July 25, 2010 - After a year plagued with injuries and misfortune, Jeff Wood returned to the Michelin Pro Series at Thunderbolt Raceway with one thing on his mind, winning. After setting lap records in qualifying for the SportBike and SuperBike classes, Wood knew he had a good chance to return to his dominating ways of 2008 and he set out to prove it from the first lap of competition.
In his first race, Michelin Pro SuperBike, Wood showed real patience on his Yamaha R6, following fellow LRRS standout Shane Narbonne for the first 4 laps of the 10 lap contest. Once the pair got close to the halfway point, Wood put is head down and moved past Narbonne going into turn 1 and clawing his way to a 5 bike length lead that he held to the end. Wood bettered his qualifying time by .016 seconds on his Dunlop-shod R6 with a 1:24.568 for the race lap record in the class. At the checkered flag it was Wood, then Narbonne 1.019 seconds back, with AJ Krause on his Kawasaki in third. Wood's win brought him into a tie with Jason Farrell for the 2010 SuperBike Championship.
With that first win under his belt, Wood looked to be back in his championship winning form and the SportBike field knew they would have to step up their game to stop him. From the green flag the top four riders were within a few bike lengths of each other, with Wood, Narbonne, Mike Selpe and 2009 SportBike Champion Paul Allison all looking for the top spot at the end of the 10 lap contest. First rider to slip from contention was Allison, who could match the blistering pace set by Wood, Selpe and Narbonne. Next to suffer a calamity was Narbonne who crashed on lap 7 trying to keep the pressure on Wood. This left Mike Selpe alone to try to beat the multi-time ASRA National Champion Wood and try as he might, Selpe could not wrest the lead from Wood. So Wood crossed the line first, followed by Selpe 2.066 seconds back in second. Allisonís problems dropped him back into a battle for third with Zolt Veres but an off track excursion left Veres with an 8 second gap back to Allison. The podium was an all Yamaha affair with Wood first, Selpe second and a delighted Veres in third position. Selpe's second was enough to give him a 29 point lead over Jason Farrell for the Michelin Pro SportBike Championship.
After qualifying, it looked like Nate Kern on the BMW of Manhattan Motorcycles S1000RR was going to have this race in the bag, but that's why they run the race. Instead of the BMW triumph, it was Shane Narbonne on his DAS Performance Suzuki 1000 who took the hole shot and never looked back as he built a 19 second advantage and was never challenged. Kern was able to keep Narbonne in sight for a couple of laps but pressure from Timothy Bemisderfer on the Twigg Cycle BMW quickly put Kern on the defense, ending any chance he had to reel in Narbonne. Bemisderfer was able to get in front of Kern on lap 5 but the damage had been done to his chances to make any move on the leader. Narbonne finished with a 19.094 gap back to Bemisderfer in second and Kern finished in third 4 seconds back of Bemisderfer. During his winning run, Narbonne set a new Michelin Pro Series SuperStock record with a 1:23.808 and now is just 8 points away from championship leader Joel Spalding who finished 8th.
The biggest surprise of the day had to be the return of Joe Rozynski to ThunderBike. Rozynski had taken most of the season off but chose to return his Sound Waves Buell XB12 to action at NJMP. Eric Helmbach on his Chester Auto Repair Suzuki 650 took the holeshot but his time at the front was short lived. By the end of lap 1, it was Rozynski in front, with Helmbach, pole sitter Joey Thomas and ThunderBike point leader Joel Spalding in pursuit. By the second lap, Helmbach slid to 4th position with Joey Thomas on his Ducati 1000 in second and Joel Spalding on his Ducati 749 in third. This is the order they would finish, with Rozynski holding a .9 second advantage after the 10 lap final. Point leader Joel Spalding increased is championship lead in Michelin Pro ThunderBike to 46 points over Jay Smith with just 2 rounds left in the championship.
The next race for the Michelin Pro Series is Round 7 at Virginia International Raceway on September 25-26, 2010.
For complete updates on Michelin Pro Series qualifying, results and points, visit www.asraracing.com.