LEXINGTON, OHIO, JULY 16 -Tommy Hayden put the full attention of the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team to good use by narrowly earning the American Superbike provisional pole late on a warm Friday afternoon at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.Hayden was expected to be joined by Australian Superbike Champion Josh Waters this weekend as a replacement for Blake Young, who suffered a broken vertebra in a testing crash at Barber Motorsports Park. Then Waters had his own testing crash, the Australian suffering a concussion and punctured lung during a shakedown run at Willow Springs. Waters has been ruled out of this weekend, but is hopeful of making his AMA race debut on the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix undercard at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.So Hayden was the lone team representative and he represented it well. Hayden lapped the 2.4-mile road course in 1:25.637 mins., well over the track record lap of 1:24.139 turned in by Ben Spies in 2007. The time was also just .008 secs. faster than the lap turned in by Team Graves Yamaha's Josh Hayes. Hayden and Hayes (1:25.649) were the only two riders in the slim, 16-rider field to lap below 1:26."The first half of the session we didn't go very well," Hayden said. "I guess we learned something, we know what direction to go in for tomorrow. I didn't make the gains I had hoped, so we went back to the original setup from the morning with a few changes. Went out and found my rhythm pretty quick then. Some decent times, I don't remember where I was, third or fourth. Towards the end I came in, got a new tire and just tried to find some clear track and put my head down for a couple of laps to see what I could do."Mid-Ohio marked the start of the second half of the season following a six week break. Hayden ended the first half with a win in the second race at Road America and started the second half ready to keep rolling."I felt pretty good straight away today," he said. "It didn't really seem like I felt the layoff that much. We went and rode one day last week at Willow for that reason, to make sure we didn't get rusty or anything. I'm sure that didn't hurt anything and I felt good straight away today. I'm pretty happy with my bike now. We did good at Road America, went to Barber, had a good test there and it's pretty similar to the setups we had there so I have a good feeling for it and I'm pretty comfortable. At Willow I went faster than I've ever been there, and then here the same so hopefully it continues."The second half starts with Hayden leading Team Graves Yamaha's Josh Hayes by a single point, 229 to 228. His consistency has been impressive, but he knows he needs to do more if he's going to take his first Superbike title."It's encouraging, I know for sure it's going to take me winning some races if I'm going to win the championship," he said. "I know that, and we're off to an OK start. I don't know what the difference is. It's pretty much a tie, my name's ahead of his for now and we're pretty close. I'm sure it's going to be a battle like we had at Road America and several other places this year and probably along with some other guys too. It's cool to be ahead, more importantly a point. When you're one point apart those points mean a lot more."As for the attention of being the lone rider, Hayden joked, "It's a lot quieter in the truck. Nah, it's really not a lot different. We both kind of do our own thing. It doesn't seem a whole lot different really. When we're talking tires sometimes it's good for the crew chiefs to talk to each other and see what the other person has learned, what they're doing. We don't have that luxury here this weekend, but that's the way it is and we'll have to make it work."Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing's Larry Pegram (Duc) was half a second down in third and only .005 secs. quicker than Pat Clark Motorsports' Ben Bostrom (Yam).The provisional second row was split between two Suzuki teams. Jordan Suzuki's Brett McCormick, riding in place of the injured Aaron Yates, was fifth and .050 secs. in front of National Guard Suzuki's Jake Zemke. Zemke had a mere .008 secs. on M4 Monster Energy Suzuki's Jake Holden, with teammate Chris Ulrich half a second slower.Canadian Jordan Szoke (Waznie Racing Ciclo Werks BMC Dewildt Honda) came south to collect the ninth fastest time and only slightly faster than Cycle World Attack Performance Yoshimura Suzuki's Eric Bostrom. This was Bostrom's first AMA Superbike race since he finished sixth in the final race of the 2008 season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The other two riders on row three are Taylor Knapp (Ridersdiscount.com Suzuki) and Geoff May (Erik Buell Racing).The final four riders were Kurtis Roberts, also riding for Ridersdiscount.com, but on a Yamaha, Chris Clark on the second Pat Clark Motorsports Yamaha, Johnny Rock Page (Aussie Dave Racing Suzuki) and Greg Fryer (FJ Racing Yamaha).

Results:

1. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 1:25.637

2. Josh Hayes (Yamaha) 1:25.648

3. Larry Pegram (Ducati) 1:26.179

4. Ben Bostrom (Yamaha) 1:26.184

5. Brett McCormick (Suzuki) 1:26.435

6. Jake Zemke (Suzuki) 1:26.485

7. Jake Holden (Suzuki) 1:26.493

8. Chris Ulrich (Suzuki) 1:27.021

9. Jordan Szoke (Honda) 1:27.332

10. Eric Bostrom (Suzuki) 1:27.383

AMA Pro Racing Headlines

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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