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.