BRASELTON — Winning a motorcycle race can sometimes be as simple as catching a good current.
It’s one of the hardest parts of the equation to factor into motorsports, especially with the turns and varying hills of a course, but it will sometimes make all the difference when it comes determining a winner.
With a stiff breeze to contend with at Road Atlanta, Martin Cardenas caught up with the pack and shot to the front with substantial drafting at the end for a repeat victory in Saturday’s Daytona Sportbike race in the first day of the weekend’s AMA Suzuki Superbike Showdown.
In a race competitors considered one of the year’s best, Cardenas turned in his best lap of 1 minute, 29.586 seconds with two laps remaining in the 20-lap race, and managed to edge second-place finisher Cory West and third-place finisher Danny Eslick for the win.
“I was just trying to keep it very close at the end since those final few laps are so decisive,” said Cardenas after capturing his second victory of the season. “That was just very good, tough, clean racing there at the end by all of us.”
West was equally pleased with a second-place finish. After a slow start, he also used drafting at the end to go four-wide with the leaders to pull into contention. His main road block was in the first turn immediately before the track turns uphill on the 2.5-mile course.
He credited the brakes on his Suzuki for doing their job going into the tight turns with so many competitors going beside one another.
“We were going four wide, I found an open hole and just had to hope I would be able to break in time,” West said. “I really didn’t have it in Turn 1, but I definitely had it at the end.”
Early in the race, Eslick grabbed the lead starting in lap 3, but was soon joined by the lead group, which spent the bulk of the race jockeying for position for the sprint to the finish line.
“That was an awesome race,” Eslick said. “It’s great to have so much camaraderie and such good competition with these guys.”
Hall County’s Geoff May finished the race in 10th place.
The American Superbike race was much less heralded for its clean racing. Instead, winner Josh Hayes was left defending why he didn’t draw a penalty for jumping the start after a red flag. The initial red flag brought a 30-minute halt to the race.
“If I was sitting in these guys’ seats, I would say that boy deserved a penalty,” said Hayes, pointing to second-place finisher Blake Young and third-place finisher Tommy Hayden in the media room following the race.
When asked, Hayden said that Hayes drove the best race, but contended there is no consistency in the rules. The third-place finisher elaborated on drawing a penalty for a similar violation earlier in the season at Laguna Seca, Calif.
“I don’t see any consistency there,” Hayden said.
Hayes didn’t take the lead until the 19th lap, deliberately choosing to make his move on Young on the final turn.
“Our bike is good in the last turn, and I knew I had two more chances to take the lead,” Hayes said.
In the Supersport race, J.D. Beach finished first, Cameron Beaublier placed second and Huntley Nash finished third.
The racing schedule for today’s races shuffles: The Supersport race begins at 1:45 p.m., American Superbikes race at 3 p.m., and the Daytona Sportbikes round out the day with a 20-lap race at 4:15 p.m.