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Birmingham: Formula Xtreme, Supderstock preview

RAPP SURPRISE LEADER OF AMA FORMULA XTREME SERIES Spies leading the way in AMA Superstock PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 17, 2007) -- Steve Rapp earned the biggest win of his career last month by taking a surprise victory in the Daytona 200. Now the...

RAPP SURPRISE LEADER OF AMA FORMULA XTREME SERIES
Spies leading the way in AMA Superstock

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 17, 2007) -- Steve Rapp earned the biggest win of his career last month by taking a surprise victory in the Daytona 200. Now the Attack Kawasaki rider approaches the rest of the Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series presented by HMR with the confidence the Daytona victory gave him. Rapp will be one of the favorites when the series comes to Barber Motorsports Park, in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, April 21.

Rapp is still basking in the glory of winning the historic Daytona 200 on March 10. Now the resident of Manhattan Beach, Calif., turns his attention to the balance of the Formula Xtreme season. He and teammate Ben Attard, who finished second in Daytona and comes to Barber ranked second in the series, will attempt to give Kawasaki its first Formula Xtreme title.

Rapp feels his new ride with Attack Kawasaki may be the spark his racing career needed.

"For me to be on a new team, on a new bike, with new tires, just makes me feel good that maybe over the years I just didn't have the right combination," said Rapp, who turned pro in 1996. "I never tried a lot of different things. I was always just with one team, one brand of this, one brand of that. Until you get around to trying everything, you don't know. I think that's the case with this. You get on a good bike with good tires on a good team, and it just suits my style. Not to say that the other teams weren't good or the tires weren't good, but maybe they didn't work with the way I rode."

M4 EMGO Suzuki's Michael Barnes is third in the Formula Xtreme standings after earning his first podium in the Daytona 200. Barnes, 38, of Boca Raton, Fla., is one of the most experienced riders in the AMA paddock and he feels like he is ready to make a serious bid at the Formula Xtreme title.

"I'm really excited to see the progress Pirelli has made with its racing tires," Barnes said. "They've shown their commitment to our team and the series and I think that's going to pay dividends this season."

Another impressive performer at Daytona was young Brit Chaz Davies. Davies finished fourth at Daytona on the Celtic Performance Yamaha and he impressed a lot of experts with his speed and race savvy at Daytona. It will be interesting to see how Davies performs at Barber, a track that's considered a real riders' circuit.

Defending series champ Josh Hayes got off to a less than stellar start to the season, with fuel-related problems with his Erion Honda at Daytona. He made it to the finish with extra pit stops and was able to salvage a sixth-place finish in the opener. Hayes realizes he now has a tall task of working his way back into the position to defend his championship. The Mississippi native will be among the favorites at Barber.

While Formula Xtreme appears to be wide open in 2007, Ben Spies is a clear-cut favorite in AMA Superstock this year. Last year Spies seemed to approach his second class (last year Supersport) with less than 100 percent commitment, instead focusing on earning his first AMA Superbike title. This year Spies, of Longview, Texas, feels the situation is different.

"Our Suzuki is so strong that I think it's the best bike in the field," Spies said. "Having the best bike is going to make things a lot easier on me in my effort to win two championships this year. I don't think Superstock distracts from my Superbike efforts. The bike is so similar in many ways to the Superbike that it actually helps me for both classes. My goal is to win both titles this year."

Suzuki is loaded in Superstock with Spies leading the way and other top Suzuki riders hoping to keep pace. M4 EMGO Suzuki's Geoff May, Jordan Suzuki riders Aaron Yates and Jake Holden, Matsushima Suzuki's Danny Eslick and Chris Ulrich, of Roadracingworld.com Suzuki all are proven contenders in the class. Yates, of Milledgeville, Ga., is the defending Barber Superstock winner.

Ben Bostrom, with the Graves Motorsports Yamaha team, is the one non-Suzuki rider with a serious shot at winning the title. A former AMA Superbike Champion, Bostrom finished runner up to Spies at Daytona and he loves riding the Graves Yamaha R1 Superstock bike.

"I'm getting comfortable on the R1 very quickly," Bostrom said. "If we continue to improve I think we have a legitimate shot at winning Superstock this year. It feels great because it's been a while since I felt I had this kind of chance at a championship."

Tickets for the 5th annual Honda Superbike Classic at Barber Motorsports Park can be purchased via the website www.barbermotorsports.com or you can charge by phone at (205) 327-RACE or 1-800-240-2300.

The Barber Formula Xtreme and Superstock races will be shown on SPEED on Tuesday, April 24 at Noon Eastern.

-credit: ama

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Series AMA
Drivers Steve Rapp , Geoff May , Aaron Yates , Ben Spies , Chaz Davies , Michael Barnes , Ben Attard , Chris Ulrich , Jake Holden , Ben Bostrom , Josh Hayes