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.
1st – Martin Cardenas Speaks…
"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.
2nd – Jake Zemke Speaks…
"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.
3rd – Jason DiSalvo Speaks…
"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.
Mercado Scores Second SuperSport presented by Shoei Victory
Leandro Mercado (No. 92 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) and Ricky Parker (No. 96 Graves Motorsports Yamaha YZF-R6) capped an entertaining day of racing at Road America with a great, race-long battle for the victory in AMA Pro SuperSport presented by Shoei action.
The race, which included both the East and West divisions of SuperSport, was a continuation of sorts of the battle Mercado and Parker had last time out at Infineon Raceway last month. On that day, Parker came out with his first SuperSport victory.
Things would be different this time around. Mercado started from the pole, and although Parker was able to lead the first two laps of the race, the 17-year-old Argentine proved why he topped the time charts throughout the weekend by putting the No. 92 Kawasaki into the lead in Turn 5 on Lap 3. Mercado led the next four laps before Parker once again stepped to the front of the class in Turn 5 with four laps remaining.
Heading down the front straightaway with two to go, Mercado made the decisive pass and managed to keep Parker in his mirrors to win by 0.449 seconds. It was Mercado’s second career SuperSport victory and his first since taking Round 2 of the SuperSport East championship at Road Atlanta in April. The victory moved Mercado to the top of the SuperSport East point standings by 18 points, 81-63, over No. 5 Roadracingworld.com Suzuki GSX-R600 rider Russ Wikle.
1st – Leandro Mercado Speaks…
"It was a really fun race," said Mercado. "It was really hard, Ricky was very close behind. He passed me a couple times. The race was difficult. I tried to push hard every lap and be consistent and not make any mistakes. I’m really happy. Today, my Kawasaki worked awesome. I hope to keep it like this in the other races of the year. I want to thank my team for a great job."
Parker came home second for his second consecutive SuperSport podium result. He is now third in the SuperSport West point standings with 56 points, just one point behind Clint Shobert (No. 26 American Honda CBR600RR), who finished ninth today, and 18 behind leader Tyler Odom (No. 46 Erion Racing Honda CBR600RR), who was seventh in today’s race. It was just Parker’s third SuperSport race of the season.
2nd – Ricky Parker Speaks…
"This was actually better than Infineon," said Parker. "There was a lot more action in there. We had a lot of passes during the whole race and that made it a lot more fun for us, and I believe for the spectators also. It was an awesome race. Leandro and I stayed close pretty much the whole race. The last lap unfortunately I made a mistake, I ran wide and lost a little bit from him and couldn’t just make up the gap in the last few corners. It’s okay, I’m happy with second. I’ll take second this weekend and look forward to Laguna, hopefully we’ll get another podium."
Josh Day completed the podium on the No. 4 Team E.S.P. Yamaha YZF-R6 with a third-place ride. It was Day’s best ride since finishing second in Round 2 at Road Atlanta.
3rd – Josh Day Speaks…
"It went pretty well," said Day. "I wish I could have stayed with the guys at the front but they just picked up the pace a little bit more than what I had for them and we didn’t really have the bike setup to be going that quick. Congrats to how good they were riding up front. Other than that, the rest of the race was pretty flawless and lonely. The rest of time I was pretty much out there all by myself towards the end. I wish I could have stayed with them up front, that way we would have had a good three-way battle but hopefully we’re coming out for the next race and can stay up front with them."
James Rispoli, who leads the points in the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Pro Singles Championship, finished fourth in his SuperSport debut aboard the No. 71 NPS Racing Suzuki GSX-R600, and Wikle completed the top five.
The next SuperSport round is scheduled for Saturday, July 4 as part of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.