It’s been a little over a week since the final motorcycle racing round of the AMA Daytona SportBike Championship wrapped up at Barber and I’m still mulling over (as I’m sure the three main protagonists are) all the “what ifs?”
Going into the Barber weekend Suzuki-mounted Danny Eslick had the points lead with 356. Eslick was followed by Josh Herrin on the Graves Yamaha R6 with 345 points while Colombian Martin Cardenas, riding the M4 Monster Energy Suzuki GSX-R 600, was in third with 344.
The Barber race mixed up the situation dramatically with Cardenas taking the win to jet him into a narrow three-point lead for the 2010 AMA SportBike Title.
On Sunday, September 26th, the day dawned with the sobering reality of rain. The title fight was going to be decided on wet asphalt. Cardenas, the relatively quiet, reserved 28-year old Colombian came into the final race with a three-point advantage over Eslick and nine points over Herrin.
That’s a very narrow point margin given the uncertainties of racing, which were greatly exacerbated by the wet weather and a slippery track.
Once the race started we got a preview of what was to come. Cardenas settled into a comfortable third, with Eslick and Herrin further back where they were having a series of very visible and intentional run-ins, with Eslick going up the inside of Herrin at one point and forcing him off track.
Herrin rejoined the race and battled back to sixth, chasing Eslick who was in fifth. Meanwhile, Cardenas continued his calm circulation in third. In this configuration Cardenas was assured the title.
It wasn’t to be. The race was red flagged on the 14th lap due to two crashes. Restarts level the playing field and toss out any advantage a rider may have built up-as was the case with Cardenas.
Within a few laps of the restart the shenanigans started anew in the Eslick/Herrin duel, who were running first and second.
Title contenders Eslick and Herrin were trading jabs at the front while Cardenas, running third, watched the action directly ahead of him.
Eslick and Herrin came together again, with Herrin being forced wide and into the grass where he tucked the front end. He remounted and raced to eleventh but the fall had ended his title run. Meanwhile, Cardenas went after Eslick and sneaked by to take the win.
While Eslick and Herrin-regardless of whom wants to blame whom-got off target and focused on each other, Cardenas quietly went about the business of racing and earned the title not only with superb display of riding ability, but with maturity and a sense of gentlemanliness.
Although the on-track antics of Eslick and Herrin threatened to overshadow Cardenas’ feat, ultimately it’s Cardenas’ name that will be in the record books for the 2010 title. Maybe nice guys can finish first.
Daytona SportBike Rider Standings
|Pos||Rider(s)||Total Points||01||02-1||02-2||03-1||03-2||04-1||04-2||05-1||05-2||06-1||06-2||07||08-1||08-2||09-1||09-2||10-1||10-2||Total Wins|