Young’s Race, Hayes’ Title

Henny Ray Abrams | September 26, 2010

LEEDS, AL, SEPT 26 –  In the final race of the year, and on a partially wet road course at Barber Motorsports Park, Team Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes won his first AMA Pro Road Racing American SuperBike championship.Hayes never challenged for the win, but he didn’t have to. A year of consistent results delivered him to Alabama with a 22-point lead over Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden, the only rider with even the slimmest chance of derailing Hayes’ title hopes. The way the math worked out, if Hayes crashed, Hayden had to finish third and neither happened, though both came close. Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Blake Young led the race from the pole position on slicks, the choice of most of the field on a track which was drying after an earlier shower. Young led a string of five riders, all veterans and all with more wet weather experience. The only other rider to lead the race was M4 Monster Energy Suzuki’s John Hopkins, who had years of wet weather experience on the world’s best tracks, but was on Dunlop DOT’s in the rain for the first time. Hopkins led two laps, the third and the seventh; Young led the rest.He sped to his third victory of the season and first since sweeping the Road Atlanta double-header early in the season. The margin of victory was 1.306 secs.Joining Hopkins and Young at the front were Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing’s Larry Pegram, Buell’s Geoff May, and Hayden, who was at the back of the pack before being passed by National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s on the ninth of 21 laps.Hopkins took control of second from May on the 12th lap and held it to the finish, securing his best career Superbike finish. Added to Saturday’s third, it was his best weekend of his first Superbike season.Pegram moved into third on the 12th lap and also stayed there. He’d had a difficult season; he certainly expected more after winning multiple races last year and winning again early this season. But after the victory in the first race at Auto Club Speedway, he didn’t finish better than third.Hayden came away in fourth and less than a tenth out of third. He knew his only chance was if Hayes fell, and he didn’t, so Hayden didn’t take any chances for third.”Yeah, for sure, I was kinda happy to see the rain,” Hayden said. “I feel like that could create a few more opportunities for me today. But in the end, we just wasn’t quite good enough overall, if you look at it. We won some races. Had a really good year. I’m really happy, but Josh (Hayes) was a little bit better than us, just that little bit. And that’s definitely part of the game, part of what keeps you motivated and things like that.”Zemke was fifth, a second in front of May, with Hayes nearly 50 secs. behind the winner, and happy to be there, though he had a very scary moment. Hayes had been passed by Jordan Suzuki’s Brett McCormick on the 11th lap and was content to sit in eighth. On the next lap, McCormick high-sided out of Turn 4, forcing Hayes onto the wet grass, where he struggled to stay upright. His gap to the leaders ballooned, but it didn’t matter. There was no one behind and he cruised to the title.He finished with 466 points to 352 for Hayden and 332 for Zemke.Superbike Results:

1. Blake Young (Suzuki)

2. John Hopkins (Suzuki)

3. Larry Pegram (Ducati)

4. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki)

5. Jake Zemke (Suzuki)

6. Geoff May (Buell)

7. Josh Hayes (Yamaha)

8. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki)

9. Trent Gibson (Suzuki)

10. Jeff Wood (Suzuki)

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.