BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (September 26, 2010) - AMA Pro Racing had a memorable day where five Champions were crowned in four classes at Barber Motorsports Park. Josh Hayes, Martin Cardenas, Danny Eslick, Austin DeHaven and Tyler O'Hara all captured the coveted Number One Plate in recognition of their hard fought and well deserved championships in their respective classes. The drama was increased for all involved when they awoke to a morning rain here in central Alabama.
In AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike, Josh Hayes ran a careful and calculating race and finished seventh in damp conditions to clinch the 2010 National Guard SuperBike title, his first. Josh had seven wins and three pole positions on his Team Graves Yamaha in a season that saw him battle to the very last race of the season with yesterday's winner, Tommy Hayden. Hayden took fourth today but it wasn't enough to overcome the eighteen point lead Hayes held at the start of the day.
Tommy's Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate Blake Young won today's thrilling race over John Hopkins and Larry Pegram. The racing was furious at the front of the field, with Young, Hopkins on his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki, Hayden, Geoff May on his Buell, Pegram, Jake Zemke on his National Guard Jordan Suzuki and Hayes all running together.
Larry Pegram looked very quick on his Foremost Insurance Ducati and he and Hopkins along withGeoff May were really battling away. Hayes ran comfortably with Zemke and when he went by, Hayes was content to run just behind Zemke and the lead group and ahead of Brett McCormick on the second Jordan Suzuki. Brett passed Hayes as well and Josh could still see the lead group and felt he was in good shape. The moment of truth for Hayes came on lap ten when McCormick had a fall at turn four and Josh had to take to the wet grass to avoid Brett and his motorcycle. Josh was able to control the Yamaha and calmly rode back onto the track and continued, his heart rate up considerably for the moment.
"I had to go on the grass when Brett high-sided and it was very slick, but it was the slowest turn on the track and I thought, 'even if I fall, I can pick the bike back up and continue,'" said Hayes after the race. Josh ran a lonely race from there on and brought the championship home with his seventh place finish to end up 16 points ahead of Tommy Hayden.
Meanwhile, up front it became Blake Young's day as he led all but two laps of the race to take his third win of the 2010 SuperBike season. Hopkins, Pegram and Hayden were fighting for every inch of track and after May dropped back, Hayden did what he could to overcome Hayes' points lead but it just wasn't to be. Hayden had five wins this season and vows to be back better than ever in 2011.
For Blake Young it was a great day after suffering a severe back injury earlier this year here at Barber Motorsports Park. Blake missed three events and five races and for him to come back this weekend and win from pole position was very meaningful to him.
"When I was lying on the couch at home recovering, it was hard watching these guys race," said Young. "But I worked hard to come back. I knew the championship was gone so all I could do is win races and repay the hard that my team has put in for me all year."
In the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike class, Martin Cardenas captured his series high ninth win of the year to take his first AMA Pro Racing championship by eight points over last year's champion,Danny Eslick and his GEICO Powersports Suzuki team. Martin, on his M4 Monster Energy Suzuki took a solid victory over Eslick and Dane Westby in another classic Daytona Sportbike race.
Today's Daytona SportBike race was also impacted by wet weather and after the Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha team riders Clinton Seller and Dane Westby took up station at the front, Martin, running third, was the one who was firmly in control of the championship. His main rivals, Eslick and Team Graves Yamaha rider Josh Herrin had a coming together at one point and both were back from the comfortable looking Cardenas.
All of that changed dramatically on lap 14 when both Westby, who was now leading and also Sellers, had spectacular accidents which brought out the red flag. In the blink of an eye, Martin's ten second advantage over Eslick and Herrin was gone. Restarting the race with nine laps left, it was Herrin who led with Martin right behind him and Eslick in third. Eslick made a major move and went from third to first and now he was in position to take the championship.
Martin now found himself in fourth, behind Dane Westby as well as his main championship rivals. The big moment came on lap nineteen when Herrin made a major move on Eslick in turn four and the two touched as Eslick dove back under Herrin as they went through the middle of the corner, Herrin went off and in a moment, Cardenas was by and into the lead he would not relinquish.
Eslick recovered to run second ahead of Westby who had been slightly delayed in the melee as well. As hard as Danny tried, he just couldn't run Martin down, right at the end, Danny had a big moment and Martin was able to take the checkered flag and the championship by 1.687 seconds. Herrin recovered to finish eleventh and wound up third in the championship with 377 points, twenty-eight behind Cardenas and twenty behind Eslick.
Danny was gracious after the race, "I hate to lose the number one plate but Martin just beat us today, we raced as hard as we could and gave all we had."
Martin felt great about winning the championship, "I have to thank my M4 Monster Energy Suzuki team, they work so hard and are the best team I have ever worked with, I feel so good for them," said Martin after the race.
Another rider who thanked his team was Dane Westby, after he went down, his Project 1 Atlanta Yamaha team and also the Pat Clark Motorsports team all pitched in to fix his Yamaha in record time so that he was able to re-start the race and end up third. "I can't thank everyone enough," said Westby, "I took quite a flight there, and they finished fixing the bike about two seconds before it was time to go so to end up third is pretty great."
Chronic Motorsports Yamaha rider Paul Allison featured after the restart and he took fourth ahead of Vesrah Suzuki teammates Chris Fillmore and Cory West. Team Latus Motors Ducati rider Steve Rapp finished seventh ahead of Tommy Aquino, Clinton Seller and Kyle Wyman, all riding Yamahas.
In SuperSport, Austin DeHaven captured the title of AMA Pro SuperSport Young Gun champion as he took a second place finish in addition to his fourth place from yesterday to score a combined point total to grab the number one plate for the Young Gun group in SuperSport. Tyler O'Hara took a well deserved Top Gun national championship after finishing ninth and seventh respectively in the weekend's races. The race was won by East Division champion J.D. Beach who didn't figure into the combined race for the Young Gun championship after crashing out of yesterday's race. Early challengers for the title, Huntley Nash and Joey Pascarella many others crashed out of today's race that was run in wet conditions. A very disappointed Tomas Puerta finished third today and yesterday but it wasn't enough to beat the steady and delighted DeHaven from grabbing the Young Gun crown.
The first race of the day was run in the most difficult conditions. The Vance & Hines XR1200 series lined up with the visiting British champion Jeremy McWilliams taking the win over veteran Michael Barnes and New Jersey winner P.J. Jacobson. McWilliams, over thanks to Warr's and Roadracingworld.com and HOG Racing, showed the way from start to finish with Barnes riding the Jones Brothers XR1200 shadowing his every move. The two ran nose to tail for the entire eleven lap race but it was McWilliams who pulled away at the end to take the win, making him unique in that he has won on XR1200 Harley-Davidsons on two continents this year. Barnes was delighted to be riding and Jacobson backed up his fine form from New Jersey to take another podium finish. Due to his early season three wins, it was Danny Eslick riding the RMR Bruce Rossmeyer Daytona Racing XR1200 with valuable support from GIECO Powersports and Lucas Oil who captured the initial Vance & Hines XR1200 championship and the number one plate that goes with it.
All in all, it has been an exciting, memorable and historic 2010 season for AMA Pro Road Racing and with five champions crowned in four classes on the final day of the season, the season ended on the highest note possible.
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