Written by Dan Evon, Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com
It wasn’t until after the New Jersey race that Josh Hayes found a little breathing room at the top of the AMA Superbike leader board. Hayes and Tommy Hayden had been battling all season for the Superbike title, but going into Barber Motorsports Park, Hayes had a lead of 22 points.
The cushion was big enough where Hayes didn’t have to find race victories if he wanted to win a racing championship. Hayes just had to stay near the front of the pack, avoid crashes, and finish on the podium.
It was Hayden’s responsibility to put the pressure on Hayes, and he did so during the first free practice session.
Day 1 at Barber Motorsports Park
When the Superbike riders took to the track for the first time at Barber Motorsports Park, all the momentum was squarely behind Josh Hayes. Hayes took victories at both races in New Jersey, and built his lead up to 22 points going into the championship round. But his main rival, Tommy Hayden, wasn’t going to let a pesky 22 points intimidate him.
Hayden hit the track fast, and showed Hayes that the battle for the championship was far from over. Hayden was the fastest during the free practice session, beating out his rival by a tenth of a second.
Blake Young took third for the day, followed by Jake Holden and Jake Zemke.
Qualifying – Superbike
For the past four races, there have been two names at the top of the podium for the AMA Superbike. Josh Hayes and Tommy Hayden have been swapping victories for much of the season, but during the first qualifying session, it looked like there could be a new name at the top.
Blake Young took the provisional pole from his teammate Hayden. Which is good news for Hayden. In order to win the championship, Hayden needs Young and a few other Superbike riders to find themselves on the podium. Of course, Hayden still needs to come out on top, and he shouldn’t count on his teammate to let that happen.
“Obviously I’d like for Tommy to win, bring the championship, and keep the streak going within the team. That’d be great. Absolutely I’d like to get out there and mix it up with the guys and try to get in between Tommy and Josh and try to help Tommy out as much as I possibly can,” Young said after the race.
“But at the end of the day we want to win too and that’s what we came to do. I think finishing off the year with a couple wins, obviously, would be great. It’d motivate me really, really hard to go into the off-season to come back strong for the 2011 season and fight for it.”
The third place spot during the qualifying session was taken by fellow Suzuki rider, Josh Hopkins. Season leader Josh Hayes took fourth. Hayes has a 22 point lead going into tomorrow’s race, but a handful of Suzuki’s are looking to change that.
Day 2 at Barber Motorsports Park
2nd Qualifying – Superbike
Blake Young continued to show that he is in it to win it this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, by capturing the pole position in front of Josh Hayes, John Hopkins, and teammate Tommy Hayden. Young isn’t in contention for the title, but that doesn’t mean that’s he’s going to relax, and hand over the race win to his teammate.
Hayden, who could win the Superbike championship with a couple of race wins and a handful of luck, is looking to his teammate to step it up this weekend and place ahead of Josh Hayes.
But it looks like Young is stepping it up a bit too much. Young said that he isn’t setting out to beat Hayden, but he isn’t just going to settle for second place either.
“We’ll see how the race plays out,” Young said.
Young will be followed by Josh Hayes, John Hopkins, and Tommy Hayden on the first row of the grid tomorrow.
Hayden trails by 22 points, and needs every point if he wants to win the AMA Superbike Championship. But Hayden says that he isn’t concerned with the bonus points that he could have earned by claiming the pole position, or the bonus points he could earn by leading the most laps during the race.
“I don’t think those single points matter much at this point,” Hayden said. “I’m going for race wins.”
Race 1 – Superbike
Before the qualifying session, the winner of the first race at Barber Motorsports park for the AMA Superbike was clear. Either Tommy Hayden or Josh Hayes would walk away with the race win. But after a few free practice sessions and a couple qualifying rounds, those sure things were put into doubt.
John Hopkins and Blake Young were having a fantastic few days of racing, and their bikes seemed set for victory. The podium was up for grabs when the Superbike riders lined up for their first race at Barber Motorsports park.
Young, who started from the pole position, was looking to claim his third win of the season, but admittedly got off to a bad start.
“I rode a little bit like a little girl,” Young said. “I just didn’t have anything for them.”
But despite Young’s less than intimidating riding, the Rockstar Makita rider was still able to claim the final spot on the podium.
Both Young and Hopkins were able to stay with the top two riders for the first half of the race, but eventually, Hayden and Hayes created another two man show. The two title contenders went back and forth over the final laps, and eventually it came down to the final straight away. Hayden managed to push his Suzuki past the line just .05 seconds ahead of Hayes.
It was all that Hayden could do to catch up to Hayes on the overall leader board, but two race wins won’t be enough to take the championship if Hayes keeps claiming second place. Hayden was only able to shave 4 points off of Hayes’ lead.
“If I get a lucky break, maybe I can walk away with the championship,” Hayden said. “But all I can do is go out tomorrow and try for the race win.”
Unfortunately, that’s all Hayes has to do, too. A podium finish for Hayes will secure the AMA Superbike championship.
Day 3 at Barber Motorsports Park
Warm Up – Superbike
The Superbike riders didn’t get much of a chance to warm-up before the final race of the season. Oil leaking from Brett McCormick’s bike cut the warm-up session short before any Superbike rider got the chance to put in more than two laps.
Tommy Hayden, who took the race 1 victory, was still 18 points behind Josh Hayes. Hayden will need a race win on the wet track this afternoon, and he’ll need teammate Blake Young, Jake Zemke, or another Superbike rider to step up and keep up Hayes off of the podium.
After a big storm in the morning, the Barber Motorsports track was finally beginning to dry. Beginning, being the keyword in that sentence. There were still puddles on the track and dark clouds in the sky, but the conditions were much improved for the morning session.
For Tommy Hayden, it was a must win situation. Hayden was trailing by 18 points going into the second race, and needed a race win if he wanted to challenge for the championship. Of course, that wasn’t the only thing that Hayden needed. Hayden would need Hayes to crash, or at least to finish outside the top ten.
But Hayes knew this too, so he set himself up to “watch” a fantastic race. The battle for the race win played out in front of Hayes, as the season leader hung back out of the action.
“I just put it in cruise control, and enjoyed watching the race,” Hayes said.
At the front, Hayden was vying for victory to better his chances at the title, while his Rockstar Makita teammate Blake Young was trying for victory for redemption.
“I’ve had more luck here than good,” said Young. Young had crashed out of the 2009 race at Barber, losing a part of his finger in the process, and took another spill that sidelined him for most of the 2010 season at Barber in June.
When it came down to the checkered flags, it was Young’s will to win that pushed him to the front of the pack.
I wanted to “ride really, really hard and show these guys what I’m capable of doing,” Young said after the race. Young showed that he is capable of race wins, and will be fighting for the series championship next year at Barber.
Young finished ahead of John Hopkins, Larry Pegram, and Hayden.
“In the end, we just wasn’t quite good enough overall, if you look at it,” Hayden said. “We had a really good year… Just got to go back now and take a little time off and regroup and try to come back next year swinging harder.”
Hayes never challeneged for the race 2 win at Barber Motorsports Park, and he didn’t have too. Hayes cruised into 7th place to take the Superbike Championship.
“Right now, it’s a relief, I’m glad it’s over,” Hayes said. But before he could revel in the moment of his victory, he said “I’m not looking forward to a long off season. I’m already thinking about next year.”