Video: How GEICO Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas Stretched His Points Lead At New Jersey Motorsports Park

 

GEICO Suzuki’s Martin Cardenas won his seventh AMA Pro Daytona SportBike race of the year and stretched his points lead at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

GEICO Suzuki Rider Cardenas Closes On 2nd Daytona SportBike Title

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Sept. 20) — Even though GEICO Suzuki rider Martin Cardenas can clinch the 2012 GoPro Daytona SportBike championship at this weekend’s Triumph Big Kahuna Miami, it’s business as usual in the Team Hammer pit as the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing tour arrives in South Florida.

With a class-leading seven victories and 11 podium finishes on his resume, Cardenas has a huge 76-point margin in the standings, but the 2010 class champion isn’t celebrating anything just yet. With four individual races left on the schedule, including two this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the 29-year-old Colombian knows anything can happen.

“I have to focus on the normal routine and just racing as we have been all year,” Cardenas said. “We want to qualify well and get a front row position on the grid, if possible, and then we need to go out and race like it’s a normal race.

“Knowing what is at stake will not change anything. Perhaps I will be more cautious at times but if a chance to make a move opens up, then I will try to win each race. The best thing would be to get out front and lead the whole way. Then it doesn’t matter what happens behind me.”

Only three other riders are mathematically alive in the title chase at this point. Dane Westby has the best chance, 76 points back. Cameron Beaubier (-108 points) and Tommy Hayden (-122) also have a chance. The maximum points a rider can earn in the final four races is 126.

“Of course, we all know the championship is within reach,” Cardenas said. “The excitement is there for many of our friends and family members. I am staying the same for now. My excitement will come at the appropriate time.”

Racing starts with a practice session at noon, Friday, followed by the first qualifying session at 3 p.m. Qualifying resumes with a second and final session at 8:50 a.m., Saturday, which will set the field for both races. Race 1 takes place at 2 p.m., Saturday, with Race 2 slated for 2:15 p.m., Sunday. SPEED TV will carry all the action.

Lucky Win No. 7 For Points Leader Cardenas in New Jersey

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.

Jersey Runner-Up Result Pads GEICO Rider Cardenas’ Points Lead

MILLVILLE, N.J. (Sept. 8) — Martin Cardenas came up a few inches short of tallying his seventh AMA GoPro Daytona SportBike victory of the season Saturday, but his runner-up finish to Cameron Beaubier in Saturday’s first race of the American Red Cross Devil’s Showdown still added six points to his championship points lead with five races remaining on the season.

Cardenas now has 10 podium finishes in 14 starts this year and unofficially leads second-place Dane Westby by 70 points heading into Sunday’s second race at New Jersey Motorsports Park. The 29-year-old Colombian gained four points with Saturday’s finish and collected two more bonus points for being low qualifier and leading the most laps (11 of 23). Westby came in third after starting in 13th place.

“It was a very good race for me,” Cardenas said. “I made two very good starts (the second after a red flag) and got out front each time and tried to fall into a nice rhythm. But these other guys made it very challenging. They were with me the whole time and there was lots of passing. Nothing out of line; just very clean, hard racing between one another.

“It was a great battle and at the end I tried to make a move to get around Cameron but I was just a little bit short. The GEICO Suzuki team did a great job, as usual, and we will try again tomorrow a little bit harder and see what happens.”

Beaubier passed Cardenas going into Turn 1 of the final lap and managed to hold off the GEICO Suzuki at every turn. In the final straightaway Cardenas used the draft to try and slingshot around Beaubier at the finish line but came up .023 seconds short.

The intense, back-and-forth racing among the front group of riders proved Cardenas isn’t taking it easy en route to what could be his second Daytona SportBike title, even though his sizable points lead adds up to more than two full races of action.

“I try not to think about that because it’s very distracting and I think it can cause you to make a mistake very easily,” Cardenas said. “I just ride my race and try to do the best I can. Of course, I try not to take big, big risks, but I still take risks and try to win every race. We are all here to win. Today I just didn’t have quite enough.”

The Daytona SportBike class will hold a warm-up session at 9:30 a.m. followed by the second main event, beginning at 2:15 p.m. SPEED TV will air Saturday’s race at 9 p.m. and Sunday’s race starting at 11 p.m.