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Daytona: Supersport preview

HAYDEN SET TO DEFEND DAYTONA SUPERSPORT VICTORY PICKERINGTON, Ohio (March 6, 2006) -- Tommy Hayden will not defend his title in the 2006 Pro Honda Supersport Championship presented by Shoei, but he will race with the No. 1 plate on his...

HAYDEN SET TO DEFEND DAYTONA SUPERSPORT VICTORY

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (March 6, 2006) -- Tommy Hayden will not defend his title in the 2006 Pro Honda Supersport Championship presented by Shoei, but he will race with the No. 1 plate on his Kawasaki one time when he makes a special appearance in the Daytona Supersport race in front of a live national television audience on Thursday, March 9 at Daytona International Speedway.

Hayden feels racing Supersport at Daytona only frees him from worry and will enable him to concentrate on his main priority this year: an AMA Superbike Championship.

"I've never had a one-off ride like this in road racing before," said the eldest of the three racing Hayden brothers from Owensboro, Ky. "It'll be kind of nice to not have to worry about points or anything except going for the win. I haven't been testing the Supersport bike much, but our team has a pretty good set up and I feel comfortable with it, so we should be ready to go."

When asked if the race came down between him and his teammate and brother Roger Lee - who is racing the entire series - what he would do he replied, "May the best man win. I respect the Daytona Supersport race too much to do anything but go for the win if I have the opportunity. It will be nice after Daytona though to be able to root for Roger Lee in the class. It's been tough battling each other for the championship. I really want him to win it this year."

Roger Lee stormed back after his bike broke at Daytona last year to finish second to Tommy in the Supersport point standings last season. The youngest of the Hayden brothers is expected to be a heavy favorite to win this year's championship and a victory at Daytona would put him in a great position to do just that.

Kawasaki is loaded in Supersport at Daytona. In addition to the Hayden's on the factory ZX6Rs, Attack Kawasaki features the strong Australian duo of Ben Attard and Damon Buckmaster. Attard and Buckmaster are serious challengers for the title this season and could give a factory support team the championship for the first time in six year.

Jamie Hacking won the Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei in 2003 and he'll be eager to win it back in 2006 on the potent factory Yamaha R6. Hacking has been oh-so-close to winning the Daytona Supersport race. The Carolinian has finished on the podium three times and he hopes to finally stand atop the box in the Daytona winner's circle this year.

Ben Spies leads Suzuki's effort in the class. The young Texan scored a career best fourth in the Daytona Supersport race last year. This time around he has an improved Suzuki GSX-R600 and hopes to find himself leading the pack at the checkered flag.

Florida's own Michael Barnes is a former Supersport winner at Daytona. He won the fall Supersport race that used to be held in October back in 1989. Now 17 years later he's still seeking that elusive first win in the March event. While Barnes is one of the most experienced veterans in the field, his Team M4 EMGO Suzuki running mate is young Texan Shea Fouchek. Many expert observers are predicting great things from Fouchek, who came out of the same Texas racing system that produced such greats as Freddie Spencer, Kevin Schwantz, Doug Polen, John Kocinski and Colin Edwards.

Chris Caylor and Tony Meiring make up a solid team in the Safety First Suzuki squad. MPT Suzuki's Danny Eslick is also a rider to watch, a fast-rising Oklahoman now in his second full season of road racing.

Honda is not fielding a factory effort in the class, but San Francisco Bay Area's speedster Jeffrey Tigert could surprise a lot of people on his Pro Honda Oils-backed CBR600RR.

Qualifying for the Daytona Supersport race starts Wednesday (March 8) afternoon and the 22-lap final will take the green flag on Thursday, March 9 at 4:50 pm EST. It will be televised live on SPEED Channel.

Tickets for the Daytona Supersport are available at www.racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

About AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross Series, the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF, the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited, the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship and the AMA Supermoto Championship. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.

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Series AMA
Drivers Kevin Schwantz , Tommy Hayden , Tony Meiring , Jamie Hacking , Damon Buckmaster , Ben Spies , Jeffrey Tigert , Michael Barnes , Ben Attard , Freddie Spencer , Chris Caylor , Danny Eslick