MONTEREY, Calif. (July 29) — The disappointment of getting passed on the last lap and settling for runner-up honors at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix quickly was replaced by jubilation throughout the GEICO Suzuki pit when the new championship rankings showed rider Martin Cardenas ahead of his nearest rival by a whopping 64 points.
Cardenas entered the weekend 40 points ahead of second-place Dane Westby in the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike class, but after earning the pole, leading the most laps in the main event, and finishing second — combined with Westby’s shocking first-lap crash that eventually relegated him to 18th place — Cardenas came out the big winner on the day.
“Of course, we wanted the win,” Cardenas said. “This is why we race, to win. But second place is a good result and now that I find out what happened to Dane and see the new points structure, we have obviously made a great gain today.”
The rankings now show Cardenas 64 points ahead of Westby and 80 clear of both Cameron Beaubier and Tommy Hayden, who are tied for third.
Cardenas got the holeshot in Sunday’s race and was never really challenged until Beaubier made his move at the start of the final circuit around the 11-turn, 2.23-mile track. Beaubier went on to win, followed by Cardenas and Hayden.
“Cameron made a good move to pass me,” Cardenas admitted. “I was expecting him to try something in Turn 5 and I had an idea of how to shut the door, but he surprised me in Turn 1 and made the pass. I wanted to try to get back around him because I felt the race was ours, but I also didn’t want to give anything more away. He had just enough cushion that he was able to hold the position. Aside from that, it was a perfect race for us and we are happy.”
With just three stops and six races left on the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing schedule, Cardenas says he has no plans of playing it safe to defend his No. 1 ranking moving forward.
“This isn’t how we race,” said Cardenas, a six-time winner this season. “We try to win every event for our sponsors and our team. It is important to not ride defensively. Why should we change what has worked so well for us all year?
“I’m ready for the next race. I’m excited to continue.”
The Devil’s Showdown takes place Sept. 7-9 at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, N.J. The AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike class will race twice at the event.