Photography by Andrea Wilson
DAYTONA BEACH, FL, MAR. 15 - There were two battles during final qualifying for this afternoon’s opening round of the AMA Superbike Championship – Josh Hayes vs. the clock and everyone else vs. each other for second place.
Hayes won his battle, clocking a 1:37.096 to eclipse his pole position qualifying time from a year ago to earn the first pole position of the season while garnering the first championship point of the year. And his teammate Josh Herrin won the other battle, coming out second best to Hayes on the number two Monster Energy Graves Yamaha, but with his 1:37.826 enough to beat out the rest in a battle that truly seems to be for second place.
Hayes had hoped to get into the 1:36s, but came up just short en route to his 24th career Superbike pole.
“It was a good session. Everything went pretty smoothly. I started out riding on my tire from yesterday. I think I’d done 12 or 13 laps on it yesterday so with four or five laps more than race distance I was still able to get 37.6 out of. That’s actually pretty good since it sat overnight. I don’t think the tires cycle but this morning it was pretty good. I got a fresh one and was able to improve my time. I didn’t quite get to the 36s like I wanted, but I was pretty happy with how it went. I actually tried something with the bike for the last couple of laps until the red flag and it has some things I like about it and some things that I don’t so I think we’ll probably revert back to what we know for the race and maybe work on it again in the morning. And maybe improve our bike a little bit for Saturday’s race.”
Herrin ended up in the 1:37s for the first time, but was still .730 of a second behind Hayes. Still, the two R1s were the only bikes in the 37s as Roger Lee Hayden put the first Suzuki in third, the National Guard-backed GSX-R1000 rider putting in a best of 1:38.135.
The front row for this afternoon’s first of two AMA Superbike races will filled by Yoshimura Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas, the Colombian lapping at a best of 1:38.501.
Row two will be headed by Danny Eslick, the Michael Jordan Motorsports rider crashing in the waning moments of the session on the exit of the chicane. The crash brought out the red flag, bringing out the red flag with just a few minutes remaining in the session.
Foremost Insurance-backed Larry Pegram will join Eslick on row two with those two joined by the second Yoshimura Suzuki of Chris Clark and the Team Hero EBR of Geoff May.
Aussie David Anthony and Amsoil EBR’s Aaron Yates rounded out the top 10 qualifiers.
Final Superbike Qualifying
1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:37.096
2. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 1:37.826
3. Roger Lee Hayden (Suzuki) 1:38.135
4. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) 1:38.501
5. Danny Eslick (Suzuki) 1:38.511
6. Larry Pegram (Yamaha) 1:38.601
7. Chris Clark (Suzuki) 1:39.547
8. Geoff May (EBR) 1:39.592
9. David Anthony (Suzuki) 1:40.069
10. Aaron Yates (EBR) 1:40.443