Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
by Chris Martin
Defending AMA Superbike champ Ben Spies lived up to his promise of racing more aggressively in search of wins this afternoon at Miller Motorsports Park, orchestrating a convincing wire-to-wire victory from pole.
The Yoshiumura Suzuki ace ripped open a 1.481-second advantage on the opening lap and continued to add huge chunks to his lead for the next few laps. Working decidedly in his favor, Spies' archrival Mat Mladin suffered a less-than-ideal start, and while he made short work out of an impressive pack of contenders while slicing his way up from seventh to second by lap 3, the Aussie already found himself close to six seconds down at that point.
Once Mladin got a clear track in front of him, he proved capable of running roughly the same pace as Spies, as the two traded a tenth here and a tenth there, but the gap remained right around six seconds until just after half-distance. The Aussie then started to suffer tire woes and the Texan took full advantage, upping his lead to over nine seconds before cruising to a 7.273-second margin of victory at the checkered flag.
After claiming his 15th career AMA Superbike win (tying him with Freddie Spencer and Eric Bostrom for sixth on the all-time list) Spies said, "We got the holeshot and the first couple of laps, I actually made the same mistake in the same corner and was giving some time up. I had ‘+0' on my board for the first few laps, but that was probably my team trying to make me go for it. I tried to keep it clean and the bike worked really good the whole race for sure. It was pretty much a picture perfect race. I saw when Mat got into second the gap stopped and then leveled out and I just tried to keep putting lap times in until he ran into problems then we were able to bring it back."
Runner-up Mladin remarked, "You can't give up six seconds in the first couple laps to a guy when lap times are very similar. I pushed as hard as I could and we got to half race distance and I threw a couple chunks out of the rear tire and that was pretty much my day."
Explaining what happened at the start, Mladin said, "To be honest with you, as you all know, we have launch control now and it didn't work. I pushed the button and it didn't work so I was trying to sort things out on the start line between the ‘2' and the ‘1' before it went green. I was trying to sort a few things out there and that was it. When you get used to something and you go back to the old way it feels a little bit different. For some reason it didn't work so I guess we'll see if we can't figure it out tonight. I pushed the button and hit the gas and it's supposed to stop at the rpm it's set at but it hit the rev limiter. I got a little bit flustered on the start and made sure I got it right - or somewhat right and not end up 20th in turn one. I did as good a job as I could."
While the track's high grip levels and power-sapping elevation weren't enough to prevent the Yoshimura duo from pulling another of their trademark disappearing acts at the front, there was a healthy amount of dramatic dogfighting down through the field.
Yamaha USA's Eric Bostrom and third Yosh runner Tommy Hayden got away quickly, but Bostrom's race ended spectacularly, as he suffered a massive crash out of second while working lap 2.
Hayden found himself swallowed up by Mladin and the chasing group led by little brother Roger on the Monster Energy Kawasaki ZX-10R. Roger took over third on lap 4 and then switched his attention to the pressuring Jake Zemke on the American Honda CBR1000RR.
'06 MMP winner Zemke's start wasn't much better than Mladin's, but he battled his way from sixth to steal third from the Kawasaki ace on lap 7 of 21. As their struggle for third pushed them away from their pursuers, Zemke's teammate, Miguel DuHamel, and Hayden's Kawasaki teammate, Jamie Hacking engaged in an exciting duel of contrasting lines and close calls as Tommy Hayden sat right behind, waiting for any mistake to take advantage of.
Zemke worked up a bit of a gap in third only to see it disappear while making his way through the lappers, but in the end he managed to hold on for this third podium finish of the season.
The Californian commented, "I think the only guy to get a worse start than me was Mat. It was a little bit tough. My bike was overheating pretty bad, and when it was doing that I couldn't even draft anyone down the straight. I had to pull out to the side to get some air though the radiator. The thing cooled down a little bit and we were able to make forward progress. By the time we got up to third, Mat and Ben had already checked out.
"Rog was riding an awesome race. He was right there and setting a good pace but I thought I could go a little quicker. I was able to get about two seconds on him but I lost it all in traffic. It turned out he kept me honest until the end."
While he fell just short of his first AMA Superbike podium, Kentuckian Hayden had to pleased with a career-best finish of fourth.
DuHamel fended off Hacking at the flag while Suzuki-mounted Tommy Hayden picked up seventh.
Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates won out over Yamaha USA's Jason DiSalvo for eighth and Corona Extra Honda's James Ellison completed the top ten.