Hayes just held on by .245 seconds at the stripe. Aided by Hayden’s second-place run, the Mississippian picked up another 11 points in the championship rankings. He now trails Cardenas, who finished third but faded to 13.170 seconds back (18.170 on track), by 23 points.
“Oh man – that was a really fast race,” Hayes said. “Like my season, I kind of made it a challenge for myself from the beginning. The light was held for a long time and I saw Rog creeping and I ended up creeping too. Once I got into the lead, I was kind of waiting to see how it would turn out. I figured something was coming – I didn’t know what. When I saw the ‘+5’ on the board, I knew what was going on immediately. I said, ‘okay, let’s see what we can do,’ and just tried to put together every lap as good as I could.”
“Pretty good race,” said second-place Hayden. “It’s a little bittersweet to be that close to actually beating Josh and him getting me just by a little bit there at the end. He was just a little bit better than I was today, so for tomorrow’s we’ll try to improve some.
“The start… I don’t know what happened. The light was on forever and then I was just reading the ‘+5’ board and it didn’t come until the eighth or ninth lap. Then I saw on my board I was third, but then it finally went up to second, so I knew where the gap was behind me. And I saw Josh’s name on the board too, so I knew I was pushing that hard just to win on track and not really get the win. I’m pretty happy — the first two races haven’t started out that good. I knew we were a lot better than we showed at Daytona and Road America. Hopefully this is a turnaround for my season.”
Herrin claimed a lonely fourth, followed by KTM/HMC’s Chris Fillmore and the aforementioned Pegram (who was the only rider to actually lose a position in the final order due to his penalty). Team Hero’s Geoff May finished seventh aboard his EBR 1190RS with Jordan Suzuki’s Danny Eslick charging back to eighth after dropping down to 14th following an early-race incident.
Motosport.com Motul Fly Racing David Anthony and Team AMSOIL/Hero EBR’s Aaron Yates completed the top 10.
Cameron Beaubier of the Yamaha Extended Service/Monster Energy/Graves/Yamaha team won his third AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike race, while Joe Roberts won his AMA Pro in Saturday’s AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport race.