Herrin wouldn’t be lonely in second for long after losing Hayes’ tow, however, as he was tracked down by Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Martin Cardenas and National Guard Jordan Suzuki’s Roger Hayden. They clawed their way up to make it a three-way fight for second position with just two laps to go.
Colombian Cardenas made his bid for the position on the final lap but Herrin was able to counter his pass with one of his own and hold the spot by 0.055 of a second at the stripe.
Hayden, who overtook Cardenas for third momentarily the lap before, was an interested observer in the heated battle as he accepted fourth just a half-second removed from a runner-up finish.
As a result of yesterday’s win and today’s second, Herrin now boasts a comfortable 22-point advantage heading into the ’13 finale. A finish inside the top ten is all he needs to earn his first-ever AMA Pro title.
“It feels good. It’s been since 2008 that I’ve been trying to get a championship. I’m not there yet but it’s getting closer. Today I went into the race really nervous – I’m not going to lie,” Herrin said. “I was thinking about the points and what I needed to do to get enough of a gap to where I wouldn’t have to worry too much at Laguna and I think we accomplished that. It’s not going to be easy to finish in the top ten but it’s a lot of weight off my shoulder knowing that’s the goal. We’ve been working hard all year and we’ve had minimal problems and we’ve only not finished on the podium twice all year. That was something that was real important to me this year… I’m just really excited to go to Laguna.”
Cardenas is now third, 23 points back of Herrin.
“It was a very long and tough race; I didn’t have rest at any time. I made a good start but, at the end of the first lap, the two Josh’s passed me and they were a little bit faster than me on the first few laps. And then Danny (Eslick) and Roger tried to pass me and I had to fight back,” Cardenas said. “By that time, Herrin and Hayes had a little gap and all the race I was trying to close that gap. I was trying as hard as I could every lap, and I saw the gap was coming down (to Herrin) little by little. On the last lap, I caught Herrin and tried to do my best to pass him and hold the position. I made an attempt, and it worked but only for a little bit and he passed me back. There was no other chance, so I had to settle for third.”
Jordan Suzuki’s Danny Eslick shined in the race’s early stages, dicing back and forth with Cardenas and Hayden while contesting third position. Eventually he fell off that chase and into a fifth-place finish — his ninth top-five of the 2013 campaign.
KTM/HMC Racing’s Chris Fillmore shook Team HERO EBR’s Geoff May and made a late run on Eslick, ultimately coming up just over a second short while claiming sixth position.