Jake Johnson Returns to the Podium, Roger Hayden Earns National Number at Laconia Short Track
Jake Johnson scored his second American Flat Track podium this season aboard the Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT, crossing the line third at the inaugural Laconia Short Track in Loudon, New Hampshire, on Saturday, June 15. Fill-in rider Roger Hayden also had a good result on the day with a top-10 finish as well as earning his National Number by making the Main Event. The all-new venue at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was packed with fans to watch the sport’s best flat track racers tackle challenging conditions on the quarter-mile track. For the Estenson Racing AFT Twins team, the tough track made for a difficult start to the day for both Johnson and Hayden. When it came down to racing, though, the hard work paid off in the Semis with Johnson and Hayden finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. Hayden’s fifth-place finish not only earned him a transfer spot, but dirt track’s traditional honor of a National Number. The 25-lap Main Event was a battle not only for top honors, but to keep it on two wheels. Although challenging, Johnson actually prefers the rougher tracks. Once again the two-time Grand National Champion’s starts helped him in a big way and with multiple restarts, he kept making progress forward. A rider error further helped that and moved him into third before the third red flag. On that restart, Johnson decided to tuck in behind the leaders rather than take a risky outside line that would either put him in the lead or back in the pack. He waited patiently for the leaders to make a mistake as well as held off a challenger to take his second podium this season, and his fourth with the team. At the start of the Main, Hayden got off to a good start, as well. With many riders in the mix – sometimes three- or four-wide on the small track – there were multiple position changes throughout the race. The road racer with dirt track roots kept fighting, ultimately crossing the line eighth in just his second AFT Twins race. The Estenson Racing squad gets a weekend off before heading to Lima, Ohio, for the Lima Half-Mile on Saturday, June 29. Jake Johnson – AFT Twins #5: “From where we started the day and where we’ve been most of the season, it feels good to get on the podium. We’ve still got some work to do, obviously, on the bigger tracks, but it’s definitely a big confidence booster. The track was gnarly. As far as my riding ability and fitness and all that stuff, I think I’m doing all right. Lima is next, so it’s going to be just as gnarly as this, but three times as big. That’s encouraging. I think we learned some things today that can help us for those kinds of tracks. We changed the setup a lot. It made a difference, but I think today a lot of it just came down to squeezing the tank and just hanging on and going for it. I had to do that a couple times today. Being that close to where you can smell a win… It kind of stinks, but definitely needed that good finish. We’ve had some rough rounds lately, so to get back on the box is definitely good.” Roger Hayden – AFT Twins #195: “I’m really happy with the day, to make the Main and get a top ten. That was my goal – to make the Main, but the day started out a little rough. I was 21st in the first practice, but was just gradually getting better and better. The crew did a great job making the bike better as the day went on. I learned a lot in the Main. It makes me want to do a lot more races now. I’m just thankful to Tim and the team for this opportunity. The track was brutal. I’ve never ridden something like that before, so I needed all 25 laps for the practice. But we did good, so we’re happy.”
Good Job Roger!