NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, OCT 5 - Wrapping up his third consecutive AMA Superbike championship hasn't slowed down Josh Hayes.

The Monster Energy Graves Yamaha rider ran roughshod over the Superbike field in the first ever motorcycle qualifying session at NOLA Motorsports Park, the firsttime AMA Superbike facility just across the Mississippi River from the city of New Orleans that's about 80 miles from his hometown of Gulfport, Miss. This being the first official qualifying session, Hayes set a new track record of 1:39.443 secs. for his lap of the 2.75-mile, 16-turn road course.

Though he already has the Superbike title in his pocket, Hayes can continue to set records for poles and race wins in this weekend's Triumph Big Kahuna Nationals. The three-time champion comes into the weekend with a single season record 14 Superbike wins and nine of ten pole positions.

And his early pace proves that he's ready to add another pole; his lap was just under a second faster than second quickest Roger Hayden (National Guard Jordan Suzuki), the only other rider to take a pole this year. Hayden can move up to third in the championship in the absence of Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Herrin. Herrin was injured in a training accident and won't be racing. Currently he has a 14 point lead on Hayden, who can easily erase that in Saturday's race.

Yoshimura Suzuki's Blake Young is second in the championship and untouchable. His gap to third is over 96 points with only 63 up for grabs. Young finished .019 sec. behind Hayden today.

Team Hero's Danny Eslick was a close fourth just in front of Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom.

Larry Pegram was sixth on the Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing BMW, with Robertino Pietri seventh on the Team Venezuela Suzuki.

AMA Superbike New Orleans Superbike Qualifying:

1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:39.943
2. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 1:40.941
3. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:40.962
4. Danny Eslick (EBR) 1:41.159
5. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki) 1:41.175
6. Larry Pegram (BMW) 1:41.665
7. Roberto Pietri (Suzuki) 1:41.806
8. Geoff May (EBR) 1:42.078
9. Chris Fillmore (KTM) 1:42.238
10. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki) 1:42.474

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.

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