MONTEREY, CA (July 24, 2011) -- The final race of the Red Bull USGP weekend was arguably the best of the event, as AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike rider Tommy Hayden (Rockstar Makita Suzuki) spun out 23 laps that were a perfect mix of patience and aggression. Taking the win over Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Hayes, Hayden lofted his third first-place trophy of the season in front of his well-known father, Earl Hayden, even more famous brothers, Nicky and Roger, and thousands of cheering Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca fans.
"We were going pretty fast," said Tommy; "it definitely wasn't an easy pace. Once he took his rhythm, I just settled in and followed him around for a while. The last lap was obviously pretty intense -- I couldn't have crossed over by more than an inch or something [on the last pass], then I got it picked up and just tried to hold him off. I think I'm maybe fighting a little harder at the end [in recent races]; being a little more aggressive. I feel like I had the speed all year -- like I could have easily won five or six races this year -- so I'm just going to go to New Jersey and try to keep it going."
Off the start, the race quickly split into a pair of battles, Hayes and Tommy Hayden fighting over first while Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Blake Young and National Guard Jordan Suzuki's Roger Hayden tore through a contest for third. M4 Suzuki's Martin Cardenas was bringing up the chase pack in fifth when he flew off into the gravel after just a handful of laps, reentering the race in tenth. Up front, Hayes continued to lead lap after lap while stalked by Tommy Hayden, while Roger tried desperately to find a way past Young for third.
As Jordan Suzuki's Ben Bostrom moved up to assume the fifth-place spot, the riders behind him began to spread out, with the exception of ERB's Geoff May, who refused to let go of Y.E.S./Pat Clark/Graves Yamaha Chris Clark. With eight laps to go there came a change toward the front, as Roger Hayden slid up the inside to take third from Young.
With five laps to go -- as Cardenas sailed past May and began gunning for Clark -- Tommy capitalized on a mistake from Hayes in the Corkscrew and regained the lead as the duo exited the world-famous track feature. Holding the Yamaha rider off through the next three laps, Tommy took the white flag while threading through traffic. Hayes wasn't ready to concede defeat, however, taking the lead back oh-so-briefly and then trying again in the race's final turn. Slicing across Hayes' front wheel, Tommy slammed the door on the defending champ and tore across the finish line, taking the win by .233 seconds.
"I really thought that if I could get up to top of Turn 5 ahead of him, I had a pretty good shot," said Hayes. "But out of the Corkscrew he got a little gap on me, and I tried to get the best drive I could, but at that point it was pretty much his race once we got in the last turn. I tried really hard, but I came out second today."
The margin that would decide Tommy's brother's race fate was even narrower: Roger Hayden and Young charged the finish side-by-side, Young suddenly diving a wheel forward to claim third by .045. "Roger rode a very good race," said Young; "he definitely didn't give it to me at all. On the last lap I thought he might be a little defensive and ride the inside line of the last turn, like is pretty typical here, and that's what he did. So I just really buried it into the turn pretty deep, got it squared up, and I think he got a little bit of a wheelie that slowed his drive. And with that, I ended up bringing home the third."
Behind Roger Hayden, Bostrom, Larry Pegram (Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing), Steve Rapp (San Diego BMW), Cardenas, Clark, and May rounded out the top ten.
Today's race results have narrowed the points margin between championship leader Young and runner-up Hayes to five, 311 to 306. Tommy Hayden's win boosts his points tally to 263. Hayden's expressed determination to keep collecting wins promoted a smiling Young to quip, "I'm glad I have a teammate and [Hayes] doesn't." The broadcast of today's AMA Pro action airs tonight at 8 p.m. PST/11 p.m. EST on SPEED.
The AMA Pro Road Racing Championship next travels to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Red Bull Indy GP August 27-28, where the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 class will represent the series. For AMA Pro's remaining classes, the season will culminate at New Jersey Motorsports Park September 2-4, where the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike, Daytona SportBike, and Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport East Coast Division Championships will be decided.
For Red Bull Indy GP tickets and information, visit www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com or call (800) 822-INDY. For New Jersey Motorsports Park tickets and information, visit www.njmp.com or call (856) 327-8000. To be a part of the AMA Pro Road Racing Championship, visit www.amaproracing.com and join us on facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing and twitter.com/AMAProSBK.