SONOMA, CA, MAY 13 – Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes and Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Tommy Hayden jostled for the top spot in this morning’s first practice session at Infineon Raceway, and they continued to do so in this afternoon’s first qualifying session. While it was Hayden holding the top spot this morning, it was Hayes turning the tables on his rival this afternoon to earn provisional pole for this weekend’s two AMA Superbike races.Hayes led the session early, lost the top spot to Hayden with some 16 minutes to go, then grabbed it back for good with seven minutes and 40 seconds left in the 45-minute session. Hayes best lap, a 1:36.397, was just .112 of a second better than Hayden’s 1:36.509.”Yeah, I’m very fortunate, very fortunate that my crew does such a good job to give me a bike that I know fit and finish is absolutely perfect,” Hayes said. “The bike works the same every time I get on it. And so I’m lucky that I’m confident that I can jump on the motorcycle, I can go out and ride my behind off right from the get-go – no issues and I think it’s definitely a big part of my confidence in getting up to speed quickly, especially when you haven’t seen a racetrack in so long. So it’s a lot of fun to be back here; it definitely feels just a little bit different than last year. It seems like a couple of areas of the race track have changed a little bit. One of the things that happened this morning was we wanted to… it’s been a long season since we’ve been here and over the season we developed a machine in a direction and you work on a lot of things and we wanted to show up with the machine that we developed up to this point and kinda see how our development track had taken us. And hopefully go out there and break the track record in the first session – in a perfect world. But I think that what we found was, we have a good setting for this racetrack that seems to be somewhat only really works here. And our settings from other racetracks don’t necessarily come here and give us the same success that we had with a particular set-up that really works well here.
“So in the first session, I only rode on one tire the entire session. I wasn’t really too worried about it. And it was funny, when I came off the track and Tommy [Hayden] had gotten me by a few tenths, I was like, ah, no big deal. And probably 20 minutes later I was sitting in the track and I’m like, ‘What do you mean it’s no big deal? What are you doing? Get to work.’ So it was pretty important to me to be able to figure out this session and try to get to the front. Got up to speed pretty quickly, as did Tommy. Came in; I got one tire during the session. I only got like maybe two or three clean laps kinda sporadically and tried a few things. And fortunately it was good enough for provisional pole.”Third fastest on a sunny and breezy day in Northern California’s wine country went to Michael Jordan Motorsports’ Ben Bostrom, who grew up close to Infineon Raceway in Petaluma. Bostrom lapped at 1:36.846 and was the last rider in the 1:36s. Team M4 Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas completed the provisional front row with his 1:37.290.Hayden’s Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate Blake Young, the winner of both races at Daytona eight weeks ago, was fifth fastest today with Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing’s Larry Pegram – the first of three BMWs in the top 10. The BMWs of Chris Peris and Steve Rapp, in his debut on the S1000RR, filled the second row provisionally in seventh and eighth, respectively.Australian David Anthony and National Guard Suzuki’s Roger Lee Hayden rounded out the top 10.
Friday Superbike Qualifying
1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:36.397
2. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 1:36.509
3. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki) 1:36.846
4. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) 1:37.390
5. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:37.517
6. Larry Pegram (BMW) 1:37.599
7. Chris Peris (BMW) 1:37.911
8. Steve Rapp (BMW) 1:37.988
9. David Anthony (Suzuki) 1:38.166
10. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 1:38.357