BRASELTON, GA, APR 21 - Geico Suzuki's Martin Cardenas kept his perfect 2012 qualifying record intact by adding the Road Atlanta pole to the one he earned last month at Daytona International Speedway.
On a cool, overcast Saturday morning, Cardenas wasn't able to match his Friday time, but he came close; his Saturday 1:29.104 wasn't far off the 1:28.938 from Friday. More to the point, no one else could match or better his Friday time. In fact very few riders bettered their Friday times. So Cardenas had his third career pole and the point that goes with it.
"Today I tried to better the lap that I did yesterday, but it wasn't possible," he said. "I think I wasn't good enough in the last sector, the last braking zone. But the time from yesterday was good enough. I think the bike is working pretty good. Things are looking good for the race."
Cardenas wasn't blaming the conditions, which were similar to Friday's.
"The last two laps you could see on the helmet a little bit of moisture, but the track was completely dry," he said. "Yeah, I think the conditions were the same as yesterday."
Latus Motors Racing's Jason DiSalvo put his Triumph Daytona 675 second on the grid based on his Friday time. DiSalvo was .048 sec. slower than Cardenas and lamenting a rookie mistake in his approach to final qualifying.
"I got out there early and ran a pretty good time, the 29-flat, but the rest of the session was kinda my fault," he said. "I was sitting around, kinda waiting for the perfect scenario to get a really big draft and try to get down mid-28s or so. But it never worked out and then I ran out of time." He added, "I should've known better than try to go for the perfect lap when sometimes all you need is one that's good enough."
Ducshop Racing's Jake Zemke kept the Ducati 848EVO on the front row for the home team by qualifying third. Ducshop is located in nearby Marietta, Georgia.
Earning his first ever front row start was Road Race Factory/Red Bull's Jake Gagne, the only rider on the front row to improve his time. Gagne bettered his Friday lap by .778 sec. to finish at 1:29.715 mins.
"I'm excited, I'm pumped being on the front row the first time," Gagne said.
Y.E.S Graves Yamaha's Tommy Hayden shot up the order to finish just off the front row in fifth place. Hayden is Yamaha's lone factory rider in the Daytona Sportbike class this weekend while Garrett Gerloff and Cameron Beaubier recover from injuries.
Next to Hayden are Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki's Benny Solis (1:29.777) and Cory West (1:29.788). M4 Broaster Chicken Suzuki's Dane Westby is at the end of row two and the final rider on the lead second.
AMA Pro Road Race Daytona Sportbike Qualifying:
1. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) 1:28.938
2. Jason DiSalvo (Triumph) 1:28.986
3. Jake Zemke (Ducati) 1:29.601
4. Jake Gagne (Yamaha) 1:29.715
5. Tommy Hayden (Yamaha) 1:29.748
6. Benny Solis (Suzuki) 1:29.777
7. Cory West (Suzuki) 1:29.788
8. Dane Westby (Suzuki) 1:29.875
9. Joey Pascarella (Yamaha) 1:30.026
10. Huntley Nash (Yamaha) 1:30.426