This was as close to anybody got to Josh Herrin (2) as he leads Jake Gagne (hidden), Sean Dylan Kelly (40), Cameron Petersen (45), JD Beach (95) en route to victory on Sunday at Road America. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

It may not have been a walk in the park, but it was definitely a high-speed stroll through the track known as America’s National Park of Speed for Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati’s Josh Herrin on Sunday at Road America.

Herrin stormed away at the start of the 12-lap race and was never threatened. The chasing pack kept the gap in the two-second range for a few laps, but then the margin just steadily grew exponentially until it got to the 10-second mark. The Ducati Panigale V4 R was in its element on the high-speed track and Herrin was enjoying every minute of it.

At the completion of the 12 laps, Herrin was a tick over nine seconds clear of the chasing pack. It was his first win of what has been a difficult season thus far for the 2013 Superbike Champion. It was also the 11th Superbike win of his career, which ties him for 18th on the all-time Superbike win list with Anthony Gobert.

The chasing pack was hectic and consisted of four – Wrench Motorcycles’ Bobby Fong, Tytlers Cycle Racing’s JD Beach, TopPro Racing’s Sean Dylan Kelly and Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati’s Loris Baz.

Kelly did most of the leading in second place, but Fong was on a mission and riding hard to make up for an obvious speed disadvantage with his Yamaha YZF-R1 against the BMW M 1000 RRs of Kelly and Beach. Baz, meanwhile, also had a fast bike but couldn’t go farther forward until the last lap.

It was on the last lap and the run to the final corner and the dash up the hill that the pack lost Kelly, with his BMW faltering as it was stuck in fifth gear. He would finish but it would be in sixth and not the second place he was fighting for. Fong ended up a well-deserved second with Beach third, less than half a second behind the Yamaha on the run to the flag. Then came Baz just a few 10ths behind.

Attack Performance/Progressive/Yamaha Racing’s Jake Gagne passed Kelly for fifth with the Floridian nursing the bike up the hill to sixth. Gagne’s ride had been mostly lonely.

Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Brandon Paasch was seventh after beating his fill-in teammate Xavi Forés by just .013 of a second. FLO4LAW Racing’s Benjamin Smith and Team Brazil’s Danilo Lewis rounded out the top 10.

After three rounds and seven races in the Steel Commander Superbike Championship, Gagne leads the injured Cameron Beaubier by 18 points, 113-95, with the five-time Superbike Championship expected to miss at least the next round with the broken heel he suffered in Saturday’s crash at Road America.

Fong jumps to third in the title chase, 25 points behind Gagne and just seven behind Beaubier. Saturday’s race winner Cameron Petersen is fourth in the championship after his Yamaha YZF-R1 suffered a terminal illness that took the South African out of race two after just six laps.

Kelly is tied with Petersen for fourth and fortunate he could nurse the BMW to the finish line. The pair are 30 points behind Gagne and four points ahead of Herrin, who obviously gained tons of ground with his first victory of the year.

Superbike Race Two

  1. Josh Herrin (Ducati)
  2. Bobby Fong (Yamaha)
  3. JD Beach (BMW)
  4. Loris Baz (Ducati)
  5. Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
  6. Sean Dylan Kelly (BMW)
  7. Brandon Paasch (Suzuki)
  8. Xavi Forés (Suzuki)
  9. Benjamin Smith (Yamaha)
  10. Danilo Lewis (BMW)

Quotes

Josh Herrin – Winner

“Obviously, no Superbike win is ever easy,” Herrin said. “The guys gave me a great bike today. I had a great bike yesterday, but I’m just terrible in the rain on it. This one feels extra special, but the laps just kept clicking. I just felt super good. I was in a rhythm. I didn’t think about anybody behind me once, until three laps to go and I saw plus nine. I just couldn’t believe it. It was just a magical moment, for sure. It was one of those ones that you can’t explain, and you don’t really know why it happened. I mean, I know I had a great bike and I felt great, and I’ve been putting in the work, but it never comes that easy. I just want to thank the entire Warhorse HSBK Racing team for all the hard work that they do. I’m happy because the last race in New Jersey last year was really tough, and then we went to Road Atlanta, and I was leading and got ran off the track. Then I had a rain race that I sucked in again. Barber was terrible. Yesterday was terrible. So, it’s been a really hard six, seven, eight months, somewhere around there. I’m happy to be back up here. I told the guys, if we have two years on this bike it will make a huge difference. We were showing that in Atlanta, just with the way that we’re able to start Friday and be there right away. It just helps a lot with your confidence. This weekend told the same story. I’m really grateful for the opportunity and just really happy to be with the same team for three years in a row. I have a lot of fun with these guys. It’s really rare. I’ve been doing this for 19 years and this is the third time that I’ve felt like this in 19 years. One was with Graves. One was with Richard (Stanboli) in ’18, and now this team. It doesn’t happen very often that you get the full package, and right now we have it. I’m super happy. I’m bummed that Cam (Beaubier) wasn’t out there. I’m hoping that he has a speedy recovery because I know he for sure would have been there. I’m sure he’ll be back soon and fast. Brainerd is going to be tough, for sure. I’m ready and excited and just grateful for this.”

Bobby Fong – Second Place

“It was a hard-fought race,” Fong said. “It was me and Dylan (Sean Dylan Kelly) putting in our licks. I had to be smart. They had a little bit of horsepower and I had to get a run on him on each straightaway. I would back up a little bit going into the turns and try to come out with him just to stay as close as I could in the draft. I saw JD (Beach) pass me and I thought maybe (Loris) Baz was going to get in there and make some moves. I had to counter and counter fast just to keep my position. Now we’ve moved up in third in the championship and a little bit closer to (Jake) Gagne. Our goal is to be top Yamaha. It’s a bummer that (Cameron) Beaubier was out. Obviously, he was pretty dominant all weekend. Hopefully, he’s back soon because he was the standard all weekend.”

JD Beach – Third Place

“It’s hard,” Beach said. “I want to be pumped about this, but I feel like we’re still so far off right now. It’s not from a lack of trying from the team or myself. We’re just missing something, and I know once we get it, we’ll be right there. I guess it’s nice that I’m not pumped about a third, but in all honesty, it is great to be up here and to be third. I want to be fighting with Josh (Herrin) and Cameron (Beaubier) and the guys at the front. I’m glad we took a big step forward from Barber. That was a hard weekend. We’ll just keep fighting and we’ll keep working. We’ve still got a lot of races to go. There’s no quitting, so we’ll just keep going.”

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