. 21 Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki GSX-R1000 and was unable to finish the race. Hayes also had a tough day, dropping back at the start, never able to mount a charge back to front. Young and Hayden ran one-two for a few laps as Pegram battled with Yates and a hard-charging Zemke. The first five broke away and made the race their own all the way to the finish.
Zemke took the lead with a huge drafting move on lap seven and led Hayden, Pegram, Young and Yates, all within inches of each other, around the high eastern banking. Pegram and Hayden went by Zemke on lap 11 with Young and Yates holding station. Hayden had a near slide in the infield, later saying that it really didn't hurt his chances at that particular point on the racetrack. With two laps to go, there was a massive reshuffling as Hayden took the lead and was closely followed by Zemke, Pegram, Yates and Young.
Hayden finished second and Pegram closed out the podium with third. Yates and Young took fourth and fifth, respectively, to complete the top five. Pegram, Yates and Young all turned their fastest laps on the final lap of the race.
After diving into the lead in turn one on the last lap, Zemke was able to break free and build a small gap and as the other riders hit the banking for the final time. Hayden, Pegram and Yates raced each other hard and allowed Zemke to pull away for a magnificent win, his margin of victory a mere 0.238 of a second. An emotional National Guard Jordan Suzuki team celebrated after a sensational start to the season.
Under the watchful eye of team owner Michael Jordan, it was a perfect start to the 2010 season for the new rider combination. Collecting his trophy from sponsor Sgt. First Class John Metzler in Victory Lane, Zemke paid tribute to the men and women serving our country in the National Guard and all of our armed forces all over the world and was also full of praise for his new team.
The final AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike race of the Daytona 200 week goes green tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. local time and both races can be seen in their entirety this Saturday beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET on SPEED.