Millville, NJ, September 4, 2011 - As a fitting conclusion to one of AMA Pro Racing's most exciting seasons, the Yamaha U.S. Road Racing Teams had one of its most successful and memorable weekends ever in American motorsports competition.
Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha rider Josh Hayes dramatically and successfully defended his American SuperBike Championship aboard his powerful, crossplane-crankshaft YZF-R1® at New Jersey Motorsports Park, the final round of the AMA Pro Racing season.
Coming into the weekend just five points behind in the Championship chase, Josh quickly went to work at making up the deficit. He earned a valuable point for winning the pole in Saturday's qualifying session, which made it a remarkable eight out of nine pole positions won by Josh this season. Then, later on Saturday, Josh won SuperBike race one, and he also earned another bonus point for leading the most laps.
Coming out of Saturday's excitement, Josh turned his 5-point deficit into an 11-point lead by the end of the race day. Commenting on his change of fortunes, Josh said, "I needed to earn maximum points, so my mindset was to work hard to capture the pole, try to lead the most laps, and also win the race. My crew put an awesome bike underneath me, and I was able to build some points in our favor going into Sunday."
Josh participated in the very popular fan track walk on Saturday evening, and the fans had a rare opportunity to hear him talk about his race lines, braking markers, and strategies on the 2.25-mile Lightning race course.
On Sunday, Josh put those insights to the test in what will go down as one of the most exciting American SuperBike races of all time. From start to finish, the race was very much in contention, but never more so than on the final lap. Josh's points lead increased and decreased with practically every one of the 14 turns on the track, and by the time his blue-white-and-black Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha R1 crossed the finish line for the final time, he had captured his second American SuperBike Championship in a row. He finished the day, and the season, five points ahead of his closest competitor, which, ironically, was the polar opposite of where he began the weekend. It was a remarkable turnaround for the Mississippi native and indicative of his unbeatable will to win.
"There were so many things going on in that race," Josh said. "What an 'exhale' it was when I crossed the line. I'm really glad to bring [the Championship] home again. Big thanks go to the entire Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha team for giving me the best bike in the paddock."
"We're all so happy for Josh," said Keith McCarty, Motorsports Racing Division Manager for Yamaha. "He works hard at his racing, and he's a great representative of the Yamaha brand, as well as Monster Energy and Graves Motorsports. Two in a row is quite an accomplishment, especially against such tough competition."
JOSH HERRIN FINISHES DAYTONA SPORTBIKE SEASON ON A HIGH NOTE
The other Josh H. on the Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha team, Josh Herrin, rounded out his Daytona SportBike season with a second-place finish on Saturday, followed by a season-ending win in Sunday's exciting race. Aboard his Yamaha YZF-R6®, Josh earned two bonus points for leading 15 of the 23 laps in Saturday race and all but 4 of the laps in Sunday's season finale. With his win and those two bonus points, Josh only missed out on the Daytona SportBike Championship by just 19 points.
As a testament to how tight-knit the Yamaha U.S. Road Racing Teams are, after Josh's Sunday race win, he gave credit to "the other Josh." "Before the start, I talked to Josh Hayes, and he gave me a little advice. It seemed to work," Josh said. "It's really awesome to have a teammate like that who can help you."
TOMMY AQUINO BREAKS THROUGH WITH BIG-BLUE RESULTS
In a pivotal weekend for Yamaha Extended Service/Pat Clark Motorsports/Graves/Yamaha rider Tommy Aquino, the California native traveled about as far to the east as he could in America to notch his first win in Daytona SportBike competition. Tommy was fast right out of the truck, capturing the pole position in Saturday's qualifying, then winning the race on Saturday over hard-charging teammate Josh Herrin, and fellow Yamaha R6 rider Cameron Beaubier. That finish made it an impressive, all-Yamaha podium.
In Sunday's race, Tommy fought hard for the win again, coming up just short to Josh, with Cameron finishing just off the podium in fourth.
Commenting on his first win in the highly-competitive Daytona SportBike series, Tommy said, "Going into the weekend, I put it in my head that this was the best chance I had to get a win. I've gone well on this track in the past, and I'm so pumped to be able to give this win to my entire Yamaha Extended Service/Pat Clark Motorsports/Graves/Yamaha team."
Tommy finished the season 3rd in the Championship points standings, to give Yamaha two R6s in the top three.
CHRIS CLARK FINISHES STRONG
Tommy's teammate Chris Clark, who rides the Number 2 R1 in American SuperBike for Yamaha Extended Service/Pat Clark Motorsports/Graves/Yamaha, raced to another pair of solid, top-10 finishes. On Saturday, Chris came in 9th, and then he improved upon that result in Sunday's race, coming home in 8th.
GARRETT GERLOFF GIVES YAMAHA A GLIMPSE INTO ITS FUTURE
The youngest member of the Yamaha U.S. Road Racers, Garrett Gerloff just recently turned 16 years old and became eligible to compete in AMA Pro Racing's SuperSport series. Garrett wasted no time in getting up to speed on his Graves Motorsports/Monster Energy/Yamaha R6. The young phenom, who hails from Ben Spies' and Colin Edwards' home state of Texas, hadn't even seen New Jersey Motorsports Park before this weekend, let alone raced on it. Yet, he finished the very first qualifying session of the weekend in first place, and then, he went on to win Saturday's race. On Sunday, Garrett was once again up front and poised for another win. He ultimately finished a still-impressive 2nd to the Championship winner.
In his first AMA Pro Racing press conference, Garrett said, "I'm really happy to be on top for my first Pro race. I have to thank Graves and Yamaha for giving me such a fast R6. After qualifying, I knew I had the pace to run up front." Look for big things from Garrett in 2012.
IN THE GARDEN STATE, EVERYTHING COMES UP ROSES FOR YAMAHA
New Jersey was good to Yamaha's U.S. Road Racing Teams, and the team will look back with much fondness on this past weekend in The Garden State.
Yamaha and all its sponsors, including Monster Energy, Graves Motorsports, Yamaha Extended Service, and Pat Clark Motorsports, send out a big thank you to the many fans who attended the races this year, watched the race telecasts on Speed TV, and read in the media about the team's memorable season. Before we all know it, it will be March 2012 and time to do it all again starting at Daytona International Speedway.