AMA Pro Racing PR:
On a nearly perfect day for racing at Road America, Larry Pegram captured his first AMA Pro Racing National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited victory in 10 years and Martin Cardenas scored his sixth AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL victory of the season on the final day of the Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader.
The American Superbike race featured an epic, four-bike battle royal at the front with Pegram on the No. 72 Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing Ducati 1098R, Mat Mladin on the No. 7 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000, Blake Young on the No. 79 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 and Geoff May on the No. 54 National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000. The four bikes swapped positions throughout the first three-quarters of the race before the fight for the victory became a mano-a-mano duel between Pegram and Mladin.
As he also did at the standing start in Saturday’s first race of the doubleheader, Pegram got an outstanding start from the second row and claimed the lead. Pegram led the first six laps of the 13 lap race before Mladin first took the lead as he went in search of his 10th victory of the season. The second half of the race featured a seesaw battle in which Pegram would power past Mladin heading into Turn 1 at the end of the long front straightaway, and Mladin would return the favor under braking in Turn 5 on each lap.
As a result, Mladin was scored as the leader from Lap 7 through Lap 11. However, the lead changed hands an amazing four times on Lap 8 alone as the two combatants thrilled the Road America fans with their determination to wrestle the lead from one another at every opportunity.
The battle came to a head on the penultimate lap of the race. Pegram took the lead on the front straight heading into Turn 1, but Mladin reclaimed the position in Turn 3. Pegram finally sealed the deal on the run from Turn 3 to Turn 5 and managed to pull away for a 0.342-second victory.
It was Pegram’s first win since April 19, 1999 at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, Calif., and was the third victory of his AMA Pro Racing career. The other win came in 600 SuperSport competition at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo. On September 6, 1998.
“It was definitely a great race,” said Pegram. “I was expecting that I could run the pace, but I wasn’t expecting to lead like that most of the time. I was real comfortable. When Mat would get in front of me, he wouldn’t really get me anywhere. We were pretty even, but I’d catch him in The Carousel (Turns 9 and 10). When we’d go through there, he would gap me in the left-hander after The Carousel. It was weird. He was really getting through there good. It’s been such a long time. I don’t know if that was as good as the first one or not, but I don’t want to wait 10 years for another one.”
For Mladin, who won the opening race of the doubleheader on Saturday, it was just the second time in 11 races this season that he did not stand atop the box. However, it was his 10th podium of the season and he comfortably leads teammate Tommy Hayden (No. 22 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) – who finished seventh today – in the American Superbike championship standings by 110 points, 325-215, with nine races remaining on the season.
“Obviously, it was back-and-forth,” Mladin said. “In the end, we couldn’t get it done. We rode hard and that’s all we could do today.”
Riding the No. 23 Jordan Brand Suzuki GSX-R1000, Aaron Yates caught the lead pack late in the race as his teammate dropped back. Yates came out on top in the fight for the final podium spot with Young, taking third place away in Turn 11 on the final lap. Young fell just after Yates took the spot away, but was not injured in the incident and finished the race in eighth place. It was Yates’ first podium since finishing second in the second race of a doubleheader at Barber Motorsports Park last month.
“We had a pretty decent race there,” Yates said. “The start didn’t go quite like I was hoping. I left a little late, but I managed to just start to get by folks and just started putting in some good laps. We made some changes last night and this morning, so I was able to go out there and ride like I needed to to go fast. Thanks to the Jordan crew for that.
“I couldn’t do much with ‘ol Blake. His little self on that Yoshimura bike was getting it pretty good down the straightaways. I was making a lot of ground through the (Turns) 5, 6 and 7 area. I had a look under the inside of him coming out of The Carousel. I was on the inside for the next turn on one lap, and I knew he’d just get me on the straightaway. On the final lap, I looked again, but I was a little too late getting in there. I just kind of slipped up under him for that right (Turn 11) and I had to get in there and kind of park it. He wasn’t expecting that, for sure, and I guess he had to get on the brake a little hard or something. It looked like he slid down, and I was able to just ride it hard to the end. It feels good to get us up here on the podium for the Jordan Suzuki.”
May made it two Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000s in the top four with a fourth-place performance, for his sixth top-five result of the season. Ben Bostrom finished fifth on the No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1. It was Bostrom’s fifth top five in his past six races and was his sixth top-five run of the season overall.
The next round for American Superbike is scheduled for Sunday, July 5 as part of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Cardenas Wins Daytona SportBike Thriller
In a race where the lead changed hands at least five times on the final lap, Cardenas came away with his sixth AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL victory of the season on the No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600.
After running second for most of the race, Cardenas had an epic final-lap battle with Jake Zemke on the No. 1X Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR. Over the final four miles of the race, Cardenas took the lead from Zemke in Turn 1, but Zemke returned the favor in Turn 5. Cardenas reclaimed the lead from Zemke five turns later, but Zemke got inside position heading into the left-hand Turn 12, which is famously known as “Canada Corner,” and appeared to be headed for Victory Lane.
However, Cardenas had one last burst on the long, uphill front straightaway and won the drag race to the stripe to win by 0.104 seconds. It was the eighth podium in 10 races for Cardenas, who now leads the Daytona SportBike championship standings by 51 points, 255-204, over No. 88 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R rider Jamie Hacking, who finished ninth. Eleven of 20 races are now in the books.
“The first plan that I had was to pass him,” Cardenas said. “I tried to make a very good lap and tried to win, but under braking into Turn 5, Jake came by again. I tried to pass him again on the chicane, and he went past me on the next turn. We went side-by-side for the last half of the racetrack and it went down to the last corner. He was protecting the inside and, on that particular lap, I made a good run out of that turn and it worked out and I could win. Especially today, my bike was very fast and it helped me a lot today to win the race. Thank you to M4 Suzuki and all the team.”
Zemke took the lead on Lap 7 and led a total of six laps, coming up just short in his bid for a breakthrough Daytona SportBike victory. Nevertheless, it was the Californian’s first podium finish of the season. His previous best ride was a fourth-place performance in the first race of the April doubleheader at Road Atlanta.
“I was trying to be anywhere that Martin wasn’t,” Zemke said. “We were pretty much side-by-side through all those final corners. We were basically side-by-side since out of the chicane (Turn 11). He had a little slip there with the rear and we went side-by-side all the way to Canada Corner. I had the inside there, and then he crossed back over and was outside of me as we went into where the bridge used to be (Turn 13). I knew he was kind of sitting there and I knew I had to protect the inside on the last corner. Leading the race, you just can’t go in there and leave the door wide open for somebody. Being where I was, I just had to protect the inside. Martin is real strong on the brakes, so I knew if I left that open, he’d definitely go up the inside of me. I just had to do what I had to do, and today it didn’t work out for us.
“Congratulations to Martin, he rode great, and also Jason (DiSalvo). These guys have been the class of the field this year, and they’re the ones we’ve got to set our sights on. We’re going to come out to the next race at Laguna and see if we can’t hunt Martin down.”
Rounding out the podium was Jason DiSalvo, who started from the pole position on the No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600. DiSalvo never led, but kept the lead battle in sight throughout the race to take his fifth podium result of the season.
“I was just really happy to make it out and get back on the box,” DiSalvo said. “After yesterday’s performance in the rain, it was just good to get back out. I wish I could have fought for the win, but we lost a little bit of power in the bike from about Lap 3 on, and I just really couldn’t hang in the draft and couldn’t get off some of the slower corners. I just had to sit back and watch those guys inch away from me. It was pretty tough to do, but we just stuck it out and brought it home a very comfortable third. We just want to go out and get that win. We’ve been waiting a long time for it.”
Yesterday’s race winner, Chris Peris, finished fourth in the second race of the Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader on the No. 10 Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR. Danny Eslick rounded out the top five on the No. 9 GEICO Powersports/RMR Buell 1125R.
Next up for Daytona SportBike is the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, July 5.