AMA Pro Racing: Road America Preview
After a three-week break, AMA Pro Racing throttles into Road America this weekend (June 4-6) for Round 5, with the following riders leading in their respective series: Jordan Suzuki’s Jake Zemke in American Superbike, GEICO Powersports Suzuki’s Danny Eslick in Daytona Sportbike, and Rockwall Yamaha’s Cameron Beaubier in Supesport.
The 4.048-mile track containing 14 turns in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, will challenge all riders in each series, keeping the points race tight. But there’s more – the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series is set to debut at the Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader, which is a new spec-bike, five-race series featuring specially modified Harley-Davidson XR1200 motorcycles.
Only eight points separate the top three riders, helping to create some of the closest racing in AMA Superbike history. Riding the No. 54 National Guard Suzuki owned by Michael Jordan, Zemke leads the AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike Series with 178 points due to his impressive double at Daytona, followed by a run of top-four finishes and then sixth place, which was his worse this season.
The 2008 Formula Xtreme Champion and 2006 Daytona 200 winner struggled with suspension setups on his GSX-R1000 at Round 4 in Infineon, but has some extra incentive going into Road America: the track is located just a few miles from the Jordan Suzuki facilities, making this a home race for the team.
The San Francisco native’s teammate Aaron Yates continues to heal from his horrific accident at Auto Club Speedway, and nothing has been officially released about when the Georgian will return to racing. The rider of the No. 23 broke his leg during a practice session at Auto Club Speedway during Round 2. The 18-year-old Canadian Superbike rider Brett McCormick is riding for Yates. McCormick had a tough first weekend with Jordan Suzuki at Road Atlanta, crashing out of race 1 and experiencing a mechanical issue at race 2, and had to settle for 21-13 at Infineon.
Sitting second in the championship is Rockstar Makita Suzuki rider Tommy Hayden, only four points separating the Kentuckian from Zemke. He followed Zemke to the checkered flag at Daytona during both races, and took the first Superbike win of his career at Auto Club Speedway.
Last year’s championship runner-up Josh Hayes sits in third place, four points separating him and Hayden. The Team Graves Yamaha rider of Mississippi had a rough start at Daytona (13-6), but progressively had better results, including his double win at Infineon. During both Infineon races, Hayes held a large gap over second and third-place finishers in both races, Foremost Insurance Ducati rider Larry Pegram and Pat Clarks Motorsports Yamaha YZF-R1 rider Ben Bostrom.
In fourth with 162 points is Hayden’s teammate Blake Young. Just like Hayden, Young scored his first SBK victory this season after doubling at Round 3 in Road Atlanta. His luck wasn’t the same as Hayden at Infineon, though, as Young scored double fifth-place finishes. But because he’s from Madison, Wis., this is also a hometown race for him, so he’s sure to have a hometown crowd cheering for him.
Rounding out the top five in the championship is Pegram, who has a win at Auto Club Speedway, and three third-place finishes, including his back-to-back thirds at Infineon. But Pegram also has luck at Road America, considering last year the owner/racer of the Ducati 1198R took his first American Superbike victory there in 10 years. This victory also was a first for Ducati since returning to the class after a three-year absence.
American Superbike Point Standings (after 4 of 10 rounds)
1. Jake Zemke 178
2. Tommy Hayden 174
3. Josh Hayes 170
4. Blake Young 162
5. Larry Pegram 134
6. Ben Bostrom 120
7. Chris Ulrich 102
8. Taylor Knapp 94
9. Chris Clark 64
10. John Hopkins 62
11. Aaron Yates 59
12. David Anthony 56
13. Brett McCormick 45
14. Shane Narbonne 39
15. Johnny Rock Page 38
It took a while for Eslick to garner some dominating speed on his GSX-R600, but the reigning Daytona Sportbike champion did just that last meeting at Infineon, taking Race 2. The win, combined with three second places, one third and two fourth places, puts him in the championship lead with 168 points. Last year the Oklahoma native scored a 6-5 at Road America, not his best race by far during his championship season.
Another rider that didn’t do well at last year’s Wisconsin race was Josh Herrin (13-13), but the Team Graves Yamaha rider coming off a second-place victory at Infineon. The Daytona 200 winner of California trails Eslick by 10 points in the championship, and also has a win on his R6 at Auto Club Speedway.
In third with 133 points is the Columbian Martin Cardenas, who has four wins on his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki, including Race 1 at Infineon. He has luck at Road America, considering he won Race 2 there last year, and took third in Race 1.
With three podiums and two fourth-place finishes, Project 1 Atlanta rider Dane Westby sits in fourth in the championship race with 129 points, just four behind Cardenas. Seven top-ten finishes, including two podiums, places Vesrah Suzuki rider Cory West in fifth place, only 10 points behind Westby.
American Superbike rider Josh Hayes’ wife, Melissa Paris, had her best finish at Infineon with 15th. The MPH Racing Inc. Yamaha rider is looking for some momentum this season, and just competed as a wildcard in the World Supersport round in Utah, where she retired after 12 laps.
Daytona Sportbike Standings
1. Danny Eslick 168
2. Josh Herrin 158
3. Martin Cardenas 133
4. Dane Westby 129
5. Cory West 119
6. Steve Rapp 104
7. Tommy Aquino 103
8. Chris Fillmore 80
9. Clinton Seller 65
10. Bobby Fong 62
11. Fernando Amantini 39
12. Tyler Odom 36
13. Lenny Hale 36
14. Geoff May 35
15. P. J. Jacobsen 33
Supersport (According to an AMA Press Release)
After the historic accomplishment of Elena Myers winning her first AMA Pro Road Racing SuperSport race at the last round at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, the ultra competitive AMA Pro SuperSport class picks right up where it left off this weekend at Road America Myers will once again be joined by the exciting group of young riders that have been providing action packed races since the very first race of the season at Daytona International Speedway, where the first race was won by the margin of 0.0001 of a second.
The winner of that incredible race, Cameron Beaubier, also took a well deserved win at the second of the two races at Infineon Raceway and is poised to really make his mark on the SuperSport series at Road America. Beaubier has a ten point lead in the Young Gun East Division standings over his Rockwall Yamaha teammate, J.D. Beach, who rejoins the action at Road America. J.D. has two wins in SuperSport, both at Road Atlanta earlier this year, and also won last weekend’s AMA Pro Flat Track Singles division final in the Springfield T.T.
Elena Myers rode her Lucas Oil Roadracingworld.com Suzuki right into the history books at Infineon Raceway by taking the first AMA Pro Road Racing victory for a female with her popular victory in the first of two weekend races. On Sunday, Myers again featured strongly in the race and even after a coming together with another rider, she fought back to finish fifth. Week in and week out, Myers is right on the pace and she is currently second in the Young Gun West Division points behind the runaway points leader, Joey Pascarella.
After his second place finish at Daytona, Pascarella went on a bit of a terror and ran off three wins in a row, all from pole position and he looked like he would extend his run at Road Atlanta when misfortune struck and Pascarella fell on the warm-up lap as a result of some dropped fluid on the track. Pascarella ended up missing both races. As he was racing out of his division, he didn’t lose any points but it did give his competitors an opening to stamp their own mark on the SuperSport class.
Beach and Beaubier did just that and then when Pascarella suffered two falls at Infineon, Myers and Beaubier were more than happy to take their own well-deserved race wins. In the time between Road Atlanta and the last race, Pascarella had moved from his LTD Yamaha team over to the DNA Energy Drink CNR Motorsports Ducati team and in all fairness to Pascarella, he hadn’t had a lot of time working with his new team and motorcycle. Road America features long straight-aways and as much as the last race emphasized nimble handling, power and handling are paramount at the four mile natural terrain road course through the Kettle Moraine countryside.
Another rider who is right in the middle of the mix is Huntley Nash on his LTD Yamaha. Nash is racing in all of the SuperSport races and he chalked up another podium finish in the second race at Infineon to accompany his bevy of top three results this year, in and out of his Divisional races. Nash’s LTD Racing Yamaha teammate Tomas Puerta has quietly put together a vey impressive season as well. If not for all the fireworks at the front of the packs, Puerta might be the story of the season. His consistency is impressive and he has fought for every position in every race he has run.
Ryan Kerr has been a regular competitor on his MJ Racing Kawasaki and he looks to add to his fifth place points total in the East Division. Kerr sits only two points ahead of Daniel Guevara on his Roadracingworld.com Suzuki who is looking to get his season back on track after dealing with a recurring injury that has cost him momentum this year.
AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series (According to an AMA Press Release)
The AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series is set to debut at this weekend’s Suzuki SuperBike Doubleheader, and Harley-Davidson will be posting a recently-announced contingency program for competitors that will add $5,000 a weekend to the existing race purse.
In addition to the announced $5,000 prize money, Harley-Davidson will also contribute $5,000 to the top ten finishers in each race: $1,250 for the win; $1,000 for second; $750 for third; $500 for fourth and $250 for fifth through tenth places.
The purse for each race of the five-race series now totals $10,000 and pays down to tenth position. $3,750 will go to the winner of each race, $2,000 to second place, $1,500 to third place, $1,000 to fourth, $500 to fifth and $250 to sixth through tenth places.
Steve Piehl, Harley’s Director of Customer Experience, says "We’re excited to support this grassroots racing class with a contingency program that rewards racers deep into the field. Our contingency fund doubles the generous purse previously announced by Vance & Hines and AMA Pro Racing and should provide an extra incentive to racers considering competing in this series."
The AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series is a spec-bike five-race series featuring specially modified Harley-Davidson XR1200 motorcycles. Vance & Hines is the title sponsor and official kit supplier for the class. The special kits consist of a Vance & Hines XR1200 exhaust system, a Fuelpak fuel management system, race bodywork including number plate, single-seat tail section and belly pan, 17- inch front wheel with matching front fender, steering damper, oil cooler relocator and race decal package. The cost for the complete kit, which does not include the price of the motorcycle, is $3,500.00.
As in all AMA Pro Road Racing divisions, Dunlop will provide the spec tire for the class and Sunoco will fuel the racers with their Sunoco 260 GTX fuel. In addition to the Vance & Hines supplied kit parts, teams will be able to upgrade their suspension, hand and foot controls, brake components and instrumentation.
This exciting new series will provide loyal Harley-Davidson owners, dealers and enthusiasts a chance to join the action at selected AMA Pro Road Racing weekends throughout the country. In addition to the inaugural race at Road America, which is just north of Harley-Davidson’s Milwaukee, Wisconsin headquarters, the series will visit Mid-Ohio (July 16-18), Virginia International Raceway (August 13-15), New Jersey Motorsports Park (September 3-5) and conclude at Barber Motorsports Park (September 24-26).
AMA Pro Racing TV Coverage
SPEED TV will air Race 1 of the American Superbike series at 10 p.m. Saturday, June 5, followed by Race 1 of Daytona Sportbike and Supersport highlights at 11 p.m. These programs will be repeated on SPEED TV at 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 6.
Race 2 of Daytona Sportbike and Supersport highlights will air on SPEED TV at 11 p.m. Sunday, June 6, followed at midnight by Race 2 of American Superbike.
Teaser Photo of Eslick by Brian Paino of Twisted Photography (918-852-8565)