Hayes Wins Big at Infineon Raceway

Henny Ray Abrams | May 5, 2012

SONOMA, CA, MAY 5 – Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes thrashed the Superbike field on the first race of the Great Clips West Coast Moto Jam at Infineon Raceway. Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Young was second at 10.958 secs. with Danny Eslick giving Erik Buell his first Superbike podium by chasing Young to the finish on his Team Hero EBR.

The tenor of the race had been set in qualifying earlier in the day. Hayes qualified on pole with a gap of .903 sec. to second fastest Roger Hayden (National Guard/Jordan Suzuki). Young crashed in qualifying, finishing sixth fastest. If Hayes kept up the same advantage in the race, no one would see which way he went.

Young tried to hang with Hayes off the start, but it was futile. Within a few laps Hayes had broken him and spent the rest of the 22-lap race clicking off unatchable lap times, many in the 1:36s, and watching his lead grow. It peaked at nearly 12 seconds as Hayes took the white flag and ended at 10.958 secs.

The Superbike win was Hayes’ third of the season, fifth at Infineon Raceway, and 20th lifetime, tying him for fourth all-time with Fred Merkel. Next up is Ben Spies with 28.

Hayes also grew his championship lead to 14 points, 149 to 135 over Young.

Young more than had his hands full with Eslick. Eslick passed Young to take over second on the exit of turn nine on lap 13. Unable to pull away, he knew Young would come back at him and he did, in the same corner on the 16th lap.

Eslick hounded Young to the flag, but the Suzuki rider never put a wheel wrong and finished second. Eslick was a jubilant third, doing a stand-up wheelie across the line to celebrate the team’s first podium. Teammate Geoff May finished fifth behind Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Herrin.

Their positions weren’t in jeopardy at the end. Herrin was comfortably in front of May, who had four seconds on Steve Rapp, the fifth place finisher on the MotorcycleSuperstore.com/Attack Performance Kawasaki.

Rapp was well clear of seventh place finisher Ben Bostrom (Jordan Suzuki), with Kneedraggers.com’s David Anthony eighth.

The last two riders in the top ten were Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing’s Larry Pegram and Hayden, who faded badly after a strong start.

AMA Superbike Results:

1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha)

2. Blake Young (Suzuki)

3. Danny Eslick (EBR)

4. Josh Herrin (Yamaha)

5. Geoff May (EBR)

6. Steve Rapp (Kawasaki)

7. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki)

8. David Anthony (Suzuki)

9. Larry Pegram (BMW)

10. Roger Hayden (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.