Written by Dan Evon, Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com
Going into the weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, the Young Gun Division title was up for grabs. It didn’t matter that J.D. Beach had already claimed 5 victories during the 2010 AMA Supersport season. It didn’t matter that Joey Pascarella had already clinched the West Division title. And it didn’t matter that Elena Myers had scored a historic Supersport victory for a female rider.
The Young Gun Championship was going to be decided in a shootout, and it was going to be decided at Barber.
Day 1 at Barber Motorsports Park
Free Practice – Supersport
The Supersport riders got to watch both the AMA Superbike and the Daytona Sportbike divisions before they took to the Barber Motorsports Park track for the first time during the Young Gun showdown.
J.D. Beach and Joey Pascarella had both won their respective divisions in the West and in the East, but the Young Gun showdown would decide the 2010 Supersport champ.
Beach took it easy during the first free practice session, and would eventually finish in 6th, nearly a second behind the pace Huntley Nash.
Pascarella led the Supersport division during the opening free practice session, setting a 1’31.235 time. Pascarella’s pace was nearly matched, however, by James Rispoli, who finished .4 seconds off the leading man. Rispoli was coming off of his first race win of his Supersport career, and was looking for back to back victories to finish off the Supersport season.
Rispoli was followed by title contender Huntley Nash, Tyler O’hara, and Elena Myers.
Pascarella has already locked up the West division title, but he will have to fight off 6th place finisher J.D. Beach, who claimed the East division title, if he wants to win the AMA Supersport Championship
1st Qualifying – Supersport
Beach turned up the heat during the 1st qualifying session, but still couldn’t find his way around Joy Pascarella. Pascarella had found his groove on the Barber Motorsports track, and was the first and only rider to break the 1’30 barrier during the first qualifying session.
In fact, Pascarella was the only rider to even get close to 1’30. Beach, who finished second during the first qualifying, was 6 tenths of a second off the pace of Pascarella, and James Rispoli was more than a second off the pace in third.
At the end of the first day at Barber Motorsports park, Pascarella was the only rider who found the perfect settings for his bike. Beach, Rispoli, Nash, and the rest of the Supersport grid returned to the pits to talk about how to improve their bikes to get down to a competitive pace.
But with rain threatening to fall on the second day at Barber, the Supersport riders may have already found their quickest qualifying times, and the race grid may have already been set.
Day 2 at Barber Motorsports Park
2nd Qualifying – Supersport
The threat of rain quickly disappeared on Saturday Morning when the Supersport riders were greeted with blue skies for their second qualifying session at Barber Motorsports Park.
With pole position, and a thousand dollar bonus prize at stake, J.D. Beach decided it was time to climb to the top of the time sheets. Beach had finished second behind Joey Pascarella in the first qualifying session, but a 1’29.660 lap time put Beach on top at the end of Q2. Beach was the only rider to finish below 1’30, qualifying just a second slower than the Daytona Sportbike riders.
Pascarella had another solid day during the second qualifying session, even though he couldn’t match his time from day 1. Beach’s biggest rival this weekend, Huntley Nash, bettered his time by almost a second from Q1 to take third for the day.
James Rispoli was unable to better on his Q1 time, but still managed a fourth place finish during the second qualifying session. Austin Dehaven, Corey Alexander, and Elena Meyers were the next riders across the line.
Race 1 – Supersport
After an intense day and a half of qualifying, the AMA Supersport riders were ready to put in their bids for the Championship. Most people had their money on J.D. Beach, who was a dominant force during the Supersport season in the East division. In the West, Joey Pascarella had taken the win, and was ready to go head to head against Beach in the Young Gun Showdown.
But race favorite J.D. Beach only lasted a lap and a half during the first Supersport race at Barber Motorsports Park. Beach would take a head over heal over head tumble that would take him out of the race, and ultimately out of contention for the Young Gun title. The door was now wide open for Huntly Nash, James Rispoli, Joey Pascarella, or any of the other Supersport riders.
But the amount of challengers at the top dropped by another racer when James Rispoli went wide and lost control of his bike. Rispoli was able to remount, and get back on the track, but the fall dropped him from second down to 18th.
Tomas Puerta put in a great race, and did his best to challenge at the front. But Pascarella and Nash had too much speed. The top two separated themselves from the pack by more than a second, and entered into a duel that saw a few near touches.
“He’s probably the hardest guy I’ve ever tried to pass. I could have been more aggressive,” Pascarella said. “But it’s only Saturday, and I didn’t want to take us both out of the race.”
Nash, who painted his bike pink to support breast cancer, had a little extra incentive to win Saturday’s race. He was racing for his mother.
“I wanted to win this race for mom,” Nash said after the race.
And Nash did. Nash and his bright pink Yamaha took the race win from Pascarella by .4 seconds.
By Sunday morning, the rain had finally arrived at Barber Motorsports Park. The 8:00 start time for the AMA Supersport riders was pushed back to 9, as lightning fell and thunder crashed around the track.
The Supersport riders were gathered together at about 8:45, to talk about the inevitable, rain or shine race day.
“There’s a puddle here,” said one of the race directors. “And here. Down this straight away, there’s a series of puddles in the middle of the track.” There was a map of the track behind him, and turn by turn he warned the riders of the coming dangers. “There’s a river running through the track here, but besides that, the track is fine.”
The Supersport riders laughed, returned to the pits, and get ready for a wet day of racing.
When the green flag was flown, the rain had let up to a light drizzle, and after the first few laps it had stopped altogether. The Supersport riders were still cautious, however, with Huntley Nash setting a best lap of 1.41’315, more than 10 seconds slower than times set on Day 1 and 2.
With more rain expected to fall throughout the day, the winner of the second Supersport race would be decided more by skill and strategy than speed.
On a wet track and under cloudy skies, the Supersport riders started falling one by one during the second race at Barber Motorsports Park. By the end of the second lap, two riders, Antoine Richards and Raphael Archambault, took tumbles across the grass.
Huntley Nash, who was fighting for the Supersport Young Gun championship, was the next, but not the last rider to hit the pavement. Elena Myers, James Rispoli, and Joey Pascarella all took falls, and all lost the chance to end their 2010 Supersport seasons with a win.
With the 21 man field cut down to 15, J.D. Beach pulled back the throttle and launched himself into the lead. Beach had lost his chance to win the Young Gun showdown when he crashed out of contention during race 1, but that wasn’t going to stop him from ending the season with a victory.
“After the rookie mistake I made yesterday,” Beach said. “I just wanted to finish with one more good result for my team”
Beach was able to give his team that last good performance. He built a lead of more than 15 seconds, before laying off the gas and cruising to his 8th win of the season.
With four of the top riders out of contention during race 2, the Young Gun Championship was up for grabs. Austin Dehaven and Tomas Puerta saw the opportunity for the championship, and both started to fight for control of the race.
The two swapped spots for a few laps, but in the end, Dehaven was able to find enough speed to launch himself into second place on the podium, and first for the 2010 Young Gun title.
“I was just trying to be as consistent as possible,” Dehaven said after the race. “This is really big for me.”