MILLVILLE, N.J. (Sept. 14, 2014) – The 2014 AMA Pro Road Racing season enjoyed a fitting conclusion today at New Jersey Motorsports Park as Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes claimed the final checkered flag with the front wheel of his R1 lofted in the air.
Hayes eventually broke free following a frenetic first half to claim the seventh victory of his dominant 2014 campaign with nearly five seconds in hand.
Earlier in the race, Hayes found himself battling with Yoshimura Suzuki Factor Racing teammates Roger Hayden and Martin Cardenas, along with his works Yamaha teammate, Cameron Beaubier. Meanwhile, an impressive Bernat Martinez on the Proto-Tech Spain Yamaha YZF-R1 and KTM/HMC’s Chris Fillmore watched closely in tow.
Saturday winner Hayden ran off track on lap 2 and immediately dropped to near the bottom of the top ten. Beaubier slipped past Cardenas into second that same lap but Hayes already had a two-and-a-half-second lead at that point.
However, the Mississippian’s early advantage evaporated in an instant, as he made a mistake of his own; Hayes ran off track and into the dirt in Turn 1 on lap 4 and drop to third behind the Colombian and Californian.
After quickly working back past Cardenas, Hayes found himself nearly two seconds behind his fleet rookie teammate and charged hard to make up the time.
After five laps of whittling away at the gap, Hayes dove back into the lead on lap 9 in Turn 1. A few laps later, Beaubier looked to return the favor. However, the young pilot couldn’t hold his line after storming back through into the lead and crashed out of the race.
At that point Hayes sailed off to claim his 48th career AMA Pro SuperBike victory. The win was Hayes’ ninth at New Jersey Motorsports Park, which doesn’t even count the two other occasions in which he took the checkered flag first but lost out in the final order due to a penalty.
“I was having so much fun other than that stupid off-road thing I did in Turn 1,” Hayes said. “Running down Cam was so hard but I was so enjoying myself and trying so hard. I really used up a lot of my energy trying to do that. We got up there and got to going back and forth. I was absolutely gutted to see Cam fall down. I really wanted to see a Yamaha 1-2.
“The race wasn’t as smooth as it looked, especially after halfway. I felt that I was a sinking ship. They were making little bits of time and there was really nothing I could do to stop taking on water. I had done a lot of damage to the rear tire, I think when I tried to catch Cameron, in the early part of the race and I was really struggling just to maintain. I was trying really hard to maintain what I was doing and I felt like I was losing ground. I don’t know if they were racing together, but finally with a couple laps to go it afforded me an extra second and I was able to relax a little bit and bring it home.”
Hayes reflected on the last six seasons in which he went from SuperBike dark horse to four-time champion.
“It’s pretty amazing,” he said. “I still try to take it in. I went from to underdog to overdog it seems like overnight. I’m so lucky to have found not just a team but a family. They take care of me and I try to take care of them. The motivation for things like yesterday and today are how hard they work and wanting to do my part. Leadership starts from the top down. I want them to know that every time I get on the motorcycle I’m going to give it everything I have and I feel it ensures they’ll do the same for me. It helps us lift each other when we’re both struggling at different times. In five years you can believe there’s ups and downs and hard times and good times. I think it helps us do all those things. I’ve been lucky to work with a team so long and have so much success.”
Hayden, who came into the weekend with a separated shoulder, clawed his way back up through the field to close in on Cardenas. The two went back-and-forth on the race’s final laps with Hayden ultimately getting the better of the melee to claim second. The result, combined with Beaubier’s misfortunate, allowed the Suzuki rider to steal the runner-up spot in the championship as well.
“The race started off pretty well but I made a little mistake,” Hayden explained. “Josh is really good at getting away in the beginning. I tried to hang with him in the first couple laps and made a mistake and just ran off the track. But I fought all the way back up to second. I’ve got to thank all my guys for all they’ve done for me all year. We finished the year strong, which is exactly what we wanted to do, so this is for them.”
Cardenas claimed his fourth podium result of the season with his Sunday third.
“It was a difficult race because this track is very physical,” Cardenas said. “I wanted to finish a little bit higher on the podium but today this was the maximum I could get. I’m happy for the team to finish on the box, which is always good for me and for the team.”
Fillmore suffered another DNF while Martinez held off ADR Motorsports, Sic, Motul Fly’s David Anthony for fourth by a scant 0.019 seconds at the flag. That impossibly small distance was also the difference between fourth and fifth in the 2014 championship for Anthony as he lost out to today’s seventh-place finisher, Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Chris Clark by a single point in the final tally.
A five-rider pack grouped up mid-distance in the race for sixth through 10th. Sixth ultimately went to the 2014 Canadian Superbike champ, 22-year-old Jodie Christie on the Honda Canada/Accelerated Technologies CBR1000RR.
He was followed by Clark, Sunday podium man Larry Pegram on the Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing EBR 1190RS, GEICO Motorcycle Racing Honda’s Chris Ulrich, and TOBC Racing II’s Taylor Knapp.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
2014 AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike champion Jake Gagne closed it out in style on Sunday, running away with the season finale. Gagne won his third contest of the year, topping Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff and yesterday’s winner, Dane Westby of Yamalube/Westby Racing.
Jake Lewis (Meen Motorsports) earned fourth and was a factor in the battle for second much of the race.
Gagne got a clean start and led the whole way. He managed his gap well, dropping into the mid-1:23 second range when the pack threatened to make inroads on his lead. After clinching the title on Saturday, Gagne was clearly on a mission to win the finale.
“A few laps in, I saw they were coming from my pit board,” said Gagne. “I was either going to crash out or win it. I wanted to go for it. I started inching away from there.”
At the flag, Gagne lead by 2.562 seconds.
Lewis and Westby looked poised to fight for second to the flag, but Gerloff snuck through and held the spot during the final two laps. The Yamaha factory pilot eased a slight gap and Westby and Lewis battled for the final spot on the box.
Westby set the quick lap of the race after starting poorly from pole.
JD Beach (Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha) earned another top five to close out the season.
AMA Pro SuperSport
Houston Superbikes’ Dustin Dominguez won a tight 16-lap race in AMA Pro SuperSport over TOBC Racing’s Hayden Gillim, but Gillim won the championship by two points anyway after winning on Saturday.
Wyatt Farris of Celtic Racing/HVMC earned third to end his year with a podium result.
Dominguez shadowed Gillim in the early going, then took control at the midpoint as the duo hit traffic. Unfortunately for the Dominguez, winning was not enough. He needed other riders to join the battle for the lead and relegate Gillim to at least third in the race standings. That never happened as Dominguez and Gillim finished ten seconds in front of the pack led by Farris.
“This is probably the most depressing win I’ve ever had but it’s a win and that’s good,” said Dominguez. “Hayden got a good start and I chased him down and tried to pressure him. I thought if we went at it, someone might catch up.”
Gillim made a late run and nearly won the race, finishing just 0.041 seconds back. After finishing second in his championship four straight years, Gillim finally took the No. 1 plate.
“I’d rather fight my hardest and crash away the championship than give away a race. That’s how I’d rather have it. The strategy was to win. It always is,” said Gillim. “The first few laps, I was pushing as hard as I could. We were having a really good battle. It’s insane the support I have gotten and I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Farris topped Kaleb De Keyrel (De Keyrel Racing) for third as well as fast local rider Mark Miller Jr., of Mar Del Racing. Miller was a little more than 1.5 seconds from repeating his Saturday podium result.
AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series
It didn’t come without a fair amount of drama and grit, but Ruthless Racing/Trev Deeley Motorcycles’ Danny Eslick ultimately came through to win the 2014 AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series title.
Eslick came into the weekend needing just a seventh place or better to assure himself the crown, but a major crash in this morning’s qualifying session put his participation in doubt.
His team rebuilt the motorcycle in time for Eslick to hurriedly take the grid from the back row, from where the beaten and bruised Oklahoman battled his way forward.
He crossed the line in sixth at the checkered flag to become the Series’ first two-time champion.
“I ran off the track and wadded it up in the wet grass this morning and pretty much destroyed that motorcycle,” Eslick said. “The Trev Deeley/Ruthless Racing team busted their butts from the time I crashed the motorcycle until the moments before the race. We were pretty close to not making it.
“I’ve ridden it three seasons now and that’s the first time I’ve crashed it. It’s bound to happen and the way these guys are riding – they’re riding incredibly. The level that this Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series has risen to is unbelievable. I used to be able to play around and sandbag a little bit and still have a shot at it, but now you really have to be on your game and work on your set up. Hats off to everybody out there.”
Eslick’s run was far from the only entertainment the day’s contest provided. Up front, a five-rider dice took shape for the win. However, title hopeful Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson’s Ben Carlson was effectively dropped from contention for the win when he was assessed a penalty for anticipating the start. Likewise, NJMP master Shane Narbonne of the Six-Four Motors squad ran off track, costing him precious time and a place in the lead pack.
And Josh Chisum Racing/Bartel’s Harley-Davidson’s Tyler O’Hara just lost touch, leaving Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson’s Steve Rapp and KWR/Millennium Technologies’ Kyle Wyman to decide the race.
Wyman slashed into the lead as the two hit slower riders and made the most of the opportunity to drop Rapp and close out the year with a win. Rapp took second, followed by O’Hara, Narbonne, Carlson and Eslick.
“I tried to put my head down from the beginning,” Wyman said. “I got the holeshot from the second row and did my best to push as hard as I could for a whole lap. But Steve came flying by on the front straightaway, and from that point I knew the race was going to be a little different than I wanted it to be. It turned into a pack and I sat there through the middle part of the race. It was getting crazy up front and I just wanted to make sure I didn’t get caught up in any of that.
“I basically put myself in the right place at the right time at the end. I made a push to the front and I got the lead just as we hit the lappers. The lappers are going to be either way – they’re going to hold you up or give you a big gap. They gave me a gap and I put my head down the last two laps and it worked out great. I’m so happy to get another win this year.”
Source and Photo: AMA Pro Racing/Brian J. Nelson