Round 2 Report: Infineon AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike, Race 1

SONOMA, CA (March 15, 2011) – Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes got some measure of revenge for going winless at AMA Pro Road Racing’s opening 2011 round today, holding off a determined Tommy Hayden for the majority of the 22-lap AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Race 1 at Infineon Raceway.

While Hayden stalked Hayes at the front, Hayden’s Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate, Blake Young, put increasing pressure on Team M4 Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas, who ultimately held off Young to take the first National Guard SuperBike podium of his career.

Cardenas’ third-place finish was extra impressive in light of the fact that today’s event was only the second SuperBike event the reining AMA Pro Daytona SportBike champ has contended. And while some predicted the Colombian rider would take time to settle into his new class, Cardenas has clearly demonstrated he’s not impressed by learning curves.

It was Hayden who took the holeshot off the line, but he came immediately under attack from Hayes, who in turn had Young all over his back wheel. Young even claimed second briefly, sliding under when Hayes went wide, but Hayes almost immediately sandwiched himself back between the two Suzuki riders and took over the lead within a handful of laps.

Jordan Suzuki’s Ben Bostrom, meanwhile, was looking stronger than he had through practice and qualifying, hanging with the then-top three and keeping a pile of riders behind him. That pile soon ceased to include Cardenas, who worked his way past Steve Rapp, then Bostrom, to set out after Young. Bostrom remained in contention, however, until he was relegated to the side of the track with a sprung chain with fewer than ten laps to go.

Bostrom’s teammate, National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden, was holding steady in eighth when he was knocked out of the contest by ADR Fly Racing’s David Anthony in Turn 11 after Anthony slid into his rear wheel, splaying Hayden onto the sidelines. Hayden wasn’t able to reenter.

Cardenas, meanwhile, had kept up the pressure on Young and taken advantage of a mistake that sent Young way wide to slide under and take over third position. From there, the name of Martin’s game was defense, as Young stuck to his rear wheel, clearly planning a late-race attack. While Young stalked Cardenas, Young’s teammate, Hayden, put increasing pressure on race-leader Hayes and beginning to whittle away at Hayes’ small lead.

Hayes, however, had no intention of being caught, laying down the quickest lap the race had seen thus far late in the contest and even managing to extend it by race’s end, crossing the finish significantly ahead of Hayden, while Cardenas survived a last-lap, last-corner attack from Young to take third by .068.

Rounding out the top ten were Blake Young, Chris Peris (Iron Horse BMW), Steve Rapp (San Diego BMW), Larry Pegram (Foremost Insurance Pegram Racing), Geoff May (EBR Racing), JD Beach (Cycle World/Attack Performance Kawasaki, in his career first National Guard SuperBike race), and Team M4 Suzuki’s Chris Ulrich. For full results, click here.

Cardenas, 3rd: “[The adjustment to a new class] has been good. The team, since I rode the bike for the first time, has worked very hard to adjust it to my riding style, and also I’m trying to change a few things in the way I ride because you have to ride this bike a little different from the 600. But it’s been good, and every time I go on the bike I feel more comfortable, especially since the Miller test, where we found something that helps me go a little faster.

“At the beginning of the race I didn’t make a good start; I lost some positions and had to work my way up. When I reeled in Blake I stayed with him for a few laps and then I made a decision and tried to maintain. I pulled a little bit of gap, but I made a few mistakes in some corners, He got me again and kept the pressure all the way to the end, but lucky me, I could maintain the position and be here on the podium.”

Hayden, 2nd: “The start was good. I really was kind of concentrating on the start, because I know here it’s important; passing is not easy and the last thing I wanted to do was get a couple of people between me and Josh. I felt pretty good all weekend and thought unless he stepped it up and went faster, I could at least go with him if I started with him, so that was for me really important, and that worked out well.

“I led a couple laps and then Josh came by, and we kind of see-sawed back and forth. I started fighting things a little bit on the entry, and it getting a little harder for me to maintain the pace, and then I made a couple mistakes and lost about a second. From there I didn’t have enough left to try to make any kind of runback. Overall, I’m fairly happy with today. We definitely made a big step-last year this was my worst track by far, so this year it was important to me to come in and go in the right direction. Obviously I would have liked to win, but fairly happy with the weekend so far.”

Hayes, 1st: For the most part I had Tommy in front of me, and I felt confident I could run the pace, whatever it may be. It looked like he and I would kind of be able to do our own thing over the weekend. I got a little antsy on the first lap and Blake jumped on me, but I got back really quick; I wanted to get that done immediately and stay close to Tommy. I guess I’m a little impatient, but I like leading. I’m a little more comfortable being in the front … when you’re back there, you never know what might happen. Our bike was just like last year: it’s a very strong bike that basically allows me to just go out there and ride well.”

For tickets to or information about today’s Round 2, Day 2, at Infineon Raceway, visit www.infineonraceway.com. To learn more and be a part of AMA Pro Racing, please visit www.amaproracing.com and join us via facebook.com/AMAProRoadRacing, twitter.com/AMAProSBK, and twitter.com/AMAProLIVE.

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