Photography by Andrea Wilson

Josh Herrin and Roger Lee Hayden both wanted the win bad and it showed. On the final lap the two riders, long in the long shadow cast by Josh Hayes, emerged in an epic last-lap battle. The two banged, out-braked and ran wide several times and finally it was Herrin holding strong against relentless pressure to take his third victory of the season, by a scant 0.093 seconds over Hayden. This one was likely his sweetest win. Hayes battled up front and led at times, but in the closing laps he fell just off the lead battle, brought closer on the final lap because of the way the two in front of him were fighting.

As a result of his exciting win, Herrin moved to within two points of Hayes in the championship battle. One almost senses as the season makes the turn to its homestretch Herrin senses how few races remain to make a run at Hayes and the title.

Martin Cardenas took fourth, but the Yoshimura Suzuki rider was never in the hunt for the win, falling off the pace of the leading trio after the first few laps. He was 14 seconds behind at the end.

Danny Eslick took a lonely fifth and Larry Pegram came out on top of a great four-rider scrum over sixth. Pegram beat out David Anthony, Chris Fillmore and Geoff May. Taylor Knapp rounded out the top ten.

In what was the race of the season so far it was Herrin getting out front early, with him and Hayes trading the point once on the first lap. It remained fairly stable for the first half of the race that featured a pace at qualifying speeds. The second half was when things really heated up.

First Hayden moved up to pass Hayes for second on lap seven and the two battled back and forth, with Hayden almost running into Hayes and being forced to stand it up and nearly running off the track. Then Hayes moved up and he and Herrin traded blows for the lead. On any given lap there were several position changes among the leaders.

With five laps to go Hayes finally took over the lead and appeared that he might pull another disappearing act, but then Herrin held on the gas into turn one and the two went elbow to elbow at triple-digit speed at nearly full lean the entire way through. It was one of the most exciting battles through a turn all season.

“It was kind of scary,” admitted Herrin of the turn one battle. “but I knew that I had to just try my hardest to get the most laps led. I already gave up the (pole) point yesterday and many this year for the championship. Giving up the most laps led isn’t something I want to do, cause Josh is real good at that. I knew that I had to attack while I was up front.”

“It was kind of sketchy because of the 1000 riders I feel like I lean my head off the farthest on the side of the bike and it’s hard to see on the other side how close they are. So I just tried to stay as tight as I could and not run wide. But yeah, it was real fun.”

After that point you could tell Hayes was having a problem. His back end slipped several times under acceleration. He was the only rider to gamble with the hard tire, thinking he would have an advantage late in the race.  Instead he found he couldn’t match Herrin and Hayes driving out of the turns.

“I knew I could do high 50s on the hard tire,” Hayes said. “I didn’t think any of those other guys would be able to do 51-flat more than three or four laps on the medium. The medium hung in there a little longer than I thought so tomorrow I think we’ll all be even.”

For Hayden he was happy to battle for the lead the entire way, but disappointed he couldn’t close the deal.

“It’s a little bummer to be that close to winning,” Hayden said when asked how he felt about second. “You know, I felt good. I made some attempts there on the last lap… On turn five I thought I got the bike stopped enough. I didn’t want to outbrake him and overshoot it. I ran just wide enough that he could sneak under me.”

With four races to go the championship is still very much up for grabs between the top three. Herrin is now just two points behind Hayes (245-243) and Cardenas is still in the hunt with 225 points.

AMA Pro Superbike results from Miller Motorsports Park – Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013
1 2 Josh Herrin Dublin, GA Yamaha R1 16 Laps
2 54 Roger Hayden Owensboro, KY Suzuki GSX-R1000 +00.093
3 1 Josh Hayes Gulfport, MS Yamaha R1 +00.783
4 36 Martin Cardenas Medellin, Colombia Suzuki GSX-R1000 +14.575
5 23 Danny Eslick Broken Arrow, OK Suzuki GSX-R1000 +30.028
6 72 Larry Pegram Hebron, OH Yamaha R1 +32.623
7 25 David Anthony Murrieta, CA Suzuki GSX-R1000 +32.799
8 11 Chris Fillmore Oxford, MI KTM RC8R +33.013
9 99 Geoff May Gainesville, GA EBR 1190RS +33.137
10 44 Taylor Knapp Lapeer, MI KTM RC8R +45.073

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