Team Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes has been rewarded for a career season, and possible first AMA Pro Road Racing title, with a two-year deal to stay with Yamaha and the Graves Motorsports team.The journeyman earned his first factory ride only last year, but he’s made the most of it. He finished second to Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin last season and has been in the thick of the championship hunt much of this year year, though not from the start.Hayes had a disastrous pair of races at Daytona and didn’t get his first win until the seventh round of the series at Infineon Raceway. That was the kickstart he needed. Since then, the rider that announcers like to call the “Mississippi Madman” hasn’t finished worse than second. He added a second win at Infineon and ran his winning streak to three by winning the first race at Road America. The next win came at Mid-Ohio, after which he won in race two at Virginia International Raceway, which came at a crucial time.By then Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden had closed to within a point of Hayes, 333-332, following Hayden’s win in race one at VIR. But Hayes fired back, winning the second race at VIR and doing the double at New Jersey Motorsports Park, where he’s swept both races over the past two years.
The three-race winning streak ballooned his lead to 22 points and gave him momentum heading into this weekend’s season finale at Barber Motorsports Park. And now he can go there with job security through 2012.”I’m so excited to have this opportunity with Graves Yamaha for the next two seasons” Hayes said in a Yamaha press release. “My crew and the entire team have enjoyed great success this year and it is fantastic to attend this last event with my plans for the future solidly in place. I am looking forward to the final round at Barber and plan to do my best to bring them home the championship they deserve.” Added Graves Motorsports Team owner Chuck Graves, “Josh has proven to be a tremendous asset to the team and his success is proven in the current point standings.”