Photography by Larry Lawrence
Monster Energy Yamaha rider Josh Hayes became the first rider in the 33-year history of AMA Superbike racing at Road America to win five straight. Hayes had to work harder for this win than most. After a bad start he worked his way up from third past teammate Josh Herrin and eventually by series leader Martin Cardenas. He then had to hold off a charging Cardenas in the closing laps to sweep the doubleheader at Road America.
Cardenas made a valiant run late race after falling to over 2.4 seconds behind he narrowed the gap to just 0.818 at the checkered flag.
Josh Herrin ran second early, but finished a distant third, 8.191 seconds behind Hayes. Suzuki rider Roger Hayden was a lonely fourth and his teammate Danny Eslick fifth.
Hayes seemed to bog his Yamaha off the line giving Cardenas a clear path to first into turn one at the start. Herrin followed the Yoshimura Suzuki rider with Hayes minimizing the damage by running third. A few turns in Hayes moved past Herrin for second and immediately began pressuring Cardenas.
Hayes showed Cardenas a wheel on both the inside and outside; he was all over the Suzuki rider. Finally on the third lap Hayes tucked in on the draft of Cardenas’ Suzuki and out-braked him into turn one.
From that point on Hayes gradually opened a gap. Once in the lead he went a half-second faster than Cardenas. By lap four he was already 1.6 seconds ahead. Herrin stayed in touch with Cardenas in the battle for second. Roger Hayden was next in fourth followed by Danny Eslick and Larry Pegram.
On lap three EBR racer Geoff May had an odd crash where he went down and the bike continued down and across the track. KTM’s Taylor Knapp had a second straight DNF due to mechanical. He was out today after four laps.
In the closing laps Cardenas closed the gap, one lap going nearly a full second faster than Hayes. With two to go the gap was just 1.1 seconds, but Hayes responded and held on to have a comfortable enough of a margin that he didn’t have to worry about the draft coming up the front straight.
“When I was finally able to get by I was able to string together a couple of good laps,” Hayes said of his race today with Cardenas. “I was trying really, really hard and got really tight. I was definitely struggling even from the halfway flag on. It was just me trying really hard and hanging on and gripping bars real tight. My right arm is pretty worked. I was squeezing the brakes really hard late in the corners and it was pretty hard to maintain.
“I was starting to panic a little bit when he started closing that gap up. I was just trying to relax on that last lap. I never really looked back. I had a pretty bad moment in eight and thought I’d thrown away the race. I tried to come up with a game plan because I thought he was right on me. I looked back and realized I had a little bit of room and just tried to ride the second half of the lap clean.”
With his sweep of the weekend Hayes is back in championship contention. Coming into the weekend in 18th, he leaves Elkhart Lake fourth in the standings and just 34 points behind Cardenas. Herrin is second 13 points behind the leader.
The series next moves to Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Alabama, on June 21-23.
AMA Pro Superbike results – Road America – Sunday, June 02, 2013
1 1 Josh Hayes Gulfport, MS Yamaha R1 12 Laps
2 36 Martin Cardenas Medellin, Colombia Suzuki GSX-R1000 +00.818
3 2 Josh Herrin Dublin, GA Yamaha R1 +08.191
4 54 Roger Hayden Owensboro, KY Suzuki GSX-R1000 +19.242
5 23 Danny Eslick Broken Arrow, OK Suzuki GSX-R1000 +27.707
6 72 Larry Pegram Hebron, OH Yamaha R1 +31.210
7 25 David Anthony Murrieta, CA Suzuki GSX-R1000 +37.482
8 11 Chris Fillmore Oxford, MI KTM RC8R +37.551
9 20 Aaron Yates Milledgeville, GA EBR 1190RS +53.144 2
10 13 Cory West Eureka Springs, AR EBR 1190RS +58.421