Yamaha Superbike rider Josh Hayes came to the Daytona International Speedway media center late Sunday afternoon to talk about his weekend at Daytona. This is a transcript of the official press conference.
Q What happened yesterday and today?
A Yesterday we had the unfortunate incident of me being hard on equipment, trying to get a big start. I did some damage to the clutch. It took a little bit of time, I guess, for it to really kill itself. For me to kill it, I guess. I got a few good laps out of it, at least. But unfortunately, it finally gave up the ghost after a while. Today's events was, to the best of my knowledge, an engine failure. I don't know which component in the engine failed. But it gave me a little bit of an indication, and stuff was going bad, and then progressed really quickly. As soon as I came down onto the flat, off of the banking, I got a little hiccup, and I thought, "Am I running out of fuel? What's going on?" And then things soured pretty quickly. I was doing my best to get down below the line, but I was already getting close to the tri-oval. When I got onto the paint, the thing started swapping ends pretty quick, and I ended up above the line.
So I was trying to just kind of try to stay close to the left side of the track, and I was going to roll around until it was safe to get across, and by the time I got kind of down into Turn 1, I got a bit of a clunk, and the thing went sideways and kind of spit me off to the right.
Fortunately, I got across there safely without any of the other guys who were coming through. Just an unfortunate event. I don't really know why or what happened. It didn't give me any indication before then. I guess I was just going too fast.
Q Can you talk about Melissa's ride today?
A Today turned around a little bit for me. Both having these two boys finish first and second in the 200, and then seeing Melissa run ninth. I really felt like she earned a ninth place finish today. Unfortunately she had the ride-through penalty. But a top ten in the Daytona 200 is quite an accomplishment. I'm super proud of her. It was nice to see her getting some TV time. And watching her ride was really nice to see her out there on the motorcycle. She doesn't look like she rides like a girl. I like that.
Q Your teammate, Josh Herrin, has really stepped up. Can you talk about that a little bit? Were you surprised?
A Josh is riding good. I actually, before we came to Daytona, I knew that in my opinion, this is one of the easier tracks that we are able to go around. I had a pretty good feeling, after riding at some of the tougher tracks, like Barber and Laguna, that when he had latched onto me, and I've seen him drop some big lap times. At this level, to drop a second and a half in one lap following somebody is a pretty incredible feat. He had done that to me in the past quite a few times, and I really had no doubts that he would be able to do that. Once the race got going, he was able to put quite a few good laps together, because I was clicking off some really good lap times, and he was hanging in there. I was just basically waiting for a mistake that would hopefully give me a little bit of breathing room, and then I knew it would be hard for him to make ground back up. I felt like I was riding well. I think Josh is doing good things, but it's a long season. We'll have to see if he - we've got another big break here, I think around nine weeks, and we'll have to see if he's able to raise the level of his game, because I still feel like I have a little bit of pace on those guys, and they still have a little bit of work to do.
Q You were just talking about when he's behind you, you still haven't shaken being a little nervous.
A He's young. He's pretty excitable. He's riding a machine that's hard to ride. It can quickly get out of control. Yeah. I think he's a super talented rider. I don't think he's got enough time on it. I don't feel like he's 100% of the time, in 100% control of his motorcycle. So it makes me nervous. Part of what I think is his super talent is the fact that he can get away with that. I can't do that. If I get in there and do that a few times, I'm going to be sliding on my head, and he's just got this incredible balance, that he can try things and make mistakes and get away with it. When you're riding close to it, it can be pretty scary sometimes. A lot of times I felt the same way about Blake. It's a little unnerving to race with, but you get out there and race the best that I can. I try to put things together that are smooth and consistent and fast, and make them - put the pressure on them, that they're going to have to learn how to do that for race distance every time.
Q Josh, you're pretty far back in the championship now. What are your thoughts moving forward in the season?
A Well, you know, I've been in the position before. I've had a bad Daytona, and had to come back from behind. I really have nothing to lose right now. It's kind of like having a big lead in the points. Once you get a full race lead, you have nothing to lose. You have a giveaway. Well, I don't have a giveaway, but second doesn't mean too much to me, so my goal at this point is to get every possible available point for the rest of the season. The season's considerably shorter than last year, so even though I won by a large margin last year, this year, there's not that many races available to me. There's some talk and rumor of possibly adding another round to the end of the series, which would be extremely good for me, to have an extra couple of races that I can make some points back. I definitely hope that our series can strengthen up quickly, and sponsorship dollars and TV packages and all those things can happen so that we can have an extra couple of races, and another opportunity for me to race these guys.
Q Josh, do you think any of the changes in the rules led to your mechanical issues today?
A Possibly. Especially yesterday. The clutch - the added horsepower of being able to change the camshafts, and you're seeing it in the trap speeds. There's definitely some more horsepower there. And that added horsepower through the same clutch we've been running is definitely, I think, a contributing factor to what happened in burning up the clutch yesterday. Because I tried a very hard start. With the gearing that we have to run at Daytona, I'm typically slipping the clutch considerably longer than I do at any other racetrack that we ride at, and that heat just builds up so fast, that an extra second or two on the clutch can really make a big difference. When I saw Martin come up alongside of me, I was in the process of getting the clutch out, and I kind of hesitated, and stayed in the power, and kept the clutch in a little bit to make sure I was getting the most out of my start, and not allow him to just roll on past me. I didn't want to bog any at all. So I didn't do myself any favors in doing that process.