Bobby Fong (50) is the MotoAmerica Steel Commander Superbike Championship points leader heading to round five at Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington, June 28-30. Josh Herrin (2) sits third in the title chase. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

Wrench Motorcycles’ Bobby Fong and his eight-point lead in the 2024 MotoAmerica Steel Commander Superbike Championship will embark on Ridge Motorsports Park this coming weekend, June 28-30, with little doubt that he can improve upon his results from a year ago at the racetrack in Shelton, Washington.

Fong’s 2023 visit to Washington was a bust as he was disqualified from race one for ignoring a black flag, and he failed to finish race two. That’s zero points on the weekend for those of you counting at home.

But that was then and this is now and it’s highly unlikely that with his confidence level at an all-time high, and with his team operating smoothly and efficiently, things won’t be very different than they were in 2023.

Fong arrives at the track in the shadows of Mount Rainier after two resounding victories at Brainerd International Raceway two weeks ago and it has him atop the standings with the series set for two stops on the West Coast beginning with the Ridge round.

Fong’s season thus far has been one of up-and-down consistency (pardon the oxymoron) early and flat-out speed of late. He began his 2024 season with a podium in race one at Road Atlanta but followed that up with a 10th (in wet conditions) in race two. In the three races at Barber Motorsports Park, Fong was ninth, fifth and second, and at Road America he was eighth (again in the wet) and second. Fong was starting to hit his stride, and he followed up on Road America with his pole position and two victories at Brainerd.

Attack Performance/Progressive/Yamaha Racing’s Jake Gagne is the only rider in the top 10 other than Fong to score points in every round, but they haven’t come in bucketfuls like what we’ve come to expect from the three-time and defending Steel Commander Superbike Champion.

All you really need to know is that Gagne has only won one race and that came at Road Atlanta way back in April. That’s simply unheard of for Gagne. The cause? Debilitating arm-pump issues that have Gagne barely holding on (literally), and with just one podium in the past six races. It’s been difficult to watch and even his rivals feel his pain. Unlike Fong, it’s gotten to the point where Gagne longs for wet races as his last podium was a second-place finish in the wet at Road America.

Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati’s Josh Herrin has fought his way to third in the series standings after his race-two crash at Barber put a zero in his points column. Herrin has one win and four total podiums, including his victory in race one at Road America, and his points tally features his two second-place finishes to Fong at Brainerd. Herrin sits 19 points behind Fong and 11 behind Gagne.

Also, remember that Herrin was fast last year at Ridge Motorsports Park, qualifying on pole and finishing third in both races.

Gagne’s teammate Cameron Petersen has been quick all year and, after nine races, finds himself still in the hunt for the championship. With two wins and five total podiums, Petersen is 28 points behind Fong and nine behind Herrin.

Nine points behind Petersen is Herrin’s teammate Loris Baz with the Frenchman earning his second podium of the season in the most recent round at Brainerd. Baz only has one non-score on his season when he was hit from behind by a lapped rider in race three at Barber.

EasyHealthPlans.com/TopPro Racing’s Sean Dylan Kelly started his season on a tear as he raced to two podiums in the first five races of his rookie campaign in the Steel Commander Superbike class. Kelly has slipped down the order a bit with crashes in the two of the past four races and he is now sixth in the championship – 42 points behind Fong and five behind Baz.

Tytlers Cycle Racing’s Cameron Beaubier is seventh, despite the non-score from his crash in the rain at Road America and the three subsequent races of zero points while he recovered from his surgically repaired broken heel. But wait. The five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion’s team announced this week that Beaubier will return to action at Ridge Motorsports Park this coming weekend.

Let’s not forget that Beaubier won three of the first five races to start the season prior to his injury and he’s won 62 of these Superbike races in his career. So, in looking at the point standings, Beaubier is 43 points behind. With a five-point difference between first and second, and 11 races left to run… okay, it’s too early for that.

Beaubier’s teammate JD Beach is eighth in the title chase and still trying to recover from the hit his points tally took with two non-finishes in the three races at Barber. Beach, however, showed podium speed with his third in race two at Road America.

Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Brandon Paasch had a rocky start to his season but has turned things around with four strong outings in a row at Road America and Brainerd. Paasch is ninth in the championship heading to Washington.

Despite not competing in the past four Superbike races, Real Steel Motorsports’ Hayden Gillim still finds himself in the top 10 after a solid start to his season on his Stock 1000-spec Honda CBR1000RR-R SP.

With Beaubier set to return, Xavi Forés will be the only Superbike fill-in rider as he will continue to replace the injured Richie Escalante on the second Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki.

Pre-Race Ridge Notes…

The Superbike men failed to top Jake Gagne’s lap record of 1:39.145 from Q2 in 2022 last year on the 2.47-mile Ridge Motorsports Park, though Cameron Beaubier did set a race-record lap of 1:39.633 in the second of two races in 2023.

Jake Gagne beat Mathew Scholtz and Josh Herrin to win race one a season ago at Ridge Motorsports Park for what was his fifth win in a row. On Sunday, however, Cameron Beaubier broke Gagne’s win streak by topping Gagne and Herrin to win race two.

Three-time MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Champion Jake Gagne is the winningest rider in the four-year (eight-race) history of MotoAmerica holding a round of its championship at Ridge Motorsports Park. Gagne has won five of the eight races with Cameron Beaubier winning the first two races in 2020 and a third in race two last year.

With his two victories at Brainerd International Raceway two weeks ago, Bobby Fong has now won five AMA Superbike races in his career. That puts him in a tie for 26th on the all-time Superbike win list with Larry Pegram, Jake Zemke, Mathew Scholtz and Danilo Petrucci.

With its five wins thus far in 2024, Yamaha is closing in on the 125-win mark in the MotoAmerica Superbike era. Yamaha has 122 wins in MotoAmerica Superbike and 195 total AMA Superbike wins, which places them second to Suzuki’s 216 AMA Superbike victories.

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