Photography by Andrea Wilson
It all came down to the final set of turns. Three riders were battling for the win. Martin Cardenas held the lead, but Josh Herrin wanted the position badly. He somehow found a way around Cardenas with a daring last-turn pass bringing Roger Hayden with him. Herrin crossed the line the winner on his Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha over the Suzukis of Roger Hayden and Cardenas in one of the most dramatic finishes of the season.
The victory puts Herrin in firm control of the championship. He now holds a 19-point lead over Cardenas in the standings with just two races to go.
Defending champ Josh Hayes took a big hit to his hopes of defending his title today. He actually crossed the line in first, but like at Mid-Ohio earlier this season, he was assessed a five-second penalty for jumping the start (as was Danny Eslick and Larry Pegram, Pegram on the restart). That meant even though he crossed the line in first, he actually finished fourth on the timing monitors. Hayes is now 28 points out of the lead. With just two races to go is very nearly out of the championship picture.
Chris Fillmore finished fifth on the factory KTM, matching his best result of the season. Danny Eslick, with the jump-start penalty, finished sixth. Then came Aaron Yates, Taylor Knapp, Geoff May and David Anthony, who came back from a hard qualifying crash, rounding out the top 10.
The race was red flagged eight laps in and went through more than an hour delay when Huntley Nash’s bike sprang a leak and he oiled down a couple of turns, barely avoiding crashing on his own oil. Fortunately race officials were quick to throw a red flag and no one crashed on the oil, but it took a couple of attempts to get it cleared.
A critical point of the race came at the original start of the race when Hayes, Eslick and Nash were given a five-second penalty for jumping the start. Additionally Hayes and Herrin both had electrical issues with their Yamahas, possibly to do with launch control. Their machines would not accelerate once in second gear and both had to shut off their bikes and restart them to reset the bike’s computer. That put the factory Yamaha riders at the back of the pack.
Cardenas ran in the lead ahead of Hayden and Eslick (although Eslick with the penalty was in reality running farther down the order). Hayes and Herrin were tearing through the field and by the time the red flag came out they were running seventh and tenth respectively, not accounting for the five second penalty given Hayes.
After a long delay, which included practice laps for the riders to help clear the oil dry off the track, the race was restarted. Hayes was uncharacteristically upset with the call by the AMA and during the red-flag delay he pleaded his case with racing officials. Yamaha lobbied to have the five-second penalty assessed prior to the red flag, but the rulebook dictated the penalty be assessed at the end of the race.
The biggest benefactor of the red flag was Herrin. Instead of working his way up through mid-pack, the restart gave him new life and he made the most of it. He immediately went to the front and then began a race-long battle with Cardenas. The two traded the lead back and forth numerous times throughout the rest of the race with Hayden a very close third.
Hayes eventually worked his way past the lead group, but by the time he did there were only two laps left and he didn’t have enough time to chip away at his five-second deficit. In the end the penelty was enough to put him in fourth, three-seconds behind the leaders.
The real fireworks came in the final turn. Herrin made a dramatic last turn inside pass on Cardenas to get back the lead. Cardenas was forced wide enough that he went up on the rumble strip and lost his drive, allowing Hayden to get by him as well. The Colombian went from first to third in the span of a couple hundred feet of racetrack.
“I just got a really good drive coming out of the carousel, or whatever it’s called, the long left,” Herrin said. “When we went through the esses he (Cardenas) had a little wobble. I went to the outside going under the bridge and then went to the inside and when I got into the lead he kind of gassed it to go back in front of me and then I gassed it to go back in front and we ended up kind of on each other. I thought for a second we were stuck on each other, but luckily I was able to gas it and go back to the inside. It was one of those good last-lap passes that will be on the highlight reel.”
Only the top three riders are still in the championship chase with two races remaining.
AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike results from New Jersey Motorsports Park – Sept. 14, 2013
1 2 Josh Herrin Dublin, GA Yamaha R1 20 Laps
2 54 Roger Hayden Owensboro, KY Suzuki GSX-R1000 +00.456
3 36 Martin Cardenas Medellin, Colombia Suzuki GSX-R1000 +00.623
4 1 Josh Hayes Gulfport, MS Yamaha R1 +03.256 1:21.770 Monster Energy Graves Yamaha
5 11 Chris Fillmore Oxford, MI KTM RC8R +06.288 1:22.979 KTM/HMC Racing
6 23 Danny Eslick Broken Arrow, OK Suzuki GSX-R1000 +07.607
7 20 Aaron Yates Milledgeville, GA EBR 1190RS +16.219
8 44 Taylor Knapp Lapeer, MI KTM RC8R +16.943
9 99 Geoff May Gainesville, GA EBR 1190RS +17.168
10 25 David Anthony Murrieta, CA Suzuki GSX-R1000 +30.858
Standings (after 12 of 14 races)
1. Herrin, 295.
2. Cardenas, 276.
3. Hayes, 267.
4. Hayden, 210.
5. Eslick, 197.