Cardenas Pulls Off Thriller at Tornado Nationals

NEWS August 2, 2009

Cardenas Pulls Off Thriller at Tornado Nationals

TOPEKA, Kan. (August 2, 2009) - In the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL Sunday final, Cardenas passed Danny Eslick (No. 9 GEICO Powersports/RMR Buell 1125R) twice on the final lap for his series-leading seventh victory of 2009.  Cardenas and Eslick are now tied for first with 318 points apiece in the Daytona SportBike championship standings with just two double-header weekends of racing left this season. All of Sunday's action from the Tornado Nationals presented by at Heartland Park Topeka can be seen in a two-hour show on SPEED tonight at Midnight ET (9 p.m. PT). 
"The race was very tough," Cardenas said.  "I noticed that the pace wasn't as good as yesterday and Danny was struggling in the first part of the track.  I made a move three or four laps from the end and put a little bit of a gap in the parts that I saw he was struggling.  He came right by me again so I just waited for the last lap to make a move and it worked out.  It was a very good race.  The bike worked awesome." 
Eslick was leading at the start of the final lap but Cardenas was in hot pursuit along with Josh Herrin (No. 8 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6), who had recovered from a mid-race trip off course to race back into contention.  Cardenas and Eslick traded the lead twice while working the Turn 6 and 7 section of the course before the Colombian took the lead for the final time out of the backstretch chicane with just half a lap to go.  Eslick then had his hands full with Herrin, who made a late-breaking pass for second stick just two corners from the finish.
"It was just an awesome race," Eslick said.  "I got away for a little while just past halfway and tried to lead as many laps as I could and hopefully get that point for the most laps led.  Both these guys ran an awesome race and it was a lot of fun. I almost crashed on that last lap trying to chase Martin down in the chicane.  I don't know if I hit the body work or what I did, but I was down, no saving it, and somehow it stood back up.  I figured from there I'd go with second, then Josh came sliding by me.  We'll take a third today, tied for the championship.  It's a good weekend."
Herrin is now third in the Daytona SportBike standings with 261 points behind the two leaders.
"That was really scary," said Herrin, who fell to seventh after his off-course incident.  "I ran it in really hard, and I was going to try to make a move on Danny going on the outside.  I think I hit his exhaust or something with my fist and it just jabbed it, cut my hand actually.  I ran off into the grass, made a couple of jumps through there and charged back.  That was definitely the furthest I've had to work to catch back up to the leaders.  The pass on Danny on the last lap was just full lock, sliding the bike on the last corner.  Taking a second after charging that long is just as good as a win to me."
As he did on Saturday, Eslick spent the opening part of the race methodically charging through the field. He took the lead for the first time with a first-to-third pass of Cardenas and then-leader Herrin in the fast run through Heartland Park's Alpha and Turn 1 section on Lap 10.  Eslick led the next nine race laps at the line before the white flag battle and was one of four riders to set the pace in the 20-lap race.  Superpole winner Jason DiSalvo (No. 40 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) led the first six laps, Herrin led Laps 7 through 9 and Cardenas officially led just the final lap.
DiSalvo finished fourth while Tommy Aquino (No. 6 Team Graves Yamaha YZF-R6) continued his recent run of strong performances to round out the top five.
Next up for Daytona SportBike is the Suzuki Big Kahuna Nationals at Virginia International Raceway (VIR), August 14 - 16.  The races will be featured in a pair of same-day, two-hour telecasts on SPEED on Saturday, August 15 at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) and Sunday, August 16 at Midnight ET (9 p.m. PT).

More from a press release from Team M4 Suzuki:


Team M4 Suzuki's Martin Cardenas put in a heroic effort on Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka in Topeka, KS to score a thrilling final-lap victory and reclaim a piece of the 2009 AMA Pro Daytona SportBike championship lead.

The Colombian was once again embroiled in an intense battle with his championship rival, Danny Eslick, at the head of a four and five-man lead group disputing Sunday's win.

Facing an obvious straight-line deficit, Cardenas looked to fighting an uphill battle in his hopes to climb back to the top spot on the podium. However, he leveraged the strengths of his sweet-handling Suzuki GSX-R600 and timed his assault for the dramatic triumph perfectly.

Martin made a pair of slick maneuvers to take control of first on the 50-mile race's final lap and held on to claim the checkered flag in first position by 0.245 seconds. The former Spanish Supersport champ's title hopes got an additional boost when Josh Herrin slotted between Cardenas and Eslick on the final lap, leaving the two tied with 318 points apiece and four races remaining on the 2009 schedule.

Cardenas, ecstatic with his hard-earned triumph and relieved to get his seventh victory on the season after a few disappointing outings recently, said, "The race was very tough. I knew it was going to be very difficult to win here today because of the power of the Buell in a straight line but today I noticed the pace wasn't as good as yesterday and Danny was struggling a little bit in the first part of the circuit. I made a move three or four laps from the end and tried to get a little bit of a gap where I saw that he was struggling but he came right back by me again so I decided to wait for the last lap and try to maintain the position and just hope he didn't come by in a straight line before the finish line.

"In the end it worked out. It was a very good race. My Suzuki worked awesome and thanks to the team for doing such a great job and believing in me."

Teammate Jason DiSalvo put in a strong ride of his own, joining Cardenas in the race's top four after leading several laps at the beginning of the contest after starting from pole.

The New Yorker was a factor with the lead group throughout the stunning affair and ultimately crossed the strip less than 1.5 seconds off the win.

DiSalvo remains ranked fifth in the Daytona SportBike title hunt with 235, just six points removed from fourth.

Team M4 Suzuki will look to add to their victory tally with an eye on taking the next step towards the 2009 Daytona SportBike championship in two weeks time at Virginia International Raceway on August 14-16.

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