PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREA WILSON
MONTEREY, CA, JULY 21 - Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes was simply immaculate today in winning his sixth AMA Superbike race of the season, the defending three-time champion taking the lead in turn one at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and never looking back. By the end of the 23-lap race, Hayes was 7.8 seconds clear and that was after slowing in the final laps.
It was a perfect day for the Graves Yamaha team as Hayes topped his teammate Josh Herrin, the junior member of the team holding off Yoshimura Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas in the closing stages. The team had finished one-two earlier in the day in the Daytona SportBike final with Cameron Beaubier beating his teammate Garrett Gerloff. It was a pretty good day for the men in blue.
The race for the lead was never in doubt and especially so once National Guard Suzuki’s Roger Lee Hayden dropped out of the race on the 12th lap. This was after the youngest of the Hayden clan had worked hard to get around Herrin, who was thwarting him in his attempt to make any ground on Hayes. Once he got past Herrin, Hayden set sail and he held the gap at 5.3 seconds to Hayes for three laps before starting to lose ground. At the start of the 12th lap, Hayden ran wide in turn two and then started a slow ride back to the pits where he and the team started looking at the front end of the GSX-R1000. He was out of the race as his tough luck of late continues to hamper Hayden.
That left Cardenas to try and find a way around Herrin, but try as he might the Colombian couldn’t make it happen. On the final lap the Suzuki rider got balked by lap traffic and any hope of a last-corner move went out the window.
The battle for fourth heated up in the final stages when the factory KTMs of Taylor Knapp and Chris Fillmore caught up to Michael Jordan Motorsports’ Danny Eslick. On the 16th lap, however, Knapp crashed out of fifth and Eslick would manage to control the advances of Fillmore. Still, the fifth-place finish was a high watermark for Fillmore on the season on the KTM.
Then came another battle for sixth with EBR’s Geoff May and Aaron Yates passing and pulling away from Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing’s Larry Pegram to battle to the flag. May got the best of Yates with the pair of EBRs finishing sixth and seventh.
Pegram ended up eighth with Cory West riding another EBR to ninth after getting the best of Aussie Dave Anthony in the closing laps.
1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha)
2. Josh Herrin (Yamaha)
3. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki)
4. Danny Eslick (Suzuki)
5. Chris Fillmore (KTM)
6. Geoff May (EBR)
7. Aaron Yates (EBR)
8. Larry Pegram (Yamaha)
9. Cory West (EBR)
10. David Anthony (Suzuki)