Hayes Pulls Off Exciting Final Round at NJMP
NEWS September 6, 2009
Hayes won his fourth straight and seventh overall AMA Pro American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited race of the year and moved to second in the series' championship after winning the Saturday final, locking down the runner-up position in Sunday's season-ending race.
For the second-straight day, Hayes had a classic battle with recently crowned 2009 American Superbike Champion Mat Mladin (No. 1 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000). This time Mladin's teammate Tommy Hayden(No. 22 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) was also in the mix with each rider taking turns up front before Hayes took the lead for good on Lap 15. The race saw seven official at-the-line lead changes between the three riders with the total more than doubling when multiple lead swaps within a lap were taken into account.
"It was one of those deals where I just tried to keep myself close to the front," Hayes said. "I rode as hard as I could the whole race. I had to keep putting together good laps to see if I could keep the pressure on. The Yamaha was great. It was a great bike to ride this weekend. I'm really proud of how the end of the season has come around. Congratulations to Mat on his career. Like I said on the podium, I only hope that I can achieve half of what he's done in his career."
Mladin was making his final American Superbike start in a record-setting career and raced true to form before gearbox issues emerged in the later part of the race. Mladin is retiring with an unmatched total of seven AMA Pro American Superbike championships and a record 82 career victories.
"Today was a really good race," Mladin said. "I felt pretty good for most of it. I really didn't want to be in second place and I was trying to lead and was doing as much as I could from the front. We put it in as much as we could. About 10 laps to go, I couldn't get the thing in fifth gear. I had to go straight through to sixth and in the end we just couldn't keep up."
Hayes crossed the finish line 2.254 seconds ahead Mladin while Aaron Yates (No. 23 Brand Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) was third for the second straight day. Mladin passed Yates on the last lap to take second.
"It feels really good to be up here and finish the year out with a few decent finishes," said Yates, who posted his sixth podium finish of the season. "Racing with Josh and Mat, it feels good to be up here and running with them. Mat definitely wasn't joking about it not getting into fifth gear back there. It was twice running up through the bridge there that we got pretty close. I thought I was going to run right over him or into him. I got by Mat on the front straight and he came by me on that last lap, came up beside me, got on the brakes and I thought he was done, then he just slipped off to the inside."
Three-time 2009 race winner Larry Pegram (No. 72 Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing Ducati 1098R) finished fourth to improve on Saturday's fifth place showing while Neil Hodgson (No. 100 Corona Extra Honda CBR1000RR) had his best result since finishing second in the Daytona opener to round out the top five.
Pegram jumped to fourth in the final American Superbike standings with 347 points, one spot behind Hayden, who locked down third with 373 points. Hayden stepped up to challenge Hayes in the closing laps of the race but was uninjured when he lowsided after just taking the lead a little under three laps from the finish.
"I really wanted to win a race before the year was over and I wanted to try and get second in the championship, and I knew that one would take care of the other," Hayden said. "I just made a little mistake, went in a corner a little too hot and lost the front. It's a shame. On the one hand, I'm bummed and on the other hand, I left it all out there and that was one thing I wanted to make sure and do today. We learned a lot and we're looking forward to next year."
Ben Bostrom (No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) was also uninjured when he lowsided two laps into the race, but he still finished fifth in the final American Superbike championship standings with 333 points.
Sunday's American Superbike final and other action from the New Jersey AMA Pro Superbike Championships can be seen in late-night coverage tonight on SPEED tonight at 12:30 a.m. ET (9:30 p.m. PT).
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