2013 AMA Pro Road Racing
The 2013 AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike title fight is fast approaching its most crucial event yet as two of the season’s final three races will be contested in this weekend’s New Jersey Lottery Devil’s Showdown at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Certainly, the upcoming GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing round in Millville, N.J. is among the most critical ever faced by a trio of championship contenders who are separated by just 13 points at the top of the standings.
Fresh from an outstanding weekend at Miller Motorsports Park, Josh Herrin (No. 2 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1) is now in the driver’s seat with 264 points. Herrin has been a perennial front-runner and title contender since he first burst onto the professional scene in 2006 as a hotshot 16-year-old, but he’s still searching for his first-career GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing championship triumph.
Herrin has been growing in strength and confidence as the ’13 campaign has developed; he boasts three race wins on the season and none were sweeter than his MMP win at the most recent round when he finally beat teammate Josh Hayes (No. 1 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha YZF-R1) straight-up for the first time.
Herrin expects to continue his spectacular form as he has a history of success at New Jersey Motorsports Park. He doubled at NJMP in the GoPro Daytona SportBike class the first time the series visited the circuit in 2009 and added another win in 2011. Additionally, Herrin took a runner-up result in New Jersey last year as a class rookie.
Herrin wasn’t the only man to take a win and solidify his championship prospects in Utah. Colombian Martin Cardenas (No. 36 Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000) won Sunday’s race at Miller Motorsports Park and moved into second in the standings, now trailing Herrin by just nine points.
Cardenas’ second win of ’13 couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, as he capitalized on the Yamaha duo’s Sunday struggles and is poised to strike. Unlike Herrin, Cardenas has already shown the ability to close out the year with a championship victory, having twice earned the GoPro Daytona SportBike title, including one in similarly nail-biting fashion. Cardenas has a fine track record at NJMP as well, having earned a pair of Daytona SportBike wins in previous trips to the circuit.
While Herrin and Cardenas stand 1-2 in the championship order, no one is ready to count out triple champ Hayes. In fact, the Mississippian arguably ranks as the championship favorite despite his third-place placement and 16-point championship deficit.
While Hayes has not replicated his steamrolling title tour of ’12, he’s still repeatedly proven to be the class of the field on-track. He has taken six wins already this season and if not for a pair of mechanicals, a start-line penalty, and an uncharacteristic crashed suffered while leading last time out, Hayes might already own double digit wins this year and have an unprecedented fourth consecutive AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike crown in the bag.
But those misfortunes and mishaps did occur, so Hayes is now forced to dig deep and come up in the clutch yet again if he’s to extend his premier class dominance.
The reigning champ still controls his own destiny; if he closes out the season in perfect fashion, he’ll retain his title no matter what Herrin or Cardenas manage in response. While a relatively tall order, it’s certainly not beyond the capabilities of Hayes, who registered perfect points haul weekends the last time he visited both New Jersey Motorsports Park and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – the scene of the 2013 season finale later this month.
And while Herrin and Cardenas have excelled at NJMP in the past, Hayes has been borderline unstoppable in New Jersey. In addition to last year’s weekend sweep, he out-dueled Blake Young at New Jersey in the 2012 season finale to come from behind and win the title, and doubled New Jersey Motorsports Park in both 2010 and 2009 (when he overcame a motivated Mat Mladin in the legend’s swansong weekend).
While not yet mathematically eliminated, the title hopes of Roger Hayden (No. 54 National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) are slim… to put it mildly. However, that doesn’t mean the Kentuckian won’t have a part yet to play in this year’s title fight.
Hayden’s points tally is not fully indicative of his overall form this season. While he’s dealt with regular disappointment for one reason or another, his speed has been consistently impressive. Nearly the equal of Hayes in terms of outright pace, Hayden could be a spoiler and steal points away from the title hopefuls in the season’s final three races, magnifying relative victories and defeats.
The ever-popular Hayden has fared well at NJMP himself, registering a pair of SuperBike podiums in previous visits.
His teammate, Danny Eslick (No. 23 Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000), is just three points back of Hayden for fourth in the standings (185 vs. 182). Eslick has firmly established himself as ‘the next guy,’ scoring five straight top-five results coming into NJMP. The Oklahoman’s goal now will be to bridge the gap and race alongside the podium contenders before the season concludes.
Larry Pegram (No. 72 Pegram Racing Yamaha YZF-R1) is next on the order but suffering through a difficult season’s second-half after raising expectations with an outstanding start to 2013. The multi-time SuperBike race winner signaled his return to competitiveness with a pair of podium finishes at the Daytona opener. However, he enters New Jersey Motorsports Park seeking his first top-five result in six races.
Chris Fillmore (No. 11 KTM/HMC Racing KTM RC8R) and Geoff May (No. 99 Team Hero EBR 1190RS) have frequently battled with each other on track this season and now find themselves fighting for championship position. Fillmore leads May for seventh but only just, as May has 135 points to Fillmore’s 138. May made a big move in Utah, equaling his season’s best result with a fifth-place run last time out.
Super privateer David Anthony (No. 25 Motosport.com Motul Fly Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000) and the accomplished Aaron Yates (No. 20 Team AMSOIL/Hero EBR 1190RS) round out the top ten entering the NJMP weekend.
For tickets to GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing’s Round 8 at New Jersey Motorsports Park on September 13-15, 2013, please visit http://store.njmp.com/store/category/9/69/AMA-SUPERBIKE/ or call 856-327-8000.
How to Catch the Action
This weekend’s GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing action will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network as part of the CBS Sports Spectacular. This weekend’s coverage consists of four straight hours of programming on September 15, including LIVE broadcasts of Sunday’s AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike and GoPro Daytona SportBike finals. The four-hour block will begin on Sunday, September 15 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT. Fans can find CBS Sports Network on their TV by using the channel finder at http://www.cbssportsnetwork.com/channel-finder.
In addition to the race broadcasts on CBS Sports Network, AMA Pro Live will be live streaming multiple channels of behind-the-scenes video of the weekend’s activities alongside Live Timing & Scoring. AMA Pro Live puts fans in the director’s chair, allowing them to choose from a variety of viewpoints including track cameras, paddock cameras and a press conference channel. Streaming will begin with coverage of the weekend’s practice and qualifying sessions on Friday, September 13 at 11:00 a.m. ET/8:00 a.m. PT at http://www.amaprolive.com/rr/.