Hayes tops Infineon Superbike grid despite crash

172667.jpg

Hayes tops Infineon Superbike grid despite crash

May 14, 2011 MOTORSPORTS PAGEJohn Crowley
CSNBayArea.com

SONOMA -- Josh Hayes showed a rare moment of vulnerability Saturday in final qualifying for the AMA American Superbike main event at Infineon Raceway. Shortly after claiming the pole with a lap of 1 minute, 35.717 seconds, the reigning series champion crashed in Turn 4 -- sending his Yamaha R1 cartwheeling into the grass and bringing his session to a dramatic end.

Perhaps Hayes, who said earlier in the week that his strategy was to lead every lap of every session at the 12-turn wine-country road course, was trying to eclipse his pole-winning time from last year (1:36.711). In 2009 he swept the AMA Northern Cal event to launch his first championship-winning season.

"Quite honestly, I don't know, I went down into Turn 4 there, broke kinda early, turned it in and I kinda lost the front," Hayes said.

"It was the longest, slowest crash ... about in the middle of it, I was like, 'I think I'm going to crash.' And the next thing I know I'm sliding down the pavement. Unfortunately, it tore the bike up a little bit."

Hayes was OK after the tumble and tried to ride his bike back to the pits but the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha required a lift from the crashtruck.

Despite the setback, Hayes was unconcerned.

He'll start No. 1 on the front row alongside Suzuki's Tommy Hayden (1:36.171), who qualified second, fellow Suzuki GSX-R1000 rider Blake Young (1:36.829) and Petaluma's Ben Bostrom (1:36.845), riding for Jordan Suzuki.

"We're pretty confident," Hayes said. "We've been in this position before. (The temperature) was pretty cool this morning, but the bike worked well, things were hooked up, I found some good clean racetrack to work with, which is a big help around here."

Counting last year's tandem-victory (AMA hosts main events on Saturday and Sunday), Hayes has won three of the last four AMA Pro Road Racing SuperBike on the 2.32-mile road course.

"I just feel like we're back where we were last year," Hayes said. "We're still going to look and see if we can make some improvements, but we're pretty confident with what we have."

Lafayette native Steve Rapp will start fifth on his BMW S1000.

In Daytona Sportbike qualifying, Jason DiSalvo (Ducati 848) topped the field with a lap of 1:39.257, followed by Josh Herrin (Yamaha YXF-R61:39.383), Jake Holden (Ducati1:39.444) and Danny Eslick (Suzuki GXX-R6001:40.182).

Benny Solis (Honday CBR600RR1:42.413) and David Gaviria (Yamaha YZF-Rg1:43.265 were 1-2 in AMA Pro SuperSport qualifying.

Report: Melancon rubbed Giants teammates wrong way early in season

Report: Melancon rubbed Giants teammates wrong way early in season

This past offseason, the Giants overhauled the back of their bullpen. Out went mainstays Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez. In came prized free agent Mark Melancon.

It was supposed to be a seamless transition for one of the most reliable closers in baseball.

But nearly three months in, Melancon is one of many Giants players struggling while the team flounders in last place in the NL West with a 27-51 record.

And it appears Melancon's relationship with his new teammates didn't get off to a great start.

Melancon "rubbed some teammates the wrong way early in the season" by canceling a longstanding pregame stretching session with the other relievers that was implemented long before he joined the team, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

That's not the only stretching-related issue to impact the Giants. Manager Bruce Bochy had to get involved when several veterans were reportedly late on multiple occasions for the team stretching session.

“I dropped the ball. I’ve been doing this so long, you take for granted that they know what I want. These guys were used to doing it how they’ve done it — ‘I have my own routine. I’m not going to stretch.’ But we do stretch as a team here. They all have to be out there,” Bochy said.

Closers are known to have unique routines and Bochy addressed that as well.

“Sometimes other relievers … maybe they get a little taken aback by it. I don’t know what (closer) doesn’t have a routine like that,” Bochy said.

General Manager Bobby Evans addressed the claim that Melancon is rubbing teammates the wrong way and defended his closer's role in the clubhouse.

“To whatever degree it hasn’t manifested itself or to the extent it’s manifested itself in the perception of some negatively, I can assure you that was not Mark’s intention. Mark is a team guy,” Evans said.

Melancon, who has a 4.58 ERA and 11 saves in 15 chances this season, has three years and $53 million left on his contract with the Giants.

Forecasting who should and will win 2017 NBA awards

Forecasting who should and will win 2017 NBA awards

The private jets have arrived, most of the swank parties are on and the red carpet has been laid. The NBA is set to announce from New York the winners of its individual awards Monday night at 6 p.m. on TNT.

Rapper Drake, a very public fan of the NBA, will serve as the host. Among the presenters are actors Nick Cannon, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Jesse Williams, as well as athletes Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce. In addition, Nicki Minaj is scheduled as the music guest.

The NBA clearly wants to make a splash in its inaugural show.

Here is our forecast for the six major awards to be presented:

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER:
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks: Rare combination of defensive skill, offensive tools and superior athleticism. Began the season as a Top-50 player, ended it in Top 15.

Rudy Gobert, Jazz: Still raw offensively, arguably the best rim protector in the NBA made appreciable improvement on defense. He’s what Dwight Howard used to be.

Nikola Jokic, Nuggets: Improved enough to be mentioned among best European centers ever to reach the NBA. He’s only 22 and bound to get even better.

Should win: Antetokounmpo.

Will win: Antetokounmpo.

SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR:
Eric Gordon, Rockets: Improved conditioning and revived his career after offseason trade from Pelicans. He finished No. 2 among NBA bench scorers.

Andre Iguodala, Warriors: WD-40 for whatever the league’s best team needs, whether it’s offense or defense or leadership. Not among the top 15 bench scorers.

Lou Williams, Rockets: Ace shooter split season between woeful Lakers and playoff-bound Rockets. Led all bench scorers in scoring. Plays no defense.

Should win: Iguodala.

Will win: Gordon.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Rudy Gobert, Jazz: See above.

Draymond Green, Warriors: Best team defender in the league, finished second in the balloting the past two seasons. Got better, making several game-saving defensive plays.

Kawhi Leonard, Spurs: Best on-ball defender in the league. Won the award in each of the past two seasons. Defensive numbers dropped a bit this season.

Should win: Green.

Will win: Green.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks: Second-round draft pick evolved to become starting PG on playoff team. Showed respectable two-way ability and the savvy of a veteran.

Joel Embiid, Sixers: Hands down, most impressive rookie in the league and future franchise player. Played only 31 of 82 games, though. Does that constitute a season?

Dario Saric, Sixers: Impressive, multi-skilled forward with a smooth touch and a nice feel for the game. Two-time Rookie of the month. Played 81 games.

Should win: Saric.

Will win: Saric.

COACH OF THE YEAR:
Mike D’Antoni, Rockets: Took over a dramatically revamped team, implemented his style and far exceeded reasonable expectations. Co-winner in a vote of coaches.

Gregg Popovich, Spurs: Still the league’s gold standard and once again got the most of his team while simultaneously phasing out the old and installing the new.

Erik Spoelstra, Heat: 30-11 second half among best recoveries in NBA history, pulling bottom-five team into the playoff race until final day. Co-winner in vote of coaches.

Should win: D’Antoni.

Will win: D’Antoni.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER:
James Harden, Rockets: Officially became PG for the first time and led league in assists while operating a new offense without sacrificing scoring. Improved on defense, from abysmal to almost satisfactory.

Kawhi Leonard, Spurs: Probably the best two-way player in the league moved into leadership role and hardly skipped a beat. Does it all without flash, practically undercover. A treasure.

Russell Westbrook, Thunder: Most scintillating player in the league, constantly in overdrive. Set record for most triple-double in a season, while averaging a triple-double for the season.

Should win: Harden.

Will win: Westbrook.