DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 10, 2012) - It was no shock that the AMA GoPro Daytona SportBike action was fast and furious at Infineon Raceway. Martin Cardenas (GEICO Suzuki) and Jason DiSalvo (Castrol Latus Motors Racing Triumph) split the wins at in Sonoma in what were difficult races with hot paces. The two veterans had the most speed in the class and made it very tough for their rivals to hang on.
Cardenas won on Saturday, holding off an assault from DiSalvo on the 2.32-mile circuit. The Colombian extended his win streak to three with the victory.
It wasn't easy, though. Early leader Cameron Beaubier (Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha) showed he could run up front despite an injury that forced him to miss the Atlanta event. DiSalvo and Cardenas followed closely in the early going, eventually shaking the Yamaha pilot and relegating him to third place. Cardenas and DiSalvo traded the lead a few times as both men were riding aggressively and making a few mistakes but Cardenas made a pass for the lead with three to go - an unplanned pass that just happened to be there for the 2010 series champion. He then put in some great final laps to win by 1.460 seconds.
"It was a pretty tough race. Jason was fast in some sections of the track and I was catching up in some others. It was hard and we exchanged positions three or four times," said Cardenas. "It's been awesome all year long and I hope to continue."
It was Martin's 20th AMA Pro win and 19th in the GoPro Daytona SportBike class. Cardenas holds the record for most Daytona SportBike wins.
DiSalvo had an excellent race on the Triumph. He'd shown promise all year, finishing second at Daytona, but had two mechanical issues at Road Atlanta.
"The pace for the race was pretty hefty and Infineon is a physical racetrack," said DiSalvo. "I have to give it to Martin. He rode a great race. We went back and forth but on that last lap he dropped the hammer."
Cameron Beaubier #6 leads Jason DiSalvo #40 and Martin Cardenas #36 during one of the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike Series races at round 3 of the AMA Road Racing series at Infineon Raceway. AMA Pro Road Racing photo by Brian J. Nelson.
Beaubier consolidated third, showing courage despite considerable pain. He would withdraw from the meet after his knee issues flared up. "I felt really good on both the starts. I felt fresh," said Beaubier. "A little bit before the halfway mark, my knee started to tense up and I felt really bad, so I fell off their pace a little bit. The last six laps, I was just trying to get it to the checkered flag." The battle for fourth went to Dane Westby (M4 Suzuki), who topped points rival Tommy Hayden (Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha) by just 0.2 seconds. Westby nailed the last few corners to hold off the Kentuckian.
Cory West, Bobby Fong, and J.D. Beach comprised the next group. West (Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki) put in a good ride and won the battle to take sixth over the resurgent Fong (Meen Motorsports) and young rider Beach (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull). DAYTONA® 200 winner Joey Pascarella ran up front early but finished ninth on the SGA Yamaha. Veteran Jake Zemke earned a top ten for Ducshop Ducati, making it four brands in the top ten.
On Sunday, DiSalvo ran away with a 9.532-second win. His biggest challenger, Cardenas, crashed out in the closing laps.
Polesitter DiSalvo got a great launch on both starts of the red-flagged race. With Cardenas mired in the pack, the New Yorker got away and earned his lead with solid laps on a clean track. Pascarella and Hayden gave chase. Hayden was able to work past Pascarella on lap five, but couldn't close the gap to DiSalvo and settled in. Further back in the field, Cardenas was working his way towards the front after a disappointing restart. Cardenas was able to turn the same lap times as DiSalvo, but the Colombian could not work his way up to second place until midway through the 22-lap event. When he made it to second, Cardenas trailed DiSalvo by 5.2 seconds to start lap 14.
Cardenas was unwilling to concede victory to DiSalvo and was able to cut into DiSalvo's lead, but crashed at the Esses with 4 laps to go. Hayden, who finished second to DiSalvo, was able to close within 12 points of Cardenas in the points. After the race, DiSalvo said, "We made some adjustments to the bike. They were small but critical. It gave me the comfort to push all race long. I backed it down at the end because I knew I had a big gap."
Hayden was able to earn his best result yet in his fill-in ride for Y.E.S/Graves/Yamaha's Garrett Gerloff. He was a major beneficiary of the first red flag. When Zemke crashed, Hayden ran off course and returned to the track as one of the last riders in the field. When the race began with riders in their original grid positions, he was able to take advantage of a tire compound switch from Saturday to improve his pace. "Jason had his head down and wanted to get away. I tried to latch onto him but he was in his own league today," said Hayden. "It feels good, though. It was a big points turnaround for us. I'm still getting used to the 600 but I'm enjoying it."
Pascarella was able to finish third despite a hurt shoulder. "We had a crash Friday in first qualifying. I've had a shoulder that's messed up and I landed on it," said Pascarella. "It was super sore. I knew I had the pace to do it. I just didn't know if it could last."
West won a dogfight for fourth, passing Fong for the position in the last corners. Beach also snuck past Fong in the run the checkers to earn fifth. Dane Westby (M4 Suzuki) had a bizarre run to seventh. He had tangled with Cardenas in turn 11 early and fell, but remounted and passed numerous riders. Westby is now third in points, 19 behind Cardenas. Zemke crashed before the red flag, but was able to get repairs and restart from his original grid position. He finished eighth. Michael Beck (Full Tuck Racing) showed well for his small team. The Californian garnered his best result of the year and second top ten of the year. Benny Solis (Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki) rounded out the top ten, topping Huntley Nash (LTD Racing) who gained four positions from Saturday's race. Jake Gagne (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull) was second early on Sunday before clutch issues forced him to retire. That followed on the heels of his Saturday crash in what was a bad luck weekend for him.
Top 10 Finishers from Infineon Raceway:
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Point Standings After Round 3
Year-End Award Updates
Benny Solis has taken the points lead for the $5,000 Saddlemen Rookie of the Year award program. Dane Westby has now logged 967.53 miles in 342 laps, passing Beck in the chase for the $5,000 Sunoco "Go The Distance" Award.
Current Sunoco "Go The Distance" Award Standings After Round 3
AMA Pro Road Racing will next head west for Round 4 with a stop at Tooele, Utah. The BigM Weekend will take place at Miller Motorsports Park in three weeks time, May 26-28. For tickets and event information, please visit http://www.millermotorsportspark.com
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