Photography by Andrea Wilson
After two Daytona DNFs to open the season, things looked bleak for defending AMA Pro Superbike Champion Josh Hayes. As it turns out Hayes had nothing to worry about. A string of five straight victories on his Monster Energy Yamaha R1 has moved Hayes into the championship lead and at this point, even though they’re improving, none of his competitors seem to have any answers as to how to stop the Hayes express.
Martin Cardenas might have held on to the points lead for at least one more race, but in a dramatic last lap, he came upon a lapped Dustin Dominguez while running second and seemed to miscalculate where Dominguez would go. As a result Cardenas ran off the track giving up second to a close following Josh Herrin.
Danny Eslick came home a lonely fourth on the National Guard Suzuki. It matched his best result of the season. His Jordan Suzuki teammate Roger Hayden was running for the lead in the early laps, but seemed to have some bike issue and fell back to seventh at the end.
The margin of victory for Hayes at the flag was 4.6 seconds, but he had to work harder than in most races to earn this win.
Herrin led in the early going, but was passed by Hayes going into turn six on the first lap. Hayes then held the lead for three laps before Herrin made a bold pass going through turn one. Herrin was on the ragged edge though, his Yamaha jerking from side to side under hard acceleration.
On lap six it was Hayes going back to the front and this time he was determined to make a split. Two laps later he’d established a big enough gap that he would no longer be threatened in the turn six passing zone. From there he clicked off consistently fast laps to pull clear.
Attention turned to the torrid battle for second between Herrin and Cardenas. At halfway Cardenas took over second. Herrin tried numerous times to get by, but Cardenas was too strong on the brakes.
The critical moment happened through turn one to start the final lap. Cardenas and Herrin came upon Dominguez, who was in the racing line. Cardenas figured Dominguez’ line would carry him more towards the middle of the track, instead he sensed the riders coming behind him and faded to the outside leaving Cardenas nowhere to go except the grass. With that the race for second and the championship points lead was decided.
On his battle with Herrin, Hayes generously praised his teammate for his aggressive riding and improved consistency.
“He was aggressive on the start, which was good,” Hayes said. “I made, not a big mistake, but a small mistake and he capitalized on it and was aggressive again in turn one, which was awesome. That’s what racing is supposed to be. When I was riding behind him I thought he looked more in control and was riding a good pace.”
But Hayes was once again able to control the second half of the race.
“I just seem to have a little more pace, especially when we get ten laps into the race. I still have a little bit left. That’s a lot of years, a lot time and a lot of practice at it.”
Hayes now takes the series lead for the first time this season by a single point over Cardenas and Herrin is only 10 points out of the series lead. Hayden’s championship hopes took a hit with the issues he suffered. He’s now 36 points behind Herrin.
While on paper it looks like there’s a great championship battle, the reality is Hayes is clearly dominant right now and he competition will clearly have to step up in the second half of the season to keep him in sight.
Steve Rapp won the pole for the Vance & Hines XR1200 race.
AMA Pro Superbike results from Mid-Ohio – Saturday, July 13, 2013
1 1 Josh Hayes Gulfport, MS Yamaha R1 21 Laps
2 2 Josh Herrin Dublin, GA Yamaha R1 +04.600
3 36 Martin Cardenas Medellin, Colombia Suzuki GSX-R1000 +05.276
4 23 Danny Eslick Broken Arrow, OK Suzuki GSX-R1000 +24.245
5 99 Geoff May Gainesville, GA EBR 1190RS +36.277
6 20 Aaron Yates Milledgeville, GA EBR 1190RS +36.685
7 11 Chris Fillmore Oxford, MI KTM RC8R +43.186
8 54 Roger Hayden Owensboro, KY Suzuki GSX-R1000 +45.503
9 72 Larry Pegram Hebron, OH Yamaha R1 +1:03.606
10 13 Cory West Eureka Springs, AR EBR 1190RS +1:08.435