MILLVILLE, NJ, SEPT 3 –
Monster Energy Yamaha's Josh Hayes took the final pole position of the year and closed the points gap to four in advance of this afternoon's penultimate AMA Pro Road Racing Superbike race at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, New Jersey.The reigning national champion was the only rider on the front row to improve his time, and the rider who it most mattered to. Hayes arrived in New Jersey trailing Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Blake Young by five points, 311 to 306, but cut the gap to four with the pole point. Hayes kept the championship close by taking pole in all but one race, earning seven points.
"I think the today was just...we really didn't change much," Hayes said. "It's about what I was capable of doing yesterday. Had a couple of good laps going. It's been really, really difficult in qualifying for to find a clear lap and be able to get around clean. I got one little run earlier that was OK and I went out and thought I could improve on it and struggled with the track again and finding some people on the track that made it tough."My bike's working good. Everybody's a little off of what they were last year and I feel like I'm on that pace if not a touch faster. I'm just having a lot of fun riding around on the motorcycle. I feel, considering the championship deal, I probably feel less pressure than I've ever felt being in championship contention before. So I'm having a good time riding around there."Young struggled from the outset and ended up seventh on the grid on the second row. That means he'll have to fight to keep Hayes in sight. Given their qualifying positions, it's a certainty that the championship won't be decided until Sunday's final race.With under three minutes remaining Hayes, who'd dominated the session, set his fast lap of 1:20.711 mins. for the 2.25-mile, 14-turn track. The lap was not only faster than Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Tommy Hayden had gone to to take the provisional pole, but well faster than Hayden was going in the session. Hayden couldn't match his Friday time of 1:21.005 mins. and had to settle for second on the front row.Next to Hayden were two other riders who didn't improve on Saturday.
Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom qualified third and Roger Lee Hayden fourth. Hayden crashed his National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000 at the end of qualifying trying to avoid San Diego BMW's Jeremy Toye, who wasn't at full speed.Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing's Larry Pegram did improve his time and ended up fifth. Attack Racing/Cycle World Kawasaki's Steve Rapp was sixth, though his session ended prematurely with a crash in his first ride on the bike. Young was seventh and a second off Hayes' pace heading into the most important race of the season. KTM HMC Racing's Chris Fillmore filled out the second row.Superbike Qualifying: 1. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:20.711
2. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 1:21.005
3. Ben Bostrom (Suzuki) 1:21.119
4. Roger Lee Hayden (Suzuki) 1:21.160
5. Larry Pegram (BMW) 1:21.309
6. Steve Rapp (Kawasaki) 1:21.564
7. Blake Young (Suzuki) 1:21.753
8. Chris Fillmore (KTM) 1:21.865
9. Geoff May (EBR) 1:21.971
10. Pat Clark (Yamaha) 1:22.080