New Jersey Motorsports Park Recap: AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike
NEWS September 14, 2012
Photo by Brian J Nelson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 14, 2012) - In its short history, New Jersey Motorsports Park has lent itself to some close races and this round's AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike action added to the list. Cameron Beaubier (Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha) and Martin Cardenas (GEICO Suzuki) split the wins this time out.
On Saturday, Beaubier emerged on top after moving from third to first late in the contest. Beaubier passed Dane Westby (M4 Suzuki) and Cardenas to win the red-flagged race by 0.023.
The Yamaha man took his fifth win of the year but said it took a while to get rolling. "I slotted into third the last few laps," said Beaubier. "I saw what Westby and Cardenas were doing and I was able to make my moves. I was a little out of my rhythm and I would have liked to have made my moves earlier but there was no way I was getting away from these guys. I tried to conserve my tires and wait until the end."
Cardenas wasn't able to make a pass after he lost the lead as the last lap was about to began. "I made two great starts and tried to get in a rhythm, but these guys were with me the whole time and we had a lot of passing," said the Colombian. "It was clean racing. Cameron got me in the first corner and I came up a little short today."
Westby received a penalty on Friday for riding backwards on the track after a crash, resulting in the Oklahoman starting the races from 13th position. It did little to slow his charge to the front, though. Westby was a contender for the win but wound up 0.465 back at the checkers. "We started way back but I wasn't worried," said Westby. "At the end, I saw there were just the three of us, which is what I wanted."
Bobby Fong ran up front before losing a bit of time to the leaders in the end. The Meen Motorsports pilot was fourth, 1.992 seconds back and just ahead of Y.E.S/Graves/Yamaha's Tommy Hayden, who managed to hang at the front.
Jason DiSalvo returned on his Triumph in Latus Motors Racing livery after missing Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The 2011 DAYTONA 200 winner finished sixth on Saturday.
Tommy Aquino has made the most of his opportunity as an injury replacement with the Kneedraggers.com Yamaha squad and he took seventh at a track where he's had success before.
The RoadRace Factory/Red Bull pilots Jake Gagne and J.D. Beach were next in the order, ahead of series veteran Aaron Gobert on the Full Tuck Yamaha.
Sunday's race was marred by an early accident caused when a rider ran off course and brought water onto the track surface as he returned to the course just in front of the lead pack. Tommy Hayden crashed big, along with Cameron Beaubier, Aaron Gobert and Michael Beck. Unfortunately, Hayden was taken in for medical evaluation while Beaubier was forced to watch as his machine was not ready when the race restarted.
Cardenas was able to get away clean and lead the first 17 laps of the race, holding Fong at bay. But his teammate Westby was closing fast and set the quickest lap of the race (1:23.308) catching up from his poor starting slot. Westby took the lead as he and Fong passed Cardenas. The Colombian, however, passed them both on the final lap to take win number seven and to increase his points lead.
The GEICO Suzuki rider knew Westby was super fast in the final section and wasn't sure if he had an answer, but he got a good drive on the last lap and was able to earn the win.
"The bike worked awesome all weekend," said Cardenas, "I was leading and I knew Bobby was right behind me. Dane passed me and so did Bobby and they did some good laps. I thought about throwing in the towel but I made one more run. I got a good drive out of the last corner and drafted them on the front straight. I knew all three of us could win. The last few races I was close, so I am glad today worked out for me."
Westby came up just short after his impressive run. "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," said the Oklahoman. "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 claws came out. It just didn't work out for us but a trophy and some champagne is not so bad."
Fong was impressive again, but disappointed not to get a win. "I'm really upset with myself and I timed everything wrong," said Fong. "It's a work in progress and every weekend, we're getting better." The result equaled his best of the season.
Aquino was just 4.501 seconds back with a hard-fought fourth to show for his efforts. He topped fellow rising star Jake Gagne, who had a rather uneventful top five finish. Cory West (Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki) was next in the final running order.
Veteran Jake Zemke brought the Ducshop Ducati home seventh, ahead of J.D. Beach, who was pushed wide early and was classified 23rd on lap one.
Reigning AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport West champ David Gaviria claimed his best GoPro Daytona SportBike result yet for Kneedraggers.com Yamaha with ninth. Beck was able to regroup from his early crash and finish tenth for Team Beck Racing.
Cardenas has the championship in hand with a 76-point lead going into the last two races, but Beaubier's emergence, Westby's improvement, and even the resilient Fong have shown that the Colombian doesn't rule the class with Hayes-like domination. Cardenas has been taking care of business for much of the summer -- earning those points to keep the championship firmly in hand. With only one mistake on the season in Sonoma, he's done exactly what he needed to do. He's raced hard but managed risks, and had to watch Beaubier and Westby get the better of him on occasion. That can't sit well with the 2010 GoPro Daytona SportBike champ. With just four races to go, Cardenas will want to wrap up the title and then prove a point to the interlopers.