DiSalvo (40) will look to regain early season form while Cardenas (36) and Hayes can afford to fight for wins. DiSalvo (40) will look to regain early season form while Cardenas (36) and Hayes can afford to fight for wins. Courtesy AMA Pro Racing/Brian J. Nelson

Titles still in play at AMA finale

Written by  on Thursday, 04 October 2012 10:37

NEW ORLEANS, La. - The 2012 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing season concludes this weekend in New Orleans with the Triumph Big Kahuna New Orleans presented by Dunlop Tire and LeoVince. The series will conclude the season at the new 2.75-mile, 16-turn NOLA Motorsports Park track that the riders gave positive reviews after a test at the facility this summer. The finale promises to be a thrilling conclusion to a hard fought season, one in which two champions have already been crowned but two more remain up for grabs.

Josh Hayes (No. 1 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha R1) wrapped up the championship in Miami, so the third-time Champ returns to his home region as a conquering hero. Hayes, from Gulfport, Miss., has dominated the 2012 AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike season but saw his consecutive race win streak broken in Race 1 at Homestead-Miami Speedway last month. He responded by winning his 14th race of the year on Sunday. It has been a record-breaking season for Hayes, who has now claimed 30 National Guard SuperBike wins since 2009.

With the championship decided, Hayes can go for broke in New Orleans without concerns for managing a points lead. Yamaha's leading man was also fastest at the NOLA test, laying down a time of 1:39.282.

Blake Young (No. 79 Yoshimua Suzuki GSX-R1000) has won three races this year and finished on the podium numerous times and has nearly 100 points on the third place man in the championship, but the Wisconsin native is disappointed not to have beaten Hayes more this season after winning more races than his rival in 2011. Young will have two more chances to top Hayes this year in New Orleans and will no doubt be pushing very hard; he was second quickest at the NOLA test.

Josh Herrin's races in New Orleans are in doubt after the young rider injured himself in a training accident over the weekend. Herrin (No. 2 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha R1) hurt his shoulder and could miss the races, although there is no doubt he will want to ride to secure third place points for the year in his rookie SuperBike season.

Roger Hayden (No. 54 National Guard Suzuki GSXR-1000) won in Miami for National Guard Jordan Suzuki, marking a significant triumph for a rider who has been trying for years to break onto the SuperBike winner's list.

One rider looking to put the bookend on a solid season is Team Amsoil/Hero's Geoff May. Riding the trick American-made EBR, May (No.99 Amsoil/Hero EBR 1190RS) is fifth in points and led in tough conditions in Miami.

Martin Cardenas (No. 36 GEICO Suzuki GSX-R600) secured his second-career AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike crown last time out at Homestead-Miami Speedway. With the title already taken care of, look for Cardenas to race at the maximum in pursuit of the checkered flags this weekend.

Dane Westby (No. 5 M4 Suzuki GSX-R600), meanwhile, may be looking over his shoulder just a bit. Currently ranked second in the points and aiming to secure a final runner-up ranking in the season's tally, Cameron Beaubier (No. 6 Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha YZF-R6) has been coming on fast. Westby has a fairly comfortable 22-point advantage for the position heading into NOLA Motorsports Park, but Beaubier's stunning form over the season's second half makes that padding feel somewhat less comfortable than it otherwise might.

Jason DiSalvo (No. 40 Latus Motors Racing Triumph Daytona 675) would like to end an uneven season on a high note after making a stirring charge to the podium in the season opener at Daytona and scoring a head-turning win in Sonoma.

The AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport races in New Orleans will determine three different tiles - the Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport West and East division winners, and the overall Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Champion, will be crowned here this weekend. The races are a combined event, meaning riders in both divisions will score points. The National Champ will be the divisional rider with the highest point total at the end of the weekend.

James Rispoli (No. 1 Orient Express/Celtic Racing Suzuki GSX-R600) is knocking on the door of his second overall crown. Rispoli leads by 60 over Hayden Gillim (No. 69 RoadRace Factory/Red Bull Yamaha YZF-R6) and needs just three points to clinch the West crown. The New Yorker will likely clinch on Saturday, as he has a 50-point lead over closest rival Dustin Dominguez (No. 68 Latus Motors Racing Triumph 675R).

Things are much more certain in the East. Dominguez leads Jake Lewis (No. 85 Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki GSX-R600) by eight points with the two races in New Orleans to go. Lewis led the way early, but Dominguez found more speed and consistency as the summer heated up. The East title would be a big accomplishment for either up-and-coming racer.

The AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series championship comes down to one final shootout. Just two points separate the top two in the XR Showdown with third only another six points back.

Michael Barnes (No. 34 KLR Group/Spyke's Harley-Davidson) made his move at his home race last time out, scoring a dramatic, last-lap victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The clutch win allowed 'Barney' to leapfrog from fourth in the standings to first with just the finale to be waged.

Tyler O'Hara (No. 29 Bartel's Harley-Davidson) is a close second; if either man wins this weekend's finale, he will be named the champion no matter where the other finishes or how the bonus points shake down.

Benjamin Carlson (No. 45 Suburban Harley-Davidson) has made a big push for the title since the opening of the XR Showdown at Indianapolis and is still in with a real shot heading into New Orleans. Michael Corbino (No. 15 Rossiter's Harley-Davidson of Sarasota) is the final competitor who still has a mathematical possibility of walking away with the XR Showdown triumph although the odds are stacked heavily against him.

SPEED will air the National Guard SuperBike and GoPro Daytona SportBike races in a set of back-to-back broadcasts. Saturday's race finals will begin at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT on Sunday, October 7 and Sunday's races will be broadcast beginning at 12:00 midnight ET/9:00 p.m. PT late Sunday night. 

SPEED2 will stream the Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport and Vance & Hines XR1200 Series races live, fans can watch by logging onto http://www.speed2.com.

--From AMA Pro Racing

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John Hopkins

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