Team Graves Yamaha's Tommy Aquino survived a nasty crash on Thursday to take the top spot in Daytona SportBike qualifying on a warm, overcast afternoon at New Jersey Motorsports Park.Aquino fell in the promoter practice, with the rear tire of his Graves' Yamaha R6 running over his throat and leaving a nasty abrasion. But today he was untouchable in a session in which the top eight riders were covered by half a second and the top 14 riders finished on the same second.Aquino lapped the 2.25-mile Thunderbolt Raceway course in 1:23.502, just .023 of a second faster than Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki's Roger Lee Hayden.Then came a few surprises, the first of which was South African Clinton Seller. In his first AMA road race, Seller rode the Markbilt Racing Yamaha in place of the injured Melissa Paris to the third fastest time. Paris broke both bones in her lower leg in a first turn melee at Virginia International Raceway three weeks ago. She remains on crutches.The second surprise was that neither of the championship contenders made Superpole. Bruce Rossmeyer Daytona Racing/RMR Buell's Danny Eslick qualified 14th after having his fast time disallowed for passing under a waving flag. But M4 Suzuki's Martin Cardenas fared even worse. The Colombian withdrew from the weekend with complications of hand surgery, effectively handing Eslick the SportBike crown.Cardenas had surgery 15 days ago, following his crash at VIR, but the scar was coming apart and he was worried about infection."I think the better thing to do is to stop for this weekend and heal up properly for next season," he said. Asked if he was done for the weekend, he said, "For the weekend, yes."After riding to the 21st fastest time in qualifying, Cardenas made the decision not to ride. He went to the medical center, where his scar was cleaned up."I'll try to keep it dry and tomorrow I'm going to go back and clean it again. Hopefully no infection is in it."Reflecting on the season, he said, "Yeah, it was a very good season. Unfortunately I made a mistake, a very stupid mistake, at VIR and I got this injury. The year didn't finish the way I wanted to but things are like that. Hopefully, next season will be no problem."Eslick came to New Jersey with a 17-point lead on Cardenas.Josh Herrin rode the second Team Graves Yamaha to the fourth fastest time, one up on Bobby Fong (Yam).Erion Honda's Jake Zemke was sixth, then came M4 Suzuki's Jason DiSalvo, who had an identical time to Factory Aprilia Millennium Technologies' Chaz Davies, the final rider on the lead half second.Bazzaz Performance's Steve Rapp (Yam) and Latus Racing's Taylor Knapp (Bue) filled out the top ten.

Results:

1. Tommy Aquino (Yamaha) 1:23.502

2. Roger Hayden (Kawasaki) 1:23.525

3. Clinton Seller (Yamaha) 1:23.837

4. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) 1:23.889

5. Bobby Fong (Yamaha) 1:23.898

6. Jake Zemke (Honda) 1:23.904

7. Jason DiSalvo (Suzuki) 1:23.968

8. Chaz Davies (Aprilia) 1:24.968

9. Steve Rapp (Yamaha) 1:24.162

10. Taylor Knapp (Buell) 1:24.164

AMA Pro Racing Headlines

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.

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