For an organization with a reputation of being in the grey area more times than not when it comes to rules and rule enforcement, AMA Pro Racing sure picked a lousy time to be black and white.
If I were a fan with a plan of heading to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the final round of the AMA Superbike Series, I’d be really bummed that there’s no longer a championship fight to witness. If I watched the TV coverage of the first of two AMA Superbike races from New Jersey Motorsports Park to see why, I’d be really pissed. Yes, it appears as though Josh Hayes jumped the start – but he did so by about an inch. Maybe two. Did he gain an advantage on the rest of the field? Hell no. In fact, Hayes didn’t even come close to getting to turn one first. He wasn’t even in the top three.
What he was, however, was five seconds behind. That’s the penalty for jumping the start these days in the AMA Superbike class. Five seconds. And Hayes’s five-second penalty carried over to the re-start after the first attempt at running the race was thwarted by a red flag to clean up oil on the racetrack.
While it took Hayes a good portion of the race to work his way around his rivals, once he did he pulled away to win by 1.74 seconds. But factor in the penalty and he was fourth, 3.2 seconds behind. And instead of ending the weekend with 310 points to Herrin’s 315 and thus setting up the sort of championship finale that makes most sanctioning bodies and promoters salivate, we now get to go to Laguna and watch Josh Herrin tiptoe around in 10th place or better to earn his first AMA Superbike Championship. For Herrin this is good. For Hayes this is bad. For the rest of us… well, wake me when it’s over. I’ll watch it on my DVR when I get home… Oops, that’s right. I won’t. The DVR doesn’t pick up what’s not there.
And before you go thinking that I have a dog in this fight, I don’t. It matters not to me if Herrin or Hayes is crowned as the series champion… but I’m a fan at heart so I would have liked the opportunity to at least have a final round with some drama. And I’m pretty sure Laguna Seca might have been able to sell a few extra tickets if the title was still up for grabs. Heck, from a business standpoint maybe we would have had more people read our website over the course of the weekend because of their interest in AMA Superbike racing. Maybe more people would have read the digital issue on the Monday after the race. Oops, there I go looking at the big picture again.
Thank God there’s World Superbike at Laguna Seca. And with wild card Americans to boot.
To read the rest of this week's Carruthers Says, click here