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Lucky win No. 7 for Lucas Oil's GEICO Suzuki Rider and points leader Martin Cardenas
MILLVILLE, N.J. (Sept. 9) -- GEICO Suzuki rider Martin Cardenas rode to his seventh victory of the 2012 season Sunday with a dramatic last-lap pass around two riders that extended his sizable lead in the GoPro Daytona SportBike category to 76 points with just four races left on the schedule.
The second race of the American Red Cross Devil's Shwodown certainly got more interesting as time wound down. Cardenas, who was second in Saturday's race, had been out front from the start and seemed to be in total control, but with half a dozen laps left he caught up to some lapped traffic and got shuffled back to third when Dane Westby and Bobby Fong found a quicker line through the jam.
Cardenas tucked in behind the duo and rode there for a few laps before expertly riding the draft down the front straightaway as the trio took the white flag. He took the lead back going into Turn 1 and held on from there to post his first victory since early June.
"The last few races have been tough because we haven't been on the top step of the box," Cardenas said. "We've had good finishes and been right there, but the win was alluding us. To come here today and get it done is very satisfying. The guys on the GEICO Suzuki team have worked very hard and deserve this celebration."
Just as it looked to the spectators, Cardenas felt he was cruising away to a win for most of the race until reeling in the back stoppers.
"I got a great holeshot from the No. 1 starting position and was just riding away," Cardenas said. "Lap 17 I caught up to some riders. It's a bit of luck involved as to when you actually get on their rear wheel and this time I got pushed a little out of my line. Westby and Fong got by but I wasn't too concerned because we had time left. I waited for my best chance and made a move. It worked.
"It's getting down towards the end and we have a big lead in the points. Probably the only way to lose is for us to make a big mistake so you have to be careful. At the same time we wanted to win so I took the lead when I could and just tried my best to make no mistakes on the final lap.
"We have a chance to wrap this thing up in Miami," said Cardenas, the 2010 champion. "It will be very exciting."
Up next is the Triumph Big Kahuna Miami, which runs Sept. 21-23 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.
DOUBLE PODIUM WEEKEND FOR WESTBY IN NEW JERSEY
M4 Suzuki's Dane Westby one-upped yesterday's battle up through the field with a runner-up finish in Sunday's AMA Pro Daytona SportBike thriller at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Once again opening his contest from the fourth row after absorbing a penalty in qualifying, Westby systemically picked his way forward in the once red-flagged race.
'The Wolverine' threw down an amazing 1:23.308 lap while making his GSX-R600-mounted charge, which was more than a half-second better than any other rider managed in the race and even faster than the pole time.
13th at the start, Westby stormed his way into the lead late and again found himself engaged in an intense three-way melee for victory.
The Oklahoman ultimately finished a superb second, just 0.053 seconds off the win at the checkered flag.
After collecting his eighth podium result of the 2012 season Westby talked of running down the leaders to put himself in contention: "I smelled blood in the water. They were pretty far away for a while and my guys were showing me I was making up about a half-second per lap. Gauging them on a couple different corners it didn't seem like I was making that much progress and then I was. I latched onto them. It felt good -- the claw came out."
Suzuki SportBikeTrackTime.com's Elena Myers' Sunday race also represented a virtual repeat of her Saturday result with another ride that showed more promise than the results indicated.
Elena stole the holeshot at the green light but had the benefits of her excellent launch erased by an early red flag. Following the restart, she found herself amidst an eight-rider pack challenging for the final podium position. However, she was ultimately shuffled down to eighth in the final results, which were set following a second red flag.
M4 Suzuki's Chris Ulrich backed up Saturday's Superbike 11th-place effort with another on the team GSX-R1000.
“All in all, a pretty good weekend,” said Team Hammer’s Keith Perry. “Dane was able to get on the podium both days and overcome a handicap he gave himself in qualifying. Chris was very steady out there and continued to improve in a very tough class, Superbike. Elena showed a lot of potential in her races and showed some good speed. Everyone’s leaving in good health and we’re looking forward to the next one in Miami.”
The 2012 AMA Pro Road Racing series will pick up in two weeks with the season's penultimate round at Homestead-Miami Speedway on September 21-23.