Motorcycle Racing iReport
The best week of my life!
It’s been a busy season but nothing like the crazy week I just had. I raced three different venues in three different states, three different disciplines all in only (seven) days.
I captured a fifth-place finish at the Indy Mile in the AMA Pro Flattrack championship, achieved two new AMA land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats, took a 5th in race one and my first AMA Supersport win in race two at New Jersey Motorsport Park.
Unbelievable is all I can say. The weeks prior were anything but dull. I have been training hard to get into better shape and I have been working with my team and sponsors coordinating these last few rounds of racing. I had to make some significant choices that would cause me to loose my position in the AMA Pro Flattrack Championship but I felt it was important to continue to work on the momentum I created in my road racing program. I chose to miss a double header at the Springfield short track , mile and additional races and instead made my way to NJMP for that road race round.
With Dustin Say my chief flattrack mechanic at my side, we made our way to Indy making a pit stop in Pittsburgh at my sponsor Ant-Racing.com. We dropped off a trailer with two GSX-R600 Supersport bikes that were going to be worked on by my chief road race mechanic Ryan Kelly coming up from Florida to prepare them for NJMP.
Dustin and I continued on to Indy in my race van with our Cycle Dynamics/Vadnais Machine 450’s ready to go. We felt confident a podium was something we could achieve. I qualified in eighth position that Saturday night trying several set ups, gear ratios etc to dial the bike in.
We were feeling really good about what we could do since the difference between first and eighth was only around 3/10ths of a second. In the heat I was nipped at the line and took third but that was still good enough for a front row start. Anywhere on the front row of the mile is a good thing.
In the final I took the lead and was closely followed by Beach. He and I got out to an early lead and started pulling away. The new set up on my bike was really working. By lap 8 I started to loose rear grip and started loosing ground to Beach. Carver and Toon were coming up fast and I duked it out a couple of laps with them before they continued to pull away a little as I continued to slip and drop.
I thought I could secure fourth then but with two to go another rider squeaked by and I ended up 5th overall. This is not what I wanted but it was still an awesome race that I know the fans loved.
The rest of that night was awesome too. The autograph sessions were really busy with lines of people coming around to get a poster and autograph. The place was red hot with a surprise ride by Nicky Hayden on the Lloyd Brothers Ducati with packed stands cheering.
I had a really fun time but I also had work to do to get my butt to Pittsburgh to catch an early Sunday morning flight to Salt Lake City.
Bonneville Salt Flats
Dustin and I left Indy around midnight and traveled straight through and got to the Pittsburgh airport around 6 a.m. Our flight was on time and we made our way to Salt Lake totally exhausted having not slept all night. Once we made it to Salt Lake we still had a two hour drive to the Salt Flats and the hotel.
Charlie from Cycle Dynamics is my Bonneville sponsor too and when we arrived we had to make our way to the salt to register the bike and me, the rider. Once that was out of the way Dustin and I headed to the hotel to crash. The next morning the program was delayed several hours because of a down pour.
We slept in and arrived at the track at around 11 a.m. By the time we got the bike to the course we had to wait around two hours for our first run. The good news was we broke the first record for the ( 750 cc A – AG ) non streamlined class first time out even with slow wet salt. It was still pretty cool and the team was excited. The next day we decided to try and up the new record before changing the bike over to the partial streamline class (750 cc APS- AG).
We tested gearing and more but didn’t significantly go any faster. On the third day we ran the partial streamliner and had a good run to break that record. It was awesome. The team came to Bonneville to capture two old time records and we did it. One record was 41 years old and the other 34 years old.
I can’t thank Charlie Benton of Cycle Dynamics enough for letting me pilot his bikes for a second year. We now have three three records in the books at the Bonneville Salt Flats in two years. An awesome record for sure. I’m hoping next year to get on a real fast bike and break the 200 MPH barrier. They give out a belt buckle for that and I want one real bad.
New Jersey Motorsports Park
So our schedule has been really hectic to this point but it wasn’t over yet. Dustin and I hopped on a plane Thursday morning in Salt Lake just six days after my Indy race and after three days of running at Bonneville and headed to Pittsburgh to pick up the van and headed to New Jersey Motorsports Park for the AMA Pro Superbike round.
My sponsor Ant-Racing was already on his way to the track with Ryan Kelly my chief road race mechanic who both worked on my GSX-R600s while I was out breaking records. When Dustin and I rolled in it was late Thursday night and we bedded down for some needed sleep.
This was the first time for me to see this track so I had a lot to learn and quick. Many of my competitors did track days and the local east coast riders use this as a home track so I was going to be at a disadvantage right out of the box .
On Friday we practiced with some scrubbed in rain tires since Hurricane Earl was suppose to hit this part of the east coast. I ran seventh out of 18 riders that went out. Later for qualifying the track was dry enough to run race tires and I was able to pull a 9th out of 26 riders.
One my second qualifying run I pulled a seventh and ended up overall eighth on the grid, the last person on the second row. I was struggling a bit and Lenny from Race Tech made adjustments to help me get the bike turned better and add some rear grip.
In race one I got a tough start and was like 10th going into turn one. On one lap I passed four riders on the brakes going into turn one. I pushed my way all the way up to fourth and battled for that spot the rest of the race.
The leaders broke away by this time and I was out there pulling with me DeHaven and Puerta. On the last lap I buried it into one grabbing the lead for that fourth place finish and did what I could to hold on. I managed to be in a good position coming onto the straight but knew the two bikes behind me were strong and could draft me if I wasn’t careful.
Unfortunately I couldn’t break the draft and Dehaven caught me at the line for fourth by 0.33. It was a tough deal but I know I rode the wheels off my bike.
After coming in and debriefing with Lenny and the team, we contemplated what we were going to change to do better on Sunday’s race two. We consulted with Michael Tjon. Michael has been building my engines since Road Atlanta and he has helped me get on two podiums this year.
Michael listened to what problems I was having, took some measurements and gave us some new set up numbers to try. These were radically different than what we had in the bike and I was nervous to have them make those moves. I mean I was 13 seconds off the leaders in race one, but I at least knew what the bike could and could not do.
Michael and the teams input was to make the change and experiment now so the team went to work. We also were having some clutch issues on the starting line and we changed that too.
When Sunday warm up came I went out on used tires to see how the new set up was going to react. I was amazed. The bike turned better than it has been and the grip was better as well. I took another 1.2 seconds off my race time from the day before and went from 9th to 3rd in the warm ups.
I came in, talked with Lenny from Race Tech and made a small adjustment to the front end and I felt ready to do battle. In the final race I went from eighth to fifth in the first lap. I was fifth on lap one, fourth by lap two, third by lap four and in second by lap five. I was excited but knew Puerta was strong is a couple of sections and had a strong bike to boot.
I gave up the lead on lap 17 but again buried it into turn one deep and hard on the brakes to make a pass for the lead again on 18. I led on lap 19, the white flag lap and knew I had to lead coming on to the straight otherwise I was done. I railed the bike through the sections especially sections three and four. I created a little gap when I took to the straight away and charged to the flag.
I moved to the outside wall to break the draft and screw up the air a little and it worked. I was able to hang on by 0.71. It was my first win in AMA Pro Supersport and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The huge changes to the bike proved to really help and everything from the engine work and new set up provided by Michael Tjon, the suspension by Lenny of Race Tech and the support of my mechanics Ryan and Dustin were working better than ever.
I can’t thank everybody enough. I was full of emotion for sure and treasured my checkered flag lap even doing a little burnout in front of the cheering fans. It was one of the coolest pro wins of my career. I was emotional about my first AMA Pro Road Racing win.
I was emotional because I dedicated this win to my Mother who passed away a couple of years ago who was a big part of my success and I was emotional because I wanted this so bad.
To all my sponsors, friends and family thank you very much. To Ant-Racing.com my main sponsor and supporter this one’s for you!