Photography by Andrea Wilson
Saturday’s AMA Pro Superbike final was in doubt for about three turns. That’s how long it took Josh Hayes to get past holeshot winner Martin Cardenas. After that pass Hayes began sprinting away on his factory Monster Energy Yamaha R1, opening a gap and monitoring his lead to the flag and ultimately winning by 3.984 seconds over Cardenas.
The runner-up finish, however, put Cardenas into the points lead.
It marked the fourth straight AMA Pro Superbike win at Road America for Hayes, tying a record held by Mat Mladin. Hayes could set a new record with a victory Sunday.
Even though the win was convincing, it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
“I was pretty nervous coming into the race and wasn’t feeling real good,” Hayes admitted. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been racing. Everything was going great last time and it didn’t end that well, so I had a lot of nerves. I felt like I rode pretty well. At one point the guys showed me a little bit of false gap, so I kind of relaxed a little bit and I came back around and that gap had shrank considerable and I panicked a little and had to change my rhythm twice. That was pretty tough once you back off to go back to putting down hard laps again.”
For a couple of laps Cardenas went faster than Hayes, but the Colombian couldn’t string together enough fast laps to catch Hayes.
“Josh was very fast the first few laps and he gapped us,” Cardenas explained. “I tried to keep the pressure all the way and I think I had a good rhythm. The bike is working really good. I’m very happy with the result, but we’ll try to do a little bit better tomorrow. Hopefully we can.”
There was a great battle for third with Roger Hayden and Larry Pegram trading the position several times - this after early third-place runner and former series leader Josh Herrin ran off the track on lap nine and dropped all the way aback to eighth place. In the end Hayden used stronger drives out of the corners to pull away from Pegram.
“In the beginning I made a lot of mistakes,” Hayden admitted. “These guys got a gap on me and were slowing pulling away. I made another big mistake and Larry [Pegram] was on me. The last few laps I was just holding him off. I’m pretty disappointed with third place to be honest; I was so far back and didn’t ride very good. “
Danny Eslick took a lonely fifth. Herrin, who led the series coming into the race, fought back to get by Geoff May to take sixth. David Anthony, Chris Fillmore and Cory West rounded out the top ten.
A notable non finisher was Taylor Knapp, who had some mechanical issues on the factory KTM.
The battle for the final podium was lost for Pegram at the end of the back straight.
“I got into Canada Corner hot,” Pegram explained. “I was thinking about trying to make a move on him and I didn’t want to run into him so I just had to go wide. We’re just struggling for some reason. I’m not sure why.”
Herrin explained what happened to lose him the series lead.
“It might have been the bike it might have been me,” Herrin said of missing the gear. “It ran off from sixth gear and went into neutral going into turn one. It lifted the back tire up and side swapped and I couldn’t control it and ran straight off. I was really, really close to crashing. I just wanted to make sure everything was working on the bike when I went back out. Once it seemed alright I put my head down and tried to catch as many guys as I could.”
The standings shifted considerably after this race. Cardenas now leads the standings by nine points (80-71) over Herrin. Hayes vaulted all the way up from 18th to sixth, although he is still 40 points out of the series lead.
Racing at Road America resumes Sunday.
Race 1 – AMA Pro Superbike – Road America, June 1, 2013
1 1 Josh Hayes Gulfport, MS Yamaha R1 13 Laps
2 36 Martin Cardenas Medellin, Colombia Suzuki GSX-R1000 +03.984
3 54 Roger Hayden Owensboro, KY Suzuki GSX-R1000 +22.297
4 72 Larry Pegram Hebron, OH Yamaha R1 +23.106
5 23 Danny Eslick Broken Arrow, OK Suzuki GSX-R1000 +31.975
6 2 Josh Herrin Dublin, GA Yamaha R1 +34.055
7 99 Geoff May Gainesville, GA EBR 1190RS +34.802
8 25 David Anthony Murrieta, CA Suzuki GSX-R1000 +44.547
9 11 Chris Fillmore Oxford, MI KTM RC8R +44.570 2
10 13 Cory West Eureka Springs, AR EBR 1190RS +1:05.450
Standings after three of 15 rounds
1. Cardenas, 80.
2. Herrin, 71.
3. Pegram, 60.
4. Eslick, 50.
5. Clark, 41.