If things play out like they have all season long, Jake Gagne will be crowned the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Champion after the second of three HONOS Superbike races at New Jersey Motorsports Park on Sunday morning.
With three HONOS Superbike races scheduled for the penultimate round at NJMP (one on Saturday, two on Sunday), there are 75 points up for grabs in New Jersey. Ditto for the season finale at Barber Motorsports Park, September 17-19, where another three Superbike races will be held and thus another 75 points available. That’s 150 points. After race one on Saturday at NJMP, that number drops to 125, and on Sunday it becomes 100 and then 75 when the series heads south.
The bottom line is this: Gagne is currently 93 points ahead of Scholtz in the title chase, 325-232. If Gagne wins race one on Saturday and Scholtz finishes second, Gagne leads by 98 and he would need to have 100 points in hand to clinch. If he wins race two on Sunday morning and Scholtz is second, the lead is 103 points and Gagne can celebrate. Obviously, if Gagne wins and Scholtz finishes worse than second, all of this changes in favor of the Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha rider.
But first things first, we race. After 14 of 20 races, the HONOS Superbike Series arrives in the Garden State with Gagne in complete command and on the verge of making history. Three more victories out of the six remaining races and Gagne will tie Cameron Beaubier and Josh Hayes for the record of 16 AMA Superbike wins in a season. Based on the season thus far, it would be tough to bet against Gagne ending the season with 19 victories out of 20 starts. Amazing.
Westby Racing’s Scholtz and M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Cameron Petersen are the only riders in the HONOS Superbike class who haven’t been mathematically eliminated going into the NJMP round. Scholtz has put together a nice consistent little season for himself and the team and he is still the only rider other than Gagne to win a round. That came in the very first race of the year at Road Atlanta when Gagne’s YZF-R1 failed him on the opening lap. Scholtz has nine podiums in addition to that lone victory and remains the only, albeit slight, threat to Gagne’s title hopes.
Petersen has had a breakout year on the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki in his first year in the HONOS Superbike class on a real Superbike and the non-defending Stock 1000 Champion sits in a fairly solid third place in the series standings. Petersen has four podiums in total but has gone five races without a top-three finish.
Petersen’s teammate Bobby Fong went through a rough patch midseason, but he’s turned that around with two trips to the podium in the past four races. Fong is 19 points adrift of Petersen in fourth and 16 clear of fifth-placed Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York’s Loris Baz.
Baz’s rookie MotoAmerica season has been marred by five non-finishes and highlighted by six podiums – four of which were runner-up finishes to Gagne, a number that matches Scholtz’s second-place tally.
With four non-starts in a row, Josh Herrin arrives in New Jersey sixth in the title chase and a whopping 180 points behind his Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha teammate Gagne. With COVID-19 behind him, Herrin is hoping for a late season run of success, beginning at NJMP. Herrin is just four points behind Baz.
Twenty-one points behind Herrin is Scheibe Racing BMW’s Hector Barbera, the Spaniard seventh in his debut MotoAmerica season. Barbera has been consistent with finishes in the fifth to eighth-place range at every round he’s finished, and he only has one DNF on his record.
Altus Motorsports’ Jake Lewis, the first of those fighting for the MotoAmerica Superbike Cup that goes to the top-finishing Stock 1000-spec racer, is eighth overall and that puts him 14 points ahead of Travis Wyman Racing’s Travis Wyman in the chase for the $25,000 bonus that the Superbike Cup pays.
Panera Bread Ducati’s Kyle Wyman rounds out the top 10 in the HONOS Superbike point standings with the New Yorker missing six races due to a broken elbow suffered at the Road America round in June.
HONOS HVMC Racing’s Corey Alexander is 11th overall and 19 points behind Lewis in the Superbike Cup standings.
The first of three HONOS Superbike races will take place on Saturday at 3 p.m. On Sunday, the two races will take place at 11:10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
NJMP Superbike Notes…
Seven different riders have won AMA Superbike races at New Jersey Motorsports Park in the 12-year history of the series in the Garden State and only two of them will be racing this weekend. Ironically, those two will be teammates for the weekend – Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha’s Josh Herrin (two wins) and Toni Elias (three wins).
The most successful AMA Superbike racer at NJMP is far and away Josh Hayes. Hayes, who is currently a rider coach in the MotoAmerica paddock, has won 11 of the 26 Superbike races held at NJMP. Fittingly, Hayes won the first two Superbike races held at NJMP in 2009 and followed that up with two more wins in 2010. In fact, the four-time AMA Superbike Champion won seven of the first eight races held in New Jersey. Hayes also won the first two Superbike races of the MotoAmerica era at NJMP in 2015.
Five-time AMA Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier won both HONOS Superbike races last year at NJMP for his fifth and sixth career Superbike wins in New Jersey. Beaubier, who is now racing in the Moto2 World Championship, topped Mathew Scholtz in race one last year and his then-teammate Jake Gagne in race two. Toni Elias finished third in race one with Scholtz taking the final podium spot in race two.
With his 13 successive AMA Superbike wins coming into the NJMP round, championship points leader Jake Gagne is now tied for 14th on the all-time win list with Blake Young and Doug Polen. A win in New Jersey this weekend would move Gagne up to a tie for 12th with Scott Russell and Eddie Lawson. If Gagne were to win all three races this weekend, he will vault to ninth all-time and that will tie him with MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey on the win list. Rainey will be in attendance this weekend at NJMP. The all-time AMA Superbike win leader is Mat Mladin with 82 career victories.
Stat of the week: Believe it or not, Jake Gagne has led every single lap of the HONOS Superbike class since lap nine of race two in the opening round at Road Atlanta. All told, Gagne has now led 213 consecutive laps.
Cameron Beaubier holds the Superbike lap record at the 2.25-mile NJMP with the Californian setting a best of 1:19.806 to earn pole position in the Superpole session. The fastest lap set in a race last year was Beaubier’s 1:20.310 from race one.
Much to his chagrin, we bring this up every year: Roger Hayden, who won twice at NJMP during his Superbike career, finished second five times. Included in those five second-places were a .044 of a second loss to Josh Hayes in 2015, .156 of a second loss to Toni Elias in 2016 and a .039 of a second loss to Elias in 2017. Hayden currently excels in his color commentary of MotoAmerica’s races on MotoAmerica Live+, the series’ live-streaming and on-demand platform.
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