MILLVILLE, N.J. (Sept. 7) — GEICO Suzuki rider Martin Cardenas posted a near-record lap of 1:23.522 about midway through Friday afternoon’s opening round of GoPro Daytona SportBike qualifying at New Jersey Motorsports Park to lead Day 1 action at the AMA American Red Cross Devil’s Showdown.
When the number went on the board, Cardenas’ nearest competitor was more than a second behind, so the team elected to call him into the pits and try a different set-up. They then watched as several others took their best shots at the current points leader, but fortunately no one could match Cardenas’ blistering-quick time.
“The bike has been awesome from today’s first practice,” Cardenas said. “We made some changes for qualifying but not too much. I was able to make several good laps and one of them was quickest of the day. After that we decided to try and run with a full tank because we had a nice gap, but by the end a few others had come very close so we feel fortunate to stay on the provisional pole.”
Cardenas was followed closely by Tommy Hayden, who posted a 1:23.549, Cameron Beaubier (1:23.571) and Jason DiSalvo (1:23.604). The current track record is a 1:23.502 set by Tommy Aquino in 2010 during a race won by Cardenas.
“If you go back and look at the times from 2010, they are very similar to what we were running today,” said Cardenas, who competed in the Superbike category last year. “I’m not sure what was the problem last year but everyone was a second slower in the DSB class. Maybe it was the tires; I don’t know.
“Whatever it was is not an issue any more. Now we will hope for dry conditions again tomorrow and maybe we can go a little better.”
Cardenas entered the weekend 64 points ahead of Dane Westby.
Qualifying concludes with a second round slated to begin at 8:50 a.m. The field will then be set for both scheduled Daytona SportBike races, which begin at 2 p.m., Saturday, and 2:15 p.m., Sunday. SPEED TV will cover Saturday’s racing starting at 9 p.m. and Sunday’s starting at 11 p.m.