Photography by Andrea Wilson
In a wild and potentially championship changing race, Martin Cardenas took advantage of issues suffered by his main competitors and earned his second AMA Pro Superbike victory of the season Sunday at Miller Motorsports Park. The Yoshimura Suzuki rider withstood a desperate challenge by Roger Hayden on the final lap and appeared to have a big enough cushion to hang on when Hayden made it easy on him after his National Guard/Jordan Suzuki broke with a few turns to go. Hayden was able to coast home in second. Josh Herrin finished a distant third, missing the setup that earned him the victory in Saturday’s race.
The biggest story of the day was a crash suffered by series leader Josh Hayes. Hayes was pushing hard, leading and had already established gap on the other riders on lap three when he suddenly lost the front end of his Monster Energy Yamaha and fell off, his arms reaching out to protect his fall. Hayes’ R1 was deep in a gravel trap and it took him some time to get back in the race, but he did finish and salvaged an 18th-place finish and the valuable three points that go with it. Those points could make a crucial difference at the end of the season.
The crash cost Hayes the series lead. He dropped to third in the standings, with Herrin now leading with 264 points, Cardenas nine points back with 255 and Hayes third with 248. Even though Hayes is 16 points out of the lead he still controls his own destiny and could come back to win the championship, but he’ll likely have to win all three of the remaining races.
The race began with Hayes jumping out to an early lead, seemingly looking to breakaway in an effort to keep the rest of the top riders from being able to draft him and get into turn one braking battles. The strategy was working to plan when on the third lap he suddenly lost front end traction braking for a medium speed left hand turn.
“I was just pushing too hard,” Hayes admitted after the race. “I hadn’t felt a bobble or anything in that turn before. I’ve had such a string of good luck to even get to be back in this championship chase, I’m not going to get too upset when something doesn’t always go the way I planned. That’s part of racing.”
At that point Hayden assumed the lead with a little over a second gap on Cardenas and Herrin.
Hayden looked to be clearly in control of the race, but only he and his crew knew trouble was brewing. Ten laps into the race Hayden’s bike began running off song and didn’t have its normal power. That allowed Cardenas to close in fairly rapidly. He tucked in behind Hayden for a few laps, feeling no pressure from Herrin, who had fallen back.
Cardenas bided his time and took the lead for the first time with two laps to go. Hayden immediately fought back, taking back the lead for just a second before running wide in a turn.
“He went a little bit deep and I went inside,” said Cardenas of his move out of turn five to take the lead for good with a half lap remaining. “I was pushing that lap as hard as I could because I knew he was going to try to overtake me again. I didn’t know that he had a problem and I ended up winning and I’m very happy for me and the whole Yoshimura Suzuki team.”
Hayden said he didn’t know what happened to the bike.
“It started with about six laps to go,” he said. “It started getting slower and slower out of the flat corners and really started backing in bad under the brakes. The last lap I got on the throttle and nothing was really happening. I don’t know what it was, if it was a cylinder tying up or what was happening. With about four laps to go I really didn’t think I was going to finish. Obviously I’m about as disappointed as you can get. I felt like I had the pace to win today.”
Cardenas’ official margin of victory was 4.587 seconds, even though that didn’t really tell how close the race was until the final turns where Hayden’s bike lost all power. Had Hayden’s bike slowed even a turn earlier Herrin would have caught him. He was only a second behind the coasting Hayden at the checkered flag.
Jordan Suzuki’s Danny Eslick was fourth, 24 seconds back from Cardenas. Geoff May finished just ahead of his EBR teammate Aaron Yates in fifth and David Anthony was the first privateer finishing seventh, just a half-second behind Yates. Taylor Knapp, Chris Clark and Dustin Dominguez rounded out the top ten.
There’s a month-plus break for the Superbike riders, who will next see action at New Jersey Motorsports Park on Sept. 13-15.
AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike results from Miller Motorsports Park – Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013
1 36 Martin Cardenas Medellin, Colombia Suzuki GSX-R1000 16 Laps
2 54 Roger Hayden Owensboro, KY Suzuki GSX-R1000 +04.587
3 2 Josh Herrin Dublin, GA Yamaha R1 +05.841
4 23 Danny Eslick Broken Arrow, OK Suzuki GSX-R1000 +24.190
5 99 Geoff May Gainesville, GA EBR 1190RS +29.198
6 20 Aaron Yates Milledgeville, GA EBR 1190RS +33.573
7 25 David Anthony Murrieta, CA Suzuki GSX-R1000 +34.090
8 44 Taylor Knapp Lapeer, MI KTM RC8R +38.506
9 6 Chris Clark Las Vegas, NV Suzuki GSX-R1000 +54.721
10 68 Dustin Dominguez Norman, OK EBR 1190RS +56.128