Photography by Andrea Wilson
It was a confusing and chaotic start to Saturday’s AMA Pro Superbike race at Barber Motorsports Park, with five riders, including Josh Hayes and Roger Hayden, jumping the start and being assessed a five-second penalty. Yet despite the messy beginning to the race, it ended with an exciting finish. Hayes held off a determined charge by Hayden to win by 0.245 seconds.
Martin Cardenas, who didn’t jump the start and as a result led much of the race on the timing charts even though he wasn’t on the track, finished a distant third. The Colombian continues to lead the standings after five races.
It marked the third straight win for Hayes, but the Monster Energy Yamaha rider was given a good run for his money this time around, and had to work his way up from a poor start. Hayes initially jumped and then tried to stop, just as the light was going green. Regardless of the obstacles, Hayes remained calm and methodically made his way to the front of the field.
Hayes said today’s race was a microcosm of his overall 2013 campaign.
“Kind of like my season, I made it a challenge for myself from the beginning there,” said Hayes, who with the win moved past Pegram into third-place in the standings. “I think the light was held for a long time and I saw Rog creeping and I ended up creeping too. And then I just kind of tried to see how things were going. I wasn’t really looking at lap times; I was kind of racing with the guys who were around me. It seemed like early on we had a lot of grip I felt like things were happening pretty easily. I was making passes pretty handily, I didn’t feel dodgy or anything. I felt pretty good about the way things were going.
“Once I got to the lead I was waiting to see how it was going to turn out. I didn’t know if we were going to get a meatball (flag)… I knew something was coming. Then I saw the +5 on the board and I knew what was going on immediately. So I said, ‘OK, let’s see what we can do.’ I just tried to put together every lap as good as I could.”
When the green was dropped it was obvious a number of riders had jumped the start. Officials determined that Hayes, Hayden, Larry Pegram, Chris Ulrich and Huntley Nash were the offenders. All were assessed a five-second penalty. Oddly, the way the race worked out, only one rider, Pegram, lost a position due to the time penalty.
Hayden led the early laps ahead of Cardenas, Josh Herrin and Hayes as a four-rider break quickly developed. Cardenas briefly took the lead on the second lap, but was re-passed by Hayden a few turns later.
Hayes was the man on the move. First he got by his teammate Herrin and later on the same lap he moved by Cardenas into second. On lap five Hayes caught and passed Hayden with a textbook out-braking maneuver going into Barber’s turn five, perhaps the most popular passing spot on the circuit.
Many expected Hayes to check out again, like he has so many times in recent years, but this time Hayden hung tight with the defending champ and the race was not decided until the final lap. Hayden was close enough to make a move in the final set of turns, but he slipped and lost his drive through turn 15 and ran out of time to mount another charge before the checkered flag.
Hayden was encouraged at being able to run with Hayes the entire race.
“I’m pretty happy,” Hayden said. “The first two races didn’t start out that good. All along I knew we were a lot better than what we showed at Daytona and Road America. Hopefully this is a turnaround for my season. I’ve really been working hard, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Cardenas was a bit surprised he didn’t run better than he did in Saturday’s race.
“The race was a little bit tough,” said the series leader for former winner of this race. “I thought I had a little bit better rhythm going into the race. Early on I found out that I wasn’t as fast as these two guys (Hayes and Hayden). I tried my best to stay as close as possible, but halfway through the race I lost more time and I just tried to finish in the end in third place and to get some points.”
Herrin was a lonely fourth, about four seconds behind Cardenas. Pegram and Chris Fillmore had a great battle much of the way. Pegram actually crossed the line ahead of the KTM rider, but with his penalty for jumping the start he actually was credited with sixth instead. Geoff May, Danny Eslick, David Anthony and Aaron Yates rounded out the top ten.
AMA Pro Superbike results from Barber Motorsports Park, June 22, 2013
1 1 Josh Hayes Gulfport, MS Yamaha R1 21 Laps
2 54 Roger Hayden Owensboro, KY Suzuki GSX-R1000 +00.245
3 36 Martin Cardenas Medellin, Colombia Suzuki GSX-R1000 +13.170
4 2 Josh Herrin Dublin, GA Yamaha R1 +17.091
5 11 Chris Fillmore Oxford, MI KTM RC8R +28.734
6 72 Larry Pegram Hebron, OH Yamaha R1 +33.505
7 99 Geoff May Gainesville, GA EBR 1190RS +34.376
8 23 Danny Eslick Broken Arrow, OK Suzuki GSX-R1000 +40.471
9 25 David Anthony Murrieta, CA Suzuki GSX-R1000 +41.091
10 20 Aaron Yates Milledgeville, GA EBR 1190RS +43.058
1. Cardenas, 126.
2. Herrin, 110.
3. Hayes, 103.
4. Pegram, 90.
5. Hayden, 82.