By ROB HAMILTON
While it didn’t start until much later than expected, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was able to get in all seven scheduled races of the Buckeye Superbike Weekend over the weekend.
Originally, the first of two races in the SuperSport, SportBike and SuperBike series were to run Saturday, while the second race for those three groups, as well as the Vane & Hines Harley-Davidson Race were to come Sunday. However, the Saturday weather was not cooperative, with all morning qualifying sessions postponed by rain. During the afternoon, the SuperBike motorcycles came out for a brief practice session before their first race, but a bit more rain popped up to prevent the green flag from ever waving.
Fortunately, the weather was much more pleasant on Sunday and all seven races were held, starting at 11 a.m. While most of them were shortened by four to five laps, Mid-Ohio was able to get them all completed by late afternoon and fans were treated to some exciting action.
The best finish came in the second SuperBike race, as Josh Hayes dueled with teammate Cameron Beaubier throughout the 16 laps, leading the first 12 before Beaubier took first for the next three. Hayes would regain the lead in the final lap, though, and withstood a furious charge from the other rider coming out of the Carousel down the final stretch to hold him off by a mere thousandth of a second where the winner wasn’t determined until a photograph of the finish could be viewed. Roger Hayden took third in the race.
In the first SuperBike event, which kicked off the Sunday racing, Hayes led the first five laps, but Beaubier would then catch him and lead the rest of the way, winning by roughly three-tenths of a second. Hayden was third, giving him two podium finishes on the day, as well.
Currently in the season standings, Hayes has a 40-point lead over Beaubier and has won five of the last six races in the series with only two more scheduled.
Jake Lewis took first place in the first Daytona SportBike event. J.D. Beach led the first two laps before eventually fading to sixth place. From there, Lewis and Jake Gagne traded the lead before Lewis topped the other rider by .125 seconds. Danny Eslick took third place.
In the second race, Jason DiSalvo took the lead on the 10th of 14 laps from Gagne, who led the field up to that point. DiSalvo wound up finishing first, while Gagne finished second for the second time. Garrett Gerloff placed third. While he didn’t pick up any wins on the weekend, earning two runner-up finishes allowed Gagne to hold a seven-point lead over Lewis in the standings.
The SuperSport races were the largest of the day, with 43 riders taking the track for competition. Dustin Dominguez was the winner both times to be the only two-time winner of the weekend. In the first race, Hayden Gillim finished second and Wyatt Farris ran third. Gillim was also second in the latter race, while Conner Blevins finished third. With a three-race win streak, Dominguez now has 189 points, putting him two behind Gillim in the race for a series championship.
Also, in the Vance & Himes Harley-Davidson series, Tyler O’Hara finished in first place, while Danny Eslick ran second and Ben Carlson took third. Those also are the top three riders in the standings, with Eslick leading O’Hara by six points and Carlson in third, 23 points off the pace.
Reach Rob Hamilton at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807, or on Twitter at @SportsMCS