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Brainerd: Support events preview

Yates closing in on his first Pro Honda Oils Supersport title. PICKERINGTON, Ohio-- Aaron Yates is in his seventh year of Pro Honda Supersport racing. During that time the 28-year-old Georgian has won enough races in the series to move into...

Yates closing in on his first Pro Honda Oils Supersport title.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio-- Aaron Yates is in his seventh year of Pro Honda Supersport racing. During that time the 28-year-old Georgian has won enough races in the series to move into third on the all-time wins list in the series (only Miguel Duhamel and Mike Smith have won more AMA Supersport races). Yet despite his long and productive AMA Supersport career, Yates has yet to win a championship in the highly-competitive series. He is trying to correct that this year and coming into this Sunday's race at Brainerd International Raceway, Yates is well on his way to earning his first AMA Supersport title. Yates, who rides for Team Blimpie Yoshimura Suzuki, has a commanding 55-point lead over Kentuckian Tommy Hayden coming into this weekend's round seven of the 10-race championship followed by Aussie Damon Buckmaster in third.

"I feel good about where I am now," said Yates, a 10-year AMA road racing veteran. "But I'm not taking anything for granted. I have to go out and make sure I finish out the season to win the championship and I'd like to do it on a winning note if possible."

Yates and Suzuki teammate Jamie Hacking will line up at Brainerd as the only former AMA Supersport winners at the Central Minnesota road course, but it's been four years since a Suzuki rider has won a Supersport event at the track.

Tommy Hayden is hoping that Yates makes a mistake somewhere along the line in the final four rounds. The eldest of the three racing Hayden brothers needs a win at Brainerd to close the points gap on Yates. Hayden's previous best Supersport result at BIR was fourth in 2000. Buckmaster has made a strong return to Supersport after a year away from the series. Brainerd has never been one of his stronger events however; in his previous two Supersport races at Brainerd he finished 10th both times.

Be sure to tune into Speed Channel's live coverage of the Pro Honda Oils Supersport final at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, June 30. MBNA 250 Grand Prix Series leader Chuck Sorensen comes to Brainerd -- the track where he won his very first AMA National in 1994 -- with a solid 45-point lead over Floridian Perry Melneciuc. Sorensen is making a strong bid to win his third AMA 250 Grand Prix championship. His main competition will likely come from last year's winner Rich Oliver. Oliver is racing this season despite suffering serious injuries at Daytona in March then again at Sears Point in May. Oliver will be trying to win a record sixth AMA 250 Grand Prix race at Brainerd.

Minnesota racing fans will get their first chance to watch Lee Acree race this weekend in the Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock race. Acree, 31, from Jamestown, N.C., is a great story-- a rider who came late to racing compared to most pros, he spent years as one of the country's fastest club racers, but raced for fun and never seriously considered a professional racing career. Eventually his results in the club and semi-pro ranks were so strong that friends and sponsors convinced him to give pro racing a try. After a couple years of limited AMA appearances, Acree broke through and won his first AMA national last year in the Superstock season finale. He wasn't even planning on campaigning the entire 2002 AMA Superstock Series with Arclight Suzuki, but after winning two rounds this season he finds himself leading the championship over defending champ Jimmy Moore. Acree will try to hold off the surging Moore, who rides for Corona Extra Suzuki, and Tommy Hayden, the factory Kawasaki rider who is attempting to become the first rider on a 600cc machine to win the Superstock class.

This year's Lockhart Phillips Formula Xtreme Series is the most hotly contested in the six-year history of the series. Five riders are in serious contention for this year's championship with Attack Suzuki's Jason Pridmore narrowly leading Graves Yamaha's Damon Buckmaster, Erion Honda riders Jake Zemke and Mike Hale and Pridmore's young teammate, Ben Spies. Pridmore is on a roll having won the last two rounds, but Honda riders have dominated Formula Xtreme at Brainerd over the years. Zemke is hoping to move up in the rankings by winning his second straight Xtreme race at BIR.

Kirk McCarthy has been unstoppable in the Buell Pro Thunder Series. McCarthy is a perfect three-for-three coming into this weekend's race. Floridian David Estok earned the win in the class last year at Brainerd and will be hoping to stop McCarthy's run. It's possible that McCarthy could wrap-up the title at Brainerd. Burnsville, Minnesota's Jessica Zalusky comes into this weekend's race ranked a very respectable 12th in the Pro Thunder standings.

For additional information contact Brainerd Int'l. Raceway at (810) 249-5530 or visit the website: www.brainerdraceway.com.

For immediate post-race results, points, and live transponder scoring from each race in the championship, log on to amaproracing.com's Superbike Mediacenter, the official home of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship.

-ama-

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Series AMA
Drivers Miguel Duhamel , Tommy Hayden , Jamie Hacking , Lee Acree , Aaron Yates , Damon Buckmaster , Jake Zemke , Jason Pridmore , Mike Smit