Rookie Fernandez led all 18 laps of Sunday’s Moto2 race at the Circuit of the Americas and is now just nine points off the championship lead, after Gardner fell in lap six while trying to chase the Spaniard .
Home hero Cameron Beaubier briefly took the lead of a fifth-best of the season on the grid, but missed the first corner and allowed Fernandez and Gardner to pass.
Beaubier, Fabio Di Giannantonio de Gresini and Gardner started committing for second place, which gave Fernandez a one-second lead on the second tour.
That advantage started to swell as this trio – soon joined by VR46 rider Marco Bezzecchi – battled for second place.
Gardner finally found a way to make his way to second place on lap four and quickly pulled away from the field behind as he began to hint at his teammate Ajo.
But Gardner blew the gates to the championship battle with Fernandez when he crashed at Turn 15 on lap six – ceding a comfortable 34-point advantage to Austin.
The Australian’s fall allowed Fernandez to open up a lead of more than two seconds in front of the peloton, with Di Giannantonio now the one chasing him.
As the gap up front dropped to 1.5 seconds at one point as the race entered its second half, Fernandez responded in the later stages to increase that gap again to over two seconds.
Fernandez’s pace has leveled off in recent tours and he has gone under the checkered flag for his seventh win of the season and third in a row.
This tally of seven wins is equivalent to that of Marc Marquez during his rookie season in Moto2 in 2011.
Di Giannantonio took a comfortable second place, with rider Gresini scoring his first podium since winning in Spain last May.
Bezzecchi completed the podium in third, with Augusto Fernandez the only Marc VDS Kalex in fourth place after his teammate Sam Lowes retired due to an electrical problem.
Beaubier (American Racing) retained fifth place for the best result of his Moto2 rookie campaign, followed by fellow rookies Tony Arbolino (Intact GP) and Ai Ogura of Honda Team Asia.
Xavi Virgo (Petronas Sprinta), Marcos Ramirez’s sister American Racing Kalex and Virgo teammate Jake Dixon round out the top 10.