Hayes Dominates, But Herrin Earns Title
MONTEREY, Calif. – Sunday’s AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was the 2013 campaign summed up into a single race.
Three-time series champion Josh Hayes demonstrated his superiority in terms of outright pace en route to scoring his eighth victory of the season in a blowout, but it still wasn’t enough to overcome the consistent excellence of his 23-year-old Monster Energy Graves Yamaha teammate Josh Herrin.
Just as he has all year long, Herrin maximized the opportunities he was given and did exactly what he had to in order to secure his first-career GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing title. While the outgoing champ raced off into the sunset and took the checkered flag by a margin of 13.434 seconds, second-year National Guard SuperBike ace Herrin registered a calculated ride to a clear runner-up result, clinching the ’13 premier-class crown in the process.
Herrin took the title with a final tally of 345 points to Hayes’ 330.
“I think the best word to describe my season is ‘consistency.’ We were real consistent all year,” said Herrin. “At the beginning of the year I wasn’t even thinking about the championship. We got lucky at Daytona, but I figured Josh would come back, and he did. We got lucky at a lot of races, but at the same time we were smart and rode real consistent and it paid off in the end. Overall, it went great.
“This has been a lifelong dream of mine, and it’s finally come true,” Herrin continued. “I can’t even explain the emotions right now. Coming around that last lap, I just filled up with tears. I could barely see where I was going. I’ve never felt that kind of emotion before. It’s crazy the emotions you feel when you achieve something you’ve been waiting to do your whole life.”
On the occasions in which Hayes was able to avoid trouble – whether mechanical issues, jump start penalties, or his crash from the lead in Utah – he proved unstoppable. That was the case again this weekend, as he scooped up all available points and earned his 41st career SuperBike victory. However, the damage was already done, and he was unable to prevent his young teammate from usurping his throne.
“It was a great weekend. This is two good Laguna Secas this year for me,” Hayes said. “I’ve had a great season and I’m proud of the things I’ve accomplished. My statistics are good. I was able to get eight pole positions – I think I’ve gotten all poles except two in three years, which is a pretty amazing run. It’s fun to be fast. And I had a good run of races this year. It’s just when I get it wrong, I really get it wrong apparently.”
Hayes was gracious in defeat, saying, “I really think the story today is Josh [Herrin] winning his #1 plate. He did what he needed to do and when the pressure was on, he stepped up.”
The race for the remaining spot on the podium was drama-laden. Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Martin Cardenas – who carried slim title hopes into this race, as well, pressured Hayes early in the contest but the pace proved too much. The Colombian’s season ended in sparks when he crashed from second while working the race’s second lap.