ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (June 6, 2014) - AMA Pro SuperSport headed into Road America with Corey Alexander in the points lead after dominating at Daytona. The New York native and Celtic/HVMC Racing pilot had put on a show in Florida.
In the season's first two races, Alexander, last year's East champion, maintained his momentum from the previous season and served notice that anyone wanting to hoist an AMA Pro SuperSport victory trophy in 2014 would have to go through him.
Elkhart Lake, where Alexander won twice last year, looked like a great place to extend his push. However, a broken collarbone from a training accident and surgery to fix it left Corey with shoulder ills. Going into this weekend, Alexander said he was unsure how his fitness would progress.
Hayden Gillim of TOBC Racing proved to be his toughest opposition in Wisconsin. The duo split wins at the four-mile circuit. While Alexander maintained his points lead, Gillim jumped up to second in the standings.
It looks like the season will see Alexander and Gillim jockey for position in the championship. Celtic/HVMC Racing's Wyatt Farris and HSBK Racing's Dustin Dominguez sit just behind Gillim and will fight to make their mark as the year progresses.
Saturday's race began with pole man Alexander lined up alongside Dominguez and Gillim. Gillim moved to the front but Alexander was able to dispatch him quickly and break away.
Alexander cruised to victory, crossing the line with a 4.236-second gap over second place. The win was his third in a row to begin the year.
"I knew the first three laps were going to tell the whole race. I wanted to put my head down and get a gap if I could," said Alexander.
When asked about his shoulder, Alexander noted he was simply in the zone and it didn't affect him on the bike.
"When you are riding, you have a lot of adrenaline going," he said.
Dominguez worked his way through early issues to finish second. The Oklahoman had the measure of everyone except Alexander. By lap five of 10, he had passed Gillim. He couldn't run down Alexander, but he kept the gap constant.
"I got a horrible start and the first lap, my clutch was slipping," said Dominguez. "I had to pass a couple of guys but finally saw Hayden and worked my way around him. I tried to push again and I saw Corey. The gap was staying about the same."
After leading on the start, Gillim made a valiant bid to hold on and earned a podium for his efforts.
"Corey came by pretty quick," said Gillim. "I tried to stick with him but he's got that bike going pretty quick. I ran my own race for a while and, slowly but surely, Dustin caught up."
The battle for fourth was a hot one, with Farris and Kaleb De Keyrel of De Keyrel Racing jousting for the spot. It was a nice display of exuberant passes and aggressive moves. De Keyrel led the white flag lap, but gave up the slot in Turn 2. Farris took the position by just 0.426 seconds at the checkered flag.
Another dogfight for sixth saw Tuned Racing's Jason Aguilar top Excel Racing's Conner Blevins by 0.456 seconds.
House of Paint Designs pilot JC Camacho was eighth in another solid finish for the young Texan. Mexico's Erick Sanchez on the EYK Racing entry and RoadRace Factory's Hayden Schultz rounded out the top 10 in a contest that saw 40 riders make the grid.
On Sunday, a red flag on the first time around the course stopped the initial attempt at the 10-lapper. The second try was stopped again just a few laps in, after rain fell in the area of Turn 3 and made the track slick. Several riders fell and the red flag quickly flew.
AMA Pro shortened the affair to eight laps with five remaining on the restart. Gillim had his third great start in a row and moved out to a good lead with the Celtic/HVMC teammates behind him.
Gillim and Alexander, former Red Bull Rookies Cup teammates, traded the lead multiple times in the remaining laps. The final time around, Alexander nailed Turn 5 and grabbed the lead. He held it through the last turn and got the better drive heading down the home stretch. Gillim, however, timed his push perfectly and won by a wheel - just 0.015 seconds - thanks to the Road America draft.
"It means a lot," said Gillim. "Before this weekend, I had only been in the top five once (at Road America). In this race, we were right there. I kept getting good starts. Corey caught me. The board said it was plus one. I heard him behind me and from then on it was all-out war.
"I honestly thought he had me beat, but I was able to pull it out at the line. He went super deep and had a good gap on me and I slipped coming out of the corner. I thought I was done, but somehow a miracle happened and I was able to get right up behind him. It was insane."
Alexander gave it a great shot. Taking second in a tricky race while injured was a nice result.
"I was a little more cautious," said Alexander of the wet portion of the race.
He explained that his goal is the championship, so earning maximum points while minimizing risk was the big theme for the weekend.
"I am still pretty hurt. I think it paid off," said Alexander.
Aguilar earned his first podium in the class. In his Road America debut, the Californian looked like a seasoned pro in the drafting department.
"The restarts caught me out a little," said Aguilar, the 14th qualifier. "I was in fifth and saw Kaleb (De Keyrel) and Wyatt (Farris) battling in front of me. I thought I would stick behind them and try to draft them to the line. I got sixth in Race 1 and third here, so I am really happy."
De Keyrel was fourth by just 0.003 over Farris in a battle that will likely be repeated in 2014. De Keyrel turned the fastest lap overall in the race.
Blevins, an Oklahoma native, was seventh once again, showing solid consistency.
Dominguez was an amazing eighth after being scored in last at one point. He was just behind the leader during the second leg but came together with Farris at Canada Corner. The Oklahoman went flying off the track at high speed but remounted and returned to the action.
Undeterred, Dominguez climbed from 35th to 13th in one lap on the last restart.
Harv's Harley-Davidson's Cody Wyman crashed just before the red flag, but the New Yorker rebounded to gain ninth place on the day.
Andre Ochs rounded out the top ten.
With great form throughout 2014, Alexander has accomplished his goals so far and has a 29-point lead in the standings. But riders like Gillim and Dominguez have shown they can run at an impressive pace, too. With a little luck and some progress, maybe they can close the gap in Alabama later this month.
Round 3 of the 2014 AMA Pro Road Racing season, the Triumph SuperBike Classic, will take place at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., June 21-22.
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About AMA Pro Road Racing
AMA Pro Road Racing is the premier motorcycle road racing series in North America and is universally regarded as one of the most competitive road racing organizations in the world. The series is comprised of four production-based classes: AMA Pro SuperBike, AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, AMA Pro SuperSport and the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series. Learn more about AMA Pro Road Racing at www.amaproracing.com/rr/.