Josh Hayes has looked unbeatable in recent rounds, with the Graves Yamaha rider on track for a record-breaking season.
In the previous round, Hayes had a perfect weekend at a Barber Motorsports Park, a track at which he’d never scored a victory. He came out and scored pole position and led every lap in both races, bringing his season win tally to eight. With 25 career wins, the Mississippi native is pushing against all-time win records in SuperBike, closing in on third-place rider Ben Spies’ 28 and maintaining a real chance of getting into second, should he pass Miguel DuHamel’s mark at 32. In terms of wins for a single season, Mat Mladin is the current record holder at 12, and with nine races remaining in 2012 Hayes will have that record in his sights.
“Is it attainable?” said Hayes regarding his potential of reaching the all-time season win mark. “Yes. I think every track that we go to I can be competitive at. Attainable, yes, but I think it’s a pretty big ask. Things are going really well right now and if I can maintain this, that would be great. But I don’t expect these guys to let it go on for long. Fortunately for me, things are going good.”
If anyone has a chance to obstruct Hayes from reaching the single season mark, it will be his teammate Josh Herrin. The SuperBike rookie has shown improved performance over the previous rounds, learning from and seriously contending against his teammate. At Barber, Herrin went 2-3 and prevailed as one of the only riders on the grid to keep pace with the points leader.
“I was learning every lap,” Herrin said of the contest at Barber. “Every time I ride this bike I learn more and more. It’s starting to be an amazing bike for me. At the beginning of the year, I don’t want to say I struggled, but I wasn’t where I am now. I put a lot of hard work in and my crew is trying to make this bike adapt to me.”
Herrin’s difficulty early in the season leaves him in third overall heading into the Buckeye weekend, with Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Young holding steady in second. Young has earned a podium finish in every race so far this year, three of which were wins. Early in the season, Young appeared to be the only rider able to challenge Hayes and he continues to be a threat going into Round 7. At Barber, the Suzuki ace went 3-2 and has almost 100 points between himself and Herrin.
Team Amsoil Hero’s Geoff May and Team Hero’s Danny Eslick have also had impressive seasons, each taking podiums and regularly competing for position in the top five. May has been the most successful of the two on the American-made 1190RS, holding fourth overall and going 4-4 at Barber, while Eslick went 5-19 in the same round.
National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden has what it takes to be at the front of the pack as well. Hayden opened the season at Daytona with two third-place finishes, but has since been plagued by all manner of difficulty from mechanical issues to crashes. He holds steady in fifth overall, just one point behind May, and will be looking to continue the consistent pace he found at Barber where he went 5-5.
Jordan Suzuki’s Ben Bostrom is intent on scoring his first podium of the season and also has a very real chance at finishing in the top three. Likewise, Foremost Insurance’s Larry Pegram has yet to attain a spot on the rostrum but has been a regular fixture in the top-ten all season.
Attack Performance/Motorcycle-Superstore.com’s Steve Rapp faced a mid-season rut caused by crashes and mechanical failures, but went 9-7 at Barber and appears to be back in the form he opened the season with, where he finished five straight races within the top ten. The Attack squad will look for a solid finish before their next race after Mid-Ohio – a MotoGP CRT wild card at Laguna Seca (stay tuned for an exclusive preview of the Attack CRT project at Motorcycle USA).
Geico Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas is the man to beat in Daytona SportBike, having six wins to his credit in 10 starts and holding a 51 point lead over second place rider Jason DiSalvo of Team Latus Motors Racing. Cardenas struggled at Barber, taking just one podium in third-place in Race 2 as M4 Suzuki’s Dane Westby and Yamaha Extended Service’s Cameron Beaubier rocketed to the top steps of the podium for their best performances all season.
Westby and DiSalvo are mathematically tied in second-place overall, but DiSalvo sits one place ahead of the Yamaha rider because of his single win in Race 2 at Infineon. Out of the title hunt, Beaubier is keen for more victories after earning his first two SportBike wins at Barber. Westby trailed in second both times at Alabama, with Wolverine looking to more podiums this weekend.
Beubier’s teammate Tommy Hayden took a 3-4 finish at Barber and sits fourth in overall points going into Round 7. Hayden has been stalwart in finishing within the top five, missing out just three times over 10 races.
The Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport action continues in Round 7 as the first round since Road Atlanta to grant points exclusively to East Division riders. Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki’s Jake Lewis leads overall in the division ahead of Kneedragger.com’s Stefano Mesa and Castrol Triumph’s Dustin Dominguez who sit in second and third respectively.
At Barber, Lewis split wins with West Division points leader James Rispoli of Celtic Racing. In the three rounds that have counted toward the East, Lewis has only been outside the top two once. Dominguez and Mesa have both earned race wins this season as well, but all have been in Western Division rounds.
At Barber, Dominguez appeared to be on pace for the win in Race 1, trading position with Lewis a number of times out front before the checkers, but fell short and settled for second after Lewis made a late race pass. The Triumph rider only lags behind Mesa by one point in overall standings and could easily make the jump to second overall with a strong showing in Ohio.
Rispoli, RoadRace Factory’s Hayden Gillim and Yamaha’s Tomas Puerta, all West Division riders, will be in attendance and all three have consistently battled for top-five position this season.