LEXINGTON, OHIO, JULY 14 - Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Hayes took the pole position at the one track where he didn't last year, extending his championship lead by a point over a struggling Blake Young, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider who qualified eighth on an overcast day at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Unlike in the Daytona Sportbike class, where times didn't improve, Hayes was able to lower his Superbike lap time to a 1:25.364 to take his seventh pole of the year. The time was not only better than the 1:25.615 that he'd run to take Friday's provisional pole, but it was .402 of a second clear of the second fastest rider, National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Lee Hayden and his 1:25.766.
Hayes said he spent most of the session doing laps to prepare for any conditions. There was a slight drizzle in qualifying in the Keyhole and if it starts to rain he wants to be prepared.
"Do I want to see the first drop of rain hit my visor and freak out and stop and just let everybody go by? Not necessarily," he said. "I want to be prepared for whatever it might be. I want to know how much water, moisture does it take before the track gets back and so that's why I spent most of my time out there on the race track seeing that. But we have a decent idea what it'll be in sunny conditions. It was a bit warmer yesterday."
Would he race in the rain?
"I honestly, I don't see how we could," he said. "Right now, unfortunately, every corner has four different surfaces that we have to get through in each because it's got three or four different types of seal, it looks like, and the pavement surface, and every one of them offers a different grip level. It's been a challenge in the dry. So it's hard to say. I don't think so."
Going into today's Superbike race, Hayes leads Young, 321-283.
Hayes' teammate Josh Herrin improved his time slightly to 1:25.903, putting him third on the front row in front of Attack Performance Kawasaki's Steve Rapp, who was on the front row for the first time this year. Rapp kept his front row spot on the strength of his Friday time.
Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing's Larry Pegram (1:26.103) put his BMW S 1000RR on the row two pole in his home race. Next to him are Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom, Team Amsoil/Hero EBR's Geoff May (1:26.279) and Young, eighth overall after being fifth fastest on Friday.
AMA Mid-Ohio Superbike Qualifying:
1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:25.364
2. Roger Hayden (Suzuki) 1:25.766
3. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 1:25.903
4. Steve Rapp (Kawasaki) 1:25.989
5. Larry Pegram (BMW) 1:26.103
6. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki) 1:26.110
7. Geoff May (EBR) 1:26.279
8. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:26.297
9. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki) 1:27.081
10. David Anthony (Suzuki) 1:27.159