News 3 Aug 2009

AMA SBK: Pegram completes perfect weekend with Sunday win


Larry Pegram (No. 72 Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing Ducati 1098R) scored his first career weekend sweep in AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited competition Sunday in the Tornado Nationals presented by at Heartland Park Topeka.  All of Sunday’s action from Topeka can be seen in a two-hour show on SPEED tonight at Midnight ET (9 p.m. PT).

As he did in Saturday’s final, Pegram led every lap from the start for a convincing win that was his third victory of the season.  Unlike yesterday’s race when the Ducati was the clear class of the field, a persistent Tommy Hayden (No.  22 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) chased Pegram to the finish on Sunday.

“I was sweating and Tommy was all over me, he was an animal,” Pegram said. “I could hear him back there, I could feel him.  The last three laps I was riding fairly defensive.  I was still trying to set a good pace but in the places where I knew there were opportunities to pass, I wasn’t giving any room there.  My hats off to him, I rode as hard as I possibly could and he was there the whole race.”

Hayden crossed the finish line .333 of a second behind Pegram and he has now been on the podium for half of this year’s 16 races.  Josh Hayes (No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) finished third for his third podium in the last four races after scoring a weekend victory sweep of his own one race ago at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

“I was a lot stronger than Larry through two of the corners,” Hayden said.  “I didn’t want to try a move until I thought I was close enough to make it.  I tried the one spot and he got back by and I never really got close enough again through that area.  He picked it up a bit there.  It’s kind of frustrating to keep getting this close and not get a win, but I feel like I’m learning a lot in the races.  I have to keep doing what I’m doing, it can’t be too far away.”

Hayes kept in touch with the leaders in third for the entire race and joined several other riders in giving high praise to Heartland Park Topeka owner Raymond Irwin and his staff for implementing a series of safety improvements to the 2.5-mile circuit in preparation for the first major motorcycle event in Topeka in nearly 20 years.

“The track put in a lot of effort to help us out and I’m very thankful for the work that they did,” said Hayes.  “The bike actually worked really well.  Somewhere in Lap 5 or 6 I made a go at the guys and kind of closed everything up and I got close.  Even if I caught them I didn’t know if I could make any moves.  They were pretty strong everywhere that I could pass.  I knew both of these guys want the wins really bad, just like I do.  I just didn’t have the pace to run with them there at the end.  I’m up here on the podium.  I think this is my first Superbike podium where I didn’t win a race, so I hope we’re making some in roads.  Hopefully we’ll be good at Virginia.”

Pegram also showed some appreciation for the Heartland Park officials.

“Personally, I love this place now,” Pegram said.  “I think Heartland Park has the potential to be a really, really good race track as far as safety goes.”

The top five was completed by a pair of riders that turned in career-best results.  Jake Holden (No. 59 Holden Racing Honda CBR1000RR) finished a solid fourth and was followed across the line by an equally impressive Taylor Knapp (No. 44 Taylor Knapp Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000) who finished fifth.

Several regular American Superbike front runners encountered a variety of problems Sunday.  Ben Bostrom (No. 2 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1) was running fourth with less than two laps to go when he pulled off course with apparent mechanical problems.  Blake Young (No. 79 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) was in second place at the end of the opening lap but fell to an eventual eighth place finish after contact with Aaron Yates (No. 23 Brand Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000).  In the same incident, Yates lowsided in Turn 8, the same corner where his Jordan Motorsports teammate Geoff May (No. 54 National Guard Jordan Suzuki GSX-R1000) later took a spill 10 laps later.  Neither rider was injured.

Mat Mladin (No. 7 Rockstar/Makita Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000) continues to lead the American Superbike championship standings with 390 points, Hayden remains second with 307 points while Pegram has jumped from fifth to third in the standings after the Tornado Nationals with 286 points.

Next up for American Superbike 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).

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).

Click here for detailed results