First or Last. Zero to Hero. Win it or Bin it. Whatever the catchy phrase you choose to describe Jake's season so far, you won't be wrong. Coming off the stellar double win at Road America in conditions that would turn LN2 into a solid (nerds will love that reference), would Jake be able to keep his "First or Last" streak intact? Would the heat and humidity become a factor as he seeks the championship? It's still too early to tell what's going to happen but with a 100% finish to win ratio, Jake and the 32 Crew are putting the entire MotoAmerica Paddock on notice. Barber Motorsports Park would be the stage of another brilliant demonstration of their ability to prepare a motorcycle and ride it to perfection.
Round 4 of the series saw Jake pull off the Double Victory in conditions that were less than ideal to put it mildly. This weekend the weather was going to be an issue as well, only this time it would be heat and humidity rather than cold and rain. But Jake loves Barber Motorsports Park and on this track, the Superbikes wouldn't have such a big advantage as there are no really long straits that they can escape on. Jake would be able to keep them in sight and his hope was to be in a position to take a top three overall spot. You know, just because it would be cool.
Well, that was almost a reality from the get-go. Finally, the 32 Crew was able to get a full compliment of laps in during the three open practice sessions. Jake showed his speed from the first laps as he was circulating within the top 3 overall and even capturing the quickest section times in two of the 5 sections. During free practice one, Jake put his Superstock R1 in P2 overall. It was looking really good for him and his quest to beat Superbikes outright. However, as the weekend went on and practice sessions continued, Jake would find himself out of the top 3 spots overall but maintained his dominance over the Superstock class. It wasn't as if he had perfect sessions either. Jake had a minor slip exiting the Museum Corner and caused his crew to do some repairs. Nothing Scotty and Danny can't take care of before qualifying. But, during Saturday's Superpole Qualifying, Jake's R1 Superstock would suffer a mechanical failure and on his back-up bike he would be unable to improve his times. Jake ended up qualifying in P6 overall and 2nd in Superstock.
Race One was set to go off on time on Sunday afternoon. It was scheduled to be a 23 lap race under the blue Alabama sky. After the grid was cleared and the riders returned from their sighting lap, it was all business. All eyes were on the lights and when they went out, it was a thunderous symphony as the field headed into T1. Superbike rider Cameron Beaubier cleared out and was miles ahead by the second lap it appeared, but Jake was tucked in line right behind the Superbikes of Roger Hayden and Jake Lewis. Gagne would stalk Lewis for much of the race and it was looking promising that he would be able to keep with him and make a move to hunt down Roger Hayden. Cameron would have an off track excursion leaving Josh Hayes to lead and moving Jake Gagne to P4 overall still right behind Jake Lewis. Within a lap, Gagne had made his move and passed Jake Lewis for P3 overall. Jake was able to pull a small gap as the laps clicked down and suddenly a red flag was waving and the race was stopped. Would there be a restart? Would Jake have to do it all over again?
No! The race was called officially as 15 of the 23 laps had been concluded and Jake was awarded P1 in Superstock and P3 Overall. Remember, there's nothing in it for him to do so, but it's Jake, and he just wants to beat everyone else on the track. So mission accomplished and it was on to race two in a few hours time.
Race two was shorted due to the time it took to clear the track from the red flag incident in race one. This actually gave the team and riders more time to cool off and allowed the track temp to drop just a bit. As riders gridded up for race two, the anticipation was palpable. Could Jake pull of another top three overall? We'd soon find out as the lights went off and again the field charged around the track aggressively jockeying for positions. Another great start meant that Jake was on the tail pipe of the Factory Superbikes for the first several laps. But by mid-race distance he was left to struggle with keeping pace with Roger Hayden who was in P3 overall. Jake would find himself unable to close the distance and with the heat wearing on him, he rode a smart race and brought his R1 home in P4 overall with another victory in the Superstock class.
8 Victories in 10 Races. If he finishes a race, it's in first place. First or last, the Ripper does it again. What will Miller Motorsports Park bring? We'll find out in a little over a week.
1st in Superstock Points
" I was really stoked to get back to Barber especially being on the Superstock 1000 this time around. Practice went well as Scotty and DA had the R1 working really good pretty much straight off the truck. We had a little motor mishap during qualifying but Scotty and DA got a new motor in her overnight and we were feeling solid for race day.
I was really happy with Race 1 because we managed to stay within a couple seconds of the leading Superbikes, and got the Superstock win as well. Race 2 we managed another win and pulled the double. The heat made it a tough couple of races but I rode my butt off every lap and was really pleased with what we pulled off.
Roll on Miller!"
"I'm kinda running out of things to say about Jake and his crew. I mean it seems this year it's been Hero to Zero then back to Hero all weekend long, every weekend so far. I'm not complaining at all, it's just a roller coaster ride.
We knew at tracks like Barber Motorsports Park and Laguna we'd be able to keep touch with the Superbikes and that a top three overall was a possibility. Jake proved it was this weekend. I try to tell him to calm down and we don't get anything extra for beating Superbikes, but Jake just wants to win so badly he doesn't care what class is in front of him, he just rings the bike's neck until the checkers fly.
We had an issue that wasn't expected with the motor that had us scratching our heads. But Scotty and DA were able to put that behind them and really rebuild Jake's bike into another powerhouse. They stayed up till 1 am working on the bike and when Jake got on it for warm-ups, it was perfect. Another Double Win and another awesome display by Jake and his guys... What more can I say other than, 'Wow'"