AMA Pro Racing Barber Preview 2012

June 20, 2012
Byron Wilson
Byron Wilson
Associate Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

Byron's sure to be hunched over a laptop after the checkers are flown, caught in his own little version of heaven. Whether on dirt, street or a combination of both, MotoUSA's newest addition knows the only thing better than actually riding is telling the story of how things went down.

AMA Pro Road Racing heads down to Alabama for Round 6 of the 2012 season. Riders will descend upon the 2.38-mile Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham ready to battle in the Triumph Superbike Classic presented by America’s First Federal Credit Union. Josh Hayes and Martin Cardenas headline the Barber festivities as the two look to extend their respective points leads in the American SuperBike and Daytona SportBike series.

Josh Hayes dominated AMA SuperBike in Race 1 at Road America  winning by over 11 seconds.
Josh Hayes decimated the competition at Road America and hopes to win his first SuperBike race at Barber in Round 6.

AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike 

Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Hayes currently has six wins out of nine AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike contests. He sits 20 points ahead of rival Blake Young of Yoshimura Suzuki, the only rider who has posed a legitimate threat to Hayes’ complete domination of the series. The Mississippi native is on the hunt for his third consecutive AMA SuperBike championship title and after his blistering performance at Road America, is looking unbeatable at the moment.

Surprisingly, Hayes has never won at Barber in the SuperBike class. He went 4-2 at the track in 2011 with then M4 Suzuki rider Martin Cardenas taking the win in Race 1 and Young winning Race 2. Hayes has a long history with Barber though and has won in other classes, of note in particular is his win in 2003, the year Barber opened, where he took his first AMA Pro National Championship in Superstock. He will have plenty of support as he fights to add two more race wins to his already stellar year, “I always have a ton of family and friends there at Barber Motorsports Park, so it’s always a great event for me,” notes the two-time SuperBike champ.

Young is optimistic about his chances to shore up the points gap developing between himself and Hayes. The Yoshimura Suzuki ace has won at the Birmingham track twice over the past two years and scored second in Race 1 in 2009. Overall, of the six times Young and Hayes have competed against one another at Barber, Young has come in ahead of the Yamaha rider four of six times.

Blake Young  79  ahead of Josh Herrin  2  and Ben Bostrom  23 in Race 1.
Blake Young (79) ahead of Josh Herrin (2) and Ben Bostrom (23) in a battle for second-place at Road America.

“I love going there,” Young said of Barber. “The race surface is fantastic. I love the elevations and the multiple variations of turns. It’s always got a good crowd and I know Mr. Barber is a motorcycle enthusiast and loves having us out there and makes us feel at home, as do the fans. I have also gotten to know some of the staff and they are always trying to put on the best event possible. It’s always a good show. It’s always one I look forward to racing, just as much as racing at home.”

Hayes’ teammate Josh Herrin has gained momentum over the course of the season. The SuperBike rookie currently has five podiums to his credit in 2012, and earned his highest finish in second at Miller Motorsports Park after a final lap pass of Young in an incredibly close race. This will be Herrin’s first time out at Barber on a SuperBike, but the R1 rider won at the track in 2011 in Daytona SportBike Race 2.

Outside the Graves Yamaha/Yoshimura Suzuki rivalry, Eric Buell Racing fights the good fight to get an American-made SuperBike to contend with the big names in Japanese and European motorcycle manufacturing. Geoff May and Danny Eslick each have earned a podium finish so far this season. Eslick took third place in Race 1 at Infineon Raceway and May earned third place in Race 2 at the same event. May has only been outside the top ten once, Eslick twice. With podiums to its credit, the next milestone for the East Troy, Wisconsin manufacturer is a SuperBike win.

Roger Hayden.
Roger Hayden started the season strong, but a series of mechanical issues and crashes have recently challenged the Suzuki rider, leaving him well beyond podium range.

Michael Jordan Motorsports Suzuki’s Roger Hayden opened the season with two podium finishes at Daytona and two fourth place finishes at Road Atlanta. Since then, he has met with mechanical issues and a number of crashes that have left him well outside the top ten in all but Race 2 at Infineon where he was able to hold it together to finish in second. Hayden’s teammate Ben Bostrom has had improved showings as the season’s progressed, but has been unable to take a podium finish yet. Performances Steve Rapp is another rider who has faced adversity this year. Prior to his chain snapping mid-race at Road America, the Attack rider broke his wrist at Infineon. The future CRT wild card rider will be gunning for his first SuperBike podium on the Kawasaki.

AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike

In AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, Geico Suzuki’s Cardenas is having a similar season to Hayes. The Colombian rider has taken six race victories of eight this season and leads in points by 47 over Team Latus Racing’s Jason DiSalvo. Unlike Hayes, Cardenas’ wins have come by rather slim margins, most just over one second ahead of his closest competitors. The Suzuki powerhouse met with his most unfortunate finish in Race 2 at Infineon where he crashed out with four laps remaining after holding steady in the lead. Cardenas won at Barber in 2011 in the SuperBike class, so he is no stranger to cranking the throttle at the Alabama circuit.

Martin Cardenas leads the Daytona SportBike pack in Race 1.
Martin Cardenas (36) pulling away from Jason DiSalvo (40), Cameron Beaubier (6) and others at Road America.

“For me, it has been a good track since I went there for the first time,” said Cardenas. “The track is very technical. It has some corners that are blind and very long, so the rider is challenged to do his best. It is very beautiful and the scenery is awesome. It is appropriate for very tight racing and I am looking forward to the race.”

DiSalvo remains second in overall points and would be much closer to Cardenas but for his excruciating weekend at Road Atlanta in Round 2. During Race 1 DiSalvo was forced to pit early and fell to last, having to climb from the bottom and only making it to 17th. In Race 2, the Triumph rider posted what would become the fastest lap of the contest before suffering a mechanical issue, heading to the pit and finishing in 27th. Since that disastrous weekend, DiSalvo has made every podium.

Barber is DiSalvo’s home track and he recently commented, “I’m really excited about going to Barber Motorsports Park. Number one, it’s my home track. Number two, the fact that they have the greatest motorcycle museum is one thing, but the whole facility – the track, the grounds – is like a museum itself. It’s one of those cool things. You roll through the gates at Barber Motorsports Park and you know you are at a cathedral of speed.”

Tommy Hayden recently announced he will finish the 2012 season for Yamaha Extended Service.
Tommy Hayden came in as a replacement for Garrett Gerloff early in the season and recently signed on to complete the 2012 season with Yamaha Extended Service.

Yamaha Extended Service’s Cameron Beaubier has increasingly posed a challenge to the domination of Cardenas and DiSalvo out front. When not burdened with injury or pulling up the back end after a crash, Beaubier has consistently finished on the podium. Inconsistency and injury, however, has him relegated to tenth place overall with 89 points. Out of the title hunt, expect Beaubier to be pressing for wins.

M4 Suzuki’s Dane Westby has been doggedly consistent this season and sits third in overall points. He has finished every race within the top seven, has two podiums to his credit and has only been outside the top five three times. Beaubier’s teammate Tommy Hayden has also posted regularly within the top ten, failing just once in Race 1 at Road America. Westby had dramatically contrasted results at Barber in 2011, taking second in Race 1 and 21nd in Race 2. Hayden rode in SuperBike last year, where he placed third overall, but at Barber posted two of his worst finishes of the season, taking seventh and 20th.

Road Race Factory’s JD Beach and Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki’s Joey Pascarella have earned podiums this year as well, with others such as Ducshop Racing’s Jake Zemke and Meen Motorsports Racing’s Bobby Fong coming tantalizingly close in a number of races.

Jake Lewis  85  ahead of Stefano Mesa  37  in SuperSport Race 2.
The battle for East Division points will be heated between Jake Lewis (85) and Stefano Mesa (37) at Barber.

AMA Pro SuperSport

Barber marks the third round in which AMA Pro SuperSport East riders will gain points. Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki’s Jake Lewis leads the Eastern pack in points, but his performance so far this year has been much more impressive than his points total currently shows. On top of the three podiums he’s earned in his division, he’s taken four which don’t reflect on his points tally.

“I’m really looking forward to coming back east to Barber where my points series starts again after a long break,” said Lewis. “I have a lot of confidence heading into this weekend and I love this track and the whole atmosphere around it.”

Second behind Lewis is’s Stefano Mesa. The Yamaha rider earned his first career SuperSport victory at Road America in Race 2 and is looking forward to the contest at Barber. “Barber is a track I know, so it should be good. I’m going to go out and do my best and try to win this race. My confidence is up after my first professional win and the bike was doing everything I wanted it to do. I’ve been pushing myself in my workouts and riding Supermoto in between races. I’m ready for this round.”

Yamaha’s Tomas Puerta and Castrol Triumph’s Dustin Dominguez will also collect championship points this round. Both riders have earned podiums this year and Dominguez took the win in Race 1 at Infineon. Barring any calamity, either rider may be in contention for the top spot at Barber.

AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200

Bartel’s Harley-Davidson’s Tyler O’Hara continues to hold on out front in points, but has KLR Group’s Kyle Wyman and fellow Bartel’s rider Michael Barnes close behind in second and third consecutively. The three riders have been the consummate front-runners this season; each has at least one win to his credit and all three have been the podium finishers of every XR1200 race of 2012. O’Hara took third at Barber in 2011, whereas Wyman and Barnes finished fifth and sixth respectively.