SBK Race 2 Fontana
It seems hard to believe, but today’s AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike race saw a famous name in motorcycling take his first win in the ultra competitive class.
Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider, Tommy Hayden bounced back from a disappointing Saturday race in the windy conditions and came back after an overnight talk to himself to score his very first American SuperBike win at the Suzuki SuperBike Challenge weekend races at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
Under calm and clear blue skies, the field was missing its’ pole sitter as Aaron Yates suffered an unfortunate fall during Sunday morning’s warm-up session. Yates, who also took pole position at the season opening SuperBike race at Daytona, was examined at the track infield care center and then transported to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center for further examination of what was reported initially by the Jordan Suzuki team to be a right leg injury.
At the start, Saturday’s race winner, Larry Pegram on his Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing Ducati, took the lead with a hard charging Josh Hayes in second on his Team Graves Yamaha, followed by another fast starting John Hopkins on his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki, Hayden and his Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate, Blake Young.
Hayes showed his intentions early as he passed Pegram for the lead on lap two. Hopkins started to fall back as Blake Young and then, a few laps later, National Guard Suzuki rider Jake Zemke got by "Hopper" also. The first three then broke away and then Pegram showed his strength by just plain powering by Hayes on lap five while Hayden ran a patient third around the 21-turn, 2.36-mile speedway road course.
Young ran impressively as he closed on teammate Hayden but the big change happened up front when, completely unexpectedly, Larry Pegram slid down as he ran back onto the front straight banking on the end of lap nine.
He was able to get back up and after a trip to the pits for an inspection, he rejoined the race and completed fifty percent of the distance giving him three valuable points.
Following Pegram’s off, Hayes was leading again with a slight gap to Hayden and Young. Zemke was running a lonely fourth while behind him a fierce battle was being waged by M4 Monster Energy Roadracingworld.com Suzuki rider Chris Ulrich, young Canadian Brett McCormick on the Celtic Racing Suzuki and Ben Bostrom on the Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha.
The three swapped places as fast as you could write it down and it was finally settled with Bostrom finishing sixth, McCormick seventh and Ulrich continuing his solid run of results in 2010 in eighth.
Rounding out the top ten was Taylor Knapp on his RidersDiscount.com Suzuki in ninth and David Anthony on the Aussie Dave Racing Suzuki in tenth. Meanwhile, back up front, it was a three-man race and Hayden started to inch closer to Hayes pulling off a textbook pass at the start-finish line on lap 18 and riding right around Hayes, who could do nothing but watch Hayden put years of trying to rest as he pulled away for a well judged and well deserved first AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike victory.
Blake Young made a run on Hayes but fell just short as he completed a strong one-three finish for Rockstar Makita Suzuki at the Suzuki sponsored event. Hayes took a solid second with Jake Zemke fourth.
In victory lane AMA Pro Racing starter Bobby Lemming awarded Hayden with the checkered flag from the race in honor of his achievement.
"So many people have been asking me if this was going to be the weekend I finally won a race, and I have been asked this so many times it was starting to really get to me!"
Hayden continued, "I have felt good this year, we were close to a couple of wins at Daytona and other than yesterday when I just didn’t run well in the windy conditions, I felt pretty good. Now I can just focus on racing and not worry anymore about when I’m going to win the first race."
"Yesterday I ran up front but I wasn’t sure I belonged up there, today I felt better but I started making a few mistakes at the end, the heat made a difference today and I started feeling it while I was leading."
All in all, another great weekend for National Guard American SuperBike. A popular first time winner in Tommy Hayden and two exciting events run under very different conditions.
Aside from that, everyone felt bad for Aaron Yates and the Jordan team and many people throughout the sport had him in their thoughts as they reflected on the weekends events.
Be sure to check your local listings for SPEED’s coverage of this weekend’s AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike races from Auto Club Speedway. Next on the schedule for AMA Pro Road Racing is Road Atlanta, scheduled to be held April 16-18.