Polesitter Cardenas winds up fourth at 71st annual Daytona 200

[DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 17) -- In one of the closest finishes in Daytona 200 history, polesitter Martin Cardenas brought his GEICO Suzuki GSX-R600 home in fourth place. According to the timers, Cardenas matched the time of third-place finisher Cameron Beaubier but officials gave the final podium position to Beaubier based on visual evidence. The top four riders were separated by just .112 seconds.

"To race for 200 miles and have four riders just a tenth of a second apart is incredible," Cardenas said. "Of course, we wanted to be on the podium but we ended up fourth and that is my best finish ever at this racetrack so we will be okay."

Cardenas was up front for most of the day, and even led a few of the 57 circuits completed. Prior to the first pit stop, he was part of a breakaway group of seven riders. In the middle part of the race, he was swapping the lead with Beaubier and eventual winner Joey Pascarella as the three pulled away from the chase pack.

After the second and final round of pit stops, Cardenas found himself six seconds behind Pascarella and Beaubier, with Jason DiSalvo a few seconds further back in fourth. As the star-studded group fought through lapped traffic, Cardenas went to work and managed to close the gap on Pascarella and Beaubier, even though he was riding without the benefit of a drafting partner. Shortly after Cardenas caught the leaders, DiSalvo joined the fray, which set-up a four-bike battle for the checkered flag.

"The last 10 laps I was giving 100-percent and more to close the gap on the two guys in front of me. We managed to catch up but at the end, I think maybe they just had a bit more than we did. I was trying to ride the draft, thinking about that, but we all pushed for the line and I ended up fourth.

"I felt good all day. I'm tired but not exhausted. It was just normal, physical riding. The bike had the speed. We will see about that at the next race. This one is very different because of the drafting. We'll see where the others really are when we go to Atlanta. I actually think DiSalvo was just playing with us for much of the day. His bike is very, very fast. But our GEICO Suzuki will be up front as well."

A native of Medellin, Columbia, Cardenas swept the double-header of Daytona SportBike races the last time the tour visited Road Atlanta in 2010. This year's Triumph Big Kahuna Atlanta event takes place April 20-22 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga.

"We earned our first Daytona pole and had a very respectable finish this weekend," Cardenas said. "I am happy and very proud of the team. This will be a great season for us."