New Jersey AMA Racing: Friday Report

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2011 AMA Pro Racing

The action-packed AMA Pro Road Racing Championship Weekend presented by Team Pro-Motion kicked off with a bang today at New Jersey Motorsports Park thanks to a slew of exciting provisional qualifying sessions. Taking the top spot in the premier AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike division was Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden, winner of the class’ last two consecutive races.

Tommy Hayden (Rockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R 1000) says: “It was a good session. I just want to have a good weekend and keep a little momentum going and try to go win some races. The championship — that’s a long shot for me. I just want to have fun, ride hard, and try to win some races. I’ve led a lot here and been really close. I would definitely like to get a win here, and I feel like we have the bike and the speed to do it. We’ve won two in a row now, so it would be cool to kind of keep that going and end the year on a high note.”

Just 0.114 of a second behind Hayden was Team Jordan Suzuki’s Ben Bostrom, followed closely by Bostrom’s National Guard Jordan Suzuki teammate, Roger Hayden. Championship contenders Josh Hayes (Monster Energy Graves Yamaha) and Blake Young (Rockstar Makita Suzuki) rounded out the top five today, but with Hayes and Young currently sitting 2-1 overall and separated by just five points, the 62 points up for grabs this weekend mean even single points earned for pole position and most-laps-led could be crucial to taking the crown.

In the always-intense AMA Pro Daytona SportBike class, championship leader Danny Eslick got the final round started right by taking the provisional pole.

Danny Eslick (GEICO RMR Suzuki GSX-R 600) says: “The GEICO RMR Suzuki number 69 is working really good right now. Everybody is all worked up on the championship thing, but we want to go do what we do: try to go as fast as we can every session and win races. If we do that, the rest should fall into place. I think I’m sitting in a pretty good seat right now. The big picture is always there and we’ve had plenty of time to think about it in between Laguna and now. It’s a lot easier being 45 points in the lead than 45 points back.”

Slotting in just behind Eslick on the time sheets was Daytona SportBike rookie Cameron Beaubier (JHR/RidersDiscount.com Yamaha), while Eslick’s closest championship rivals, Josh Herrin (Monster Energy Graves Yamaha) and Jason DiSalvo (Team Latus Motors Racing), ended the day in fourth and tenth, respectively. This weekend, DiSalvo will compete for the first time on the new Triumph Daytona 675R he’ll contend in 2012.

In the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport class, a new name — one that seems destined to become very familiar to U.S. road race fans in short order — topped the charts. Newly minted 16-year-old Garrett Gerloff made his pro debut in fine style by posting the quickest time of the session on his Graves Monster Energy Yamaha. Though Gerloff, who currently leads two classes in the WERA series, signed with the Graves team earlier this season, this weekend’s AMA Pro round marks the first professional race for which he’s old enough to compete.

Garrett Gerloff (Graves Monster Energy Yamaha YZF-R6) says: “This morning was my first time on the track and the first time on these tires, too, but everything was going good. I got used to the tires fast and the bike was awesome. I have a great team behind me and they’re doing a great job helping me with the bike and making sure it’s set up right.”