Rookie Spies, 24, turning heads
Five Americans --
Spies also could be proud of winning the pole on home ground, the only Superbike World round in the United States this year. He'll have the full support of the crowd for the two 21-lap races Sunday on the very fast 3.048-mile course.
"It feels great to have the record and to do it in my home race, but to get the record in the world championship is bigger," Spies said. "I knew I had a good race pace (before qualifying) and knew qualifying would be pretty good. When everybody started talking up about the record, I felt the pressure. I got through the anxiety and the nervousness and the pressure. Once I rolled out for the warm-up, everything went into race mode and I got it done."
The series uses knock-out qualifying, eliminating riders from 26 to 20 to 16 to eight. Spies, on a Yamaha, made each cut easily. He was fastest in the last two 12-minute Superpole sessions, needing one flying lap in each.
In the final session, which determined the pole, Spies ran 1:48.334, nearly a half second quicker than Honda rider
Spies is third in the world championship, 88 points behind Ducati's
"The goal is (Sunday),' Spies said. "I have good race pace. There are four or five riders with good race pace. It's going to be a fight."
Haga failed to advance to the final round of qualifying and starts in ninth position, the inside of the third row in Superbike's four-wide, standing-start procedure. Fabrizio starts from the outside of the front row.
Two other Americans are in the field, both making their debuts in the series.
"For my first time in the series, on this bike and on these tires, I'm very pleased with our qualifying result," Hacking said. "It's the best by far for our team this year. I'm very happy and excited with what we've done.
Hacking, a regular in the American Motorcyclist Association's Superbike Series, is a close friend of Spies, who won the AMA Superbike championship from 2006 to 2008.
"Ben is a very good qualifier and I'm not surprised he's done what he's done," Hacking said. "He knows how to put qualifying together."
Hacking is considered a good prospect to join Spies in the Superbike World Championship next year. A strong showing in Sunday's two races at the track located 30 miles west of Salt Lake City would bolster his chances.
"If I get the right opportunity and the right offer, I'll be gone (to Superbike World)," Hacking said.