MILLVILLE — Josh Hayes could have ridden a tricycle on the last lap and he still might have won Saturday’s AMA Superbike race at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
With the series’ hottest driver — ever — racing at one of his best tracks, no one else had much of a chance.
Hayes set the AMA Superbike record with his ninth consecutive victory, winning by 22.211 seconds. He tied Mat Mladin’s record with his 12th win of the season overall and moved into sole possession of third on the all-time list with his 29th career win (Mladin is first with 82).
“I’m still pretty awestruck by it,” Hayes said afterward.
The 37-year-old from Gulfport, Miss., will go for the single-season record today in the second half of the weekend doubleheader at 3:30 p.m. There are four races left in the season after that.
Hayes has won six of the seven races at NJMP since the AMA first raced there in 2009. The park does not release attendance figures, but the AMA perennially draws the largest crowds each season.
Hayes said he didn’t have a good answer for why he has dominated this course, even beating the legendary Mladin in the last two races of Mladin’s career in 2009.
“I can tell you just one thing, me (or) my bike, I’m not sure, but going over the front straightaway, my bike is so good,” Hayes said. “That’s a really important part of this racetrack. … I feel like I kind of have a monopoly on that part of the racetrack.”
Hayes opened an eight-second lead in the first six laps Saturday. The lead was up to 18 seconds after 15 laps.
He said the biggest challenge was maintaining the torrid pace with no one challenging him.
“When you get a (big) gap, even a five-second gap, the hardest thing is to keep your focus,” Hayes said.
The real battle was for second place, with Ben Bostrom edging Blake Young. Hayes had such a huge lead that he said he was able to watch Bostrom and Young from one part of the track.
“It’s tough — and mentally tough, too,” Bostrom said of racing against Hayes right now. “The guy seems to have everything dialed in — himself, the bike and his routine.”
Young added: “He’s just at a whole ‘nother level right now.”
They will get another shot at beating Hayes today. Bostrom, a longtime fan favorite, said it would be “epic” to end Hayes’ streak.
“We’re gunning for him,” Bostrom said. “I can’t say it’s going to happen, but you’ve got to try.”
Notes: Cameron Baubier won his third race in a row in the Daytona Sportbike series. James Rispoli won the Supersport race.
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