BRASELTON, GA, APRIL 17: Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Blake Young took his first American Superbike pole position in record time in qualifying late on a cool sunny Saturday morning at Road Atlanta.Young’s late lap of 1:24.730 mins. was an impressive half a second faster than the Superpole time of 1:25.281 turned in by Road Atlanta master Mat Mladin last year. That race was the last one for the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team on the 2008 Suzuki GSX-R1000 before the team switched to the K9’s for Barber, which meant they arrived at Road Atlanta this year with no data on the K9.Young had turned in his fast lap on the 13th of 17 and was in the pits with the top spot late in the 50-minute session when he saw a number of riders increasing their pace. That prompted him to action.”Me and (crew chief) Pete (Doyle) and the boys were watching splits and it was getting pretty close there,” Young began. “I mean, it was like, Josh (Hayes) is on a flyer, Tommy’s (Hayden) on a flyer, Jake’s (Zemke) on a flyer. What do we kinda do? I just said, ‘Whatever. You tell me what to do at this point. You’re the experienced one. I’ve never been really in this position. You tell me what to do Pete.’ ‘Go out. See if you can’t squeeze a bit more out of it.'”So, went back out. It was pretty tough to get settled down and get back into the groove of things for one lap, because I think we only had two minutes. I only got one lap. So just try to go out there and squeeze maybe a tenth or two out and just kinda made a mistake up in the esses there. Didn’t want to go through the dirt, because I know they’ve been penalizing guys going through the dirt up there. So wanted to keep it on track. Think I gave a little bit up, but went just as quick as the previous quick lap that I did.”Young’s final lap of 1:24.756 mins. was a tick slower than his pole lap. Still, he was happy to get his first pole.”I’m really happy,” he said. “This is my first pole position in Superbike and I’m excited and happy.”Young edged National Guard Suzuki’s Jake Zemke by .111 secs. Zemke, the provisional pole winner, slipped into the second spot late in the session, dropping Team Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes to third. Zemke said his best chance to take the pole went away when he ran into a slower rider in the Turn 10 chicane on his final fast lap.”I was little bit bummed there on that last little bit,” Zemke said. “I had run those two 24.8’s right in a row and had a little bit better lap going and then found a guy parked down at the bottom of the chicane in the middle of the racetrack. So it’s the way it goes, though, I mean, we deal with that time and time again. It’s just inexcusable when it’s a guy who’s been in our paddock for a while and kinda knows the drill. It’s the end of qualifying. You don’t go down the back straightaway in third gear and then decide to park it in the middle of the race track. It’s not a good idea. But, that’s just the way it is.”Young’s teammate, and Fontana winner, Tommy Hayden, fills out the front row.Ridersdiscount.com’s Taylor Knapp was next, a full second behind Young, and just in front of M4 Monster Energy Suzuki’s John Hopkins. Next to Hopkins on row two are Team Graves Yamaha’s Ben Bostrom, on the strength of his Friday time, and Brett McCormick, the Canadian filling in for the injured Aaron Yates on the Jordan Suzuki.Results:1. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:24.7302. Jake Zemke (Suzuki) 1:24.8413. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:24.8574. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 1:25.1915. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki) 1:25.7496. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1:25.9847. Ben Bostrom (Yamaha) 1:26.0108. Larry Pegram (Ducati) 1:26.1339. Brett McCormick (Suzuki) 1:26.48210. Tray Batey (Suzuki) 1:26.76610.
Young’s First Superbike Pole
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.