AMA Pro Racing New Jersey Preview

September 2, 2009
By Melody DeKorte
AMA Pro Daytona SportBike comes down to the wire this Labor Day weekend as the AMA Pro Road Racing series comes to Thunderbolt Raceway in New Jersey Motorsports Park. The AMA Pro Superbike race will also decide who takes home the final two championship spots left on the podium.

American Superbike

Rockstar Suzukis Mat Mladin wrapped up his seventh AMA Superbike championship at VIR on Sunday.
Mat Mladin goes out on top retiring after breaking records in 2009.

Australian Mat Mladin will race under the Champion’s No. 1 plate as he pilots his Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki as the 2009 American Superbike Team Champion and anchor Suzuki’s 09 American Superbike Manufacturer Championship title as well. This event also marks the seven-time AMA Pro American Superbike Champion’s farewell as he retires at the end of weekend.

While Mladin may have the top podium spot sealed in the American SuperBike series, several others are vying for the final positions. The top contenders are Mladin’s teammate, Tommy Hayden, and Yamaha Motor Corp’s Josh Hayes. Hayden, who has had a top-three finish in half of this year’s 18 races, is still anxious for an American Superbike win. Hayes, noted for breaking Suzuki’s race winning streak, sits a mere four points behind Hayden and both will be scrambling for the win this weekend.

Josh Hayes - American Superbike  Mid-Ohio
Hayes vs. Hayden for the title of second best.
Hayden rode a solid first race at Road Atlanata  keeping a hard-carging Geoff May at bay.

The remaining top five riders in the championship standings are: Hayes’s teammate, Ben Bostrom, and Ducati‘s Larry Pegram.  Bostrom, the 2008 AMA Supersport Champion, currently resides in fourth in the points standings after a solid third-place finish at VIR and a runner-up finish on Saturday at Topeka One. After a three year absence from racing, Pegram has returned to AMA Pro Road Racing and currently sits in fifth with 313 points.
Though injured in May at the Barber Race, Blake Young, Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki, sits sixth in the championship with 264 points after a podium finish of third on Saturday at Topeka One.

Aaron Yates, Brand Jordan Suzuki and Geoff May, National Guard Jordan Suzuki, currently sit in seventh and eighth and are looking for their first ever victories of the 2009 season. Yates has finished second in Barber and Mid-Ohio and third in Race 2 at Road America and at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Career best for May has been three-third place finishes this year.

After suffering serious injury in a motocross accident earlier this year, Neil Hodgson, Corona Extra Honda, the ‘03 World Superbike Champion, currently sits 11th in the points standing. Hodgson has eight top-ten finishes missing only six races in the season.

Daytona SportBike

And while the American Superbike’s title seems to be written in stone, the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike title is still up in the air with three contenders battling it out; Danny EslickMartin Cardenas, and Josh Herrin.

Rossmeyer RMR Buells Danny Eslick at Fontana.
Points leader and Buell 1125R rider Danny Eslick (9) will look to cross the finish line before rival Martin Cardenas to claim the Daytona SportBike title.

Current points leader Eslick (GEICO Powersports/RMR Buell 1125R) has won six Daytona Sportbike races this year and is currently 17 points ahead Team M4 Suzuki’s Cardenas. Eslick, who has finished in the top-three 10 times this year, looks to keep the lead while Cardenas tries to muscle his way back in. Cardenas is no stranger to the podium either, accomplishing seven first-place victories this year before a hand injury at VIR would shut down his winning streak.

Herrin, Team Graves Yamaha, has proven to be a tough guy to shake. Although the young Yamaha rider started out early in the season by finishing on the podium only once in four races, he has made a hard charge at the end of the season to prove he’s a contender. With 321 points currently, he is the only other rider left with a chance at the title.

Eslick held off a final charge from Kawasakis Jamie Hacking in the second Daytona SportBike race - Fontana
Jamie Hacking (88) chases down Eslick (9) at Fontana earlier this year.

Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki‘s Jamie Hacking has nine top-five finishes this season but Hacker is yet to score a win.  Fellow veteran Racer, Jake Zemke, winner of the 2008 AMA SuperBike Championship Formula Extreme title, has 12 top-10 results for the Erion Honda squad but is also win-less this year.


Another series to watch this Labor Day weekend will be AMA SuperSport. Based on an age group of 16 to 21, this showcases future motorcycle racing stars of America racing on minimally modified factory 600cc sportbikes. East Coast title winner, Josh Day (Yamaha), and West Coast champ, Ricky Parker (Yamaha), will face off along with fellow 2009 race winners like Leandro Mercado (Kawasaki), and Garret Carter (Yamaha).

Event Schedule

The action begins with practice, qualifying and Superpole qualifying on Friday, September 4, and continues straight into the weekend with three races each day on Saturday and Sunday. The SunTrust Moto-GT enduro on Saturday, September 5, at 11 a.m. will be followed by the first finals for American Superbike at 3 p.m. and Daytona SportBike at 4:10 p.m. Sunday, September 6, will see Daytona SportBike roll off first at 2 p.m., SuperSport following at 3:10 p.m. and American Superbike closing the weekend at 4:20 p.m. The Superbike and Daytona SportBike races are each 23 laps for 50 miles on the 2.20-mile Thunderbolt circuit while the SuperSport race is a 19-lap distance for 40 miles.

All of the action from the AMA Pro Superbike Championships at New Jersey will be featured in a pair of same-day telecasts on SPEED. Saturday’s American Superbike and Daytona SportBike finals and other action will be shown that night in a two-hour show at 7:30 p.m. ET (4:30 p.m. PT) while Sunday’s premier class races and other highlights will air in a two-hour show that evening at Midnight ET (9 p.m. PT).

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