Cameron Beaubier celebrated his 100th AMA Superbike start in the best way possible. With a victory. The win, Beaubier’s seventh of his near-perfect season, was the 45th triumph of the four-time MotoAmerica Superbike champion’s career.
As the others have been in 2020, Beaubier’s win was decisive, though he wrongly downplayed it as “a bit lucky.” Challenged early by his Monster Energy Attack Performance Yamaha teammate Jake Gagne early on, Beaubier ended up 9.59 seconds ahead at the finish after clutch problems dropped Gagne back to third. Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz was the beneficiary of Gagne’s problems, the South African ending up second for the second straight day at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.
“Just going to try to keep this ball rolling as long as I can,” Beaubier said after his start-to-finish victory in the HONOS Superbike race. “Like Jake (Gagne) said, the Monster Attack Yamaha guys have been working so hard. It’s been great. It’s been so much work all year so far. Just going to try to keep it going. I’d say I got a little lucky in that race. Jake has been improving all weekend, and same with Matty (Scholtz). Lining up today after how fast he (Gagne) was in warm-up, I knew it was going to be pretty tough.
“At the start of the race, I put my head down and got a good start, which I’m really happy about because I’ve struggled with starts pretty bad in the past, and this year it’s been going really good. I get off the line really good and I think that’s a little key to our success as well. I saw 0.5 on my board lap after lap after lap. I’m like, ‘Man. Jake is riding really good.’ I missed a shift and kind of almost put my face through the windshield with maybe 11 to go, something like that. I knew he had probably stuck on me pretty good. I came by, and I saw plus two seconds gap. I was like, ‘Oh man. Maybe he ran off or something like that.’
“Turns out it was a little clutch issue, which is a bummer for him because I knew it was going to be a pretty tough end to the race. All in all, I’m just really happy with where we’re at. Me and Garrett (Gerloff) had a really good battle last year, to finish second. I had a lead and ran off the track with a few laps to go to finish second to Toni (Elias) last year here. So, it was really, really good to get a couple wins here. Hats off to all my guys.”
Scholtz knew after the morning warm-up that he was in a bit of trouble as the other two had stepped up with faster lap times.
“I kind of figured that something happened to him,” Scholtz said when he saw Gagne coming back to him near the end of the race. “Looking at the warmup times we kind of saw that they had upped their pace. I was a little bit disappointed in the warmup that we didn’t break into the 40s. My whole game plan was just to kind of follow these two and just sort of hang onto them and just try to see maybe from the halfway point if I could just consistently run those low 41s and try to maybe catch up to Jake (Gagne), but something happened and he fell back. Just really happy to be back up on the podium and finish second for the Westby Racing team. We’ve been working hard. I feel like we’re getting better every time we go out. Just when we kind of think that we’ve caught up to Cameron, he pulls something out. So, we’ll just carry onward and find something more.”
Gagne said he was fortunate to finish third because he wasn’t sure he could nurse the bike to the finish.
“First off, we made a lot of improvements,” Gagne said. “Today the bike felt better than we have all weekend, obviously. At least to be able to run those times we wanted to run in the beginning in the first couple laps. We didn’t let Cam (Beaubier) get totally out of sight. We kind of just sat around a half second or so and was able to learn a lot. The first time I’ve been that close to Cam all year, especially on the starts because he’s been taking off.
“Unfortunately, there was that one lap, I think I just roasted the clutch a little too hard on the start. Then obviously it just kind of got worse and worse and worse. Like Cam said, he came by one lap and already pulled some seconds. I was messing with the adjuster, trying to get it to at least survive. For a second I didn’t think I would have done 10 more laps or whatever we had to go. Just rode a gear high and just kind of putted around there. I knew Mat (Scholtz) was coming. Luckily there was a big gap there behind Mat. For a while there I definitely didn’t think we’d still end up on the podium. The bike just kind of got slower and slower after the clutch. We got on the podium. We got a sweep again. Hats off to my team. They’re working so hard. I’m happy that we made some improvements and went faster today.”
Josh Herrin survived an off-track excursion and fought his way back up to fourth place by the finish of the race, the Scheibe Racing BMW rider besting M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s
Toni Elias by a tick over a second. OneCure/KWR Ducati’s Kyle Wyman was also a part of what was an entertaining battle for fourth, the New Yorker ending up sixth.
FLY Racing ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony finished seventh, some six seconds clear of Altus Motorsports’ Cameron Petersen. Ninth place went to M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Alex Dumas, the 18-year-old solid in what was his HONOS Superbike debut.
Travis Wyman ended the 17-lap race in 10th place on his Travis Wyman Racing BMW S 1000 RR.
With four rounds (eight races) completed in the 2020 HONOS Superbike season, Beaubier leads the title chase by 37 points over Gagne, 175-138. Scholtz is third with 116 points and Wyman moves back to fourth in the standings with Bobby Fong forced out of the race early with too much pain from his big crash on Saturday.
Superbike Race Two
Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha)
Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)
Jake Gagne (Yamaha)
Josh Herrin (BMW)
Toni Elias (Suzuki)
Kyle Wyman (Ducati)
David Anthony (Suzuki)
Cameron Petersen (Suzuki)
Alex Dumas (Suzuki)
Travis Wyman (BMW)