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Daytona: Support races preview

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- While much of the attention during Bike Week is focused on the annual Daytona 200 by Arai, there are a number of support races at Daytona International Speedway that provide a surplus of great racing. A couple of riders come...

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- While much of the attention during Bike Week is focused on the annual Daytona 200 by Arai, there are a number of support races at Daytona International Speedway that provide a surplus of great racing. A couple of riders come to the famous speedway to begin defense of their 2001 championships and another is hoping to gain back a title he's held four times before.

Jimmy Moore returns to Daytona the No. 1 rider in Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock Series (formerly 750 Supersport). Moore, 34, from Eugene, Ore., had a truly remarkable season in 2001 breaking through to win his first national and going on to win the championship after years of working his way up the ranks. Moore is part of the powerful Corona Extra Suzuki team, which also is the new home of up-and-coming Canadian Jordan Szoke and former Superbike pilot Steve Rapp. Szoke will join Moore in AMA Superstock competition and they will face a formidable field of capable riders in the class.

Valvoline Suzuki will have Chris Ulrich as its lead Superstock rider. Ulrich surprised a lot of people when he won in Monterey, Calif., last year in his first season of AMA Superstock racing. The Hooters Suzuki team has always been a threat in AMA Superstock racing and it will be no different this year with the team bringing veterans Larry Pegram and Michael Barnes to Daytona. Arclight Racing has been a powerhouse in WERA national endurance racing for years. At Daytona the team will bring in a pair of proven winners in Lee Acree and Craig Connell.

Other riders to watch for in the genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock Series include Vincent Haskovec, the rider from the Czech Republic, who was runner-up to Moore last season. Former AMA Horizon Award winner (signifying the top AMA amateur racer) Jason DiSalvo returns from racing in the European championships to contest the series with backing from Cruise America and Freddie Spencer's High-Performance Racing Schools. New England's Scott Greenwood, winner of the Loudon, N.H., AMA Supersport race last year, is also slated to race the AMA Superstock class at Daytona as is Floridian Mike Ciccotto, who won two races last year before being slowed by injury.

Buell Pro Thunder returns to the track that spawned the series (Pro Thunder originally began as the Daytona-only Battle of the Twins class in the early-1980s). Berkeley, California's Thomas Montano will be racing the No. 1 Munroe Motors Ducati after earning the title last year. Montano's toughest competition should be Hal's Performance Buell rider Mike Ciccotto, who finished second last year.

With last year's MBNA 250 Grand Prix champion Jimmy Filice moving to the Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport Championship this year, the door is wide open for the other riders in the class. The prohibitive favorite has to be 250GP legend Rich Oliver. The 40-year-old from Auberry, Calif., is the winningest rider in the history of the class and is starting his 23rd year of AMA professional racing. Oliver will be shooting for a record fifth title this season on his own team sponsored by Yamaha. Oliver brings on board long-time friend Perry Melneciuc as his teammate. Melneciuc, of Lehigh Acres, Fla., was fourth in the series last year. Two-time AMA MBNA 250 Grand Prix champ Chuck Sorensen will be campaigning a Team Stargel Aprilia this year. In the past the Aprilias have shown good speed and if Sorensen's team can make the bike reliable he will surely be a factor in the championship. Also look for two-time AMA 250 MBNA Grand Prix champion Randy Renfrow to be a contender on his privately-owned Honda entry, as well as hard riding Roland Sands, returning star Al Salaverria and Ireland's Simon Turner.

Live coverage of the Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock final from Daytona can be seen on Speed Channel at 2:00 p.m. Eastern on Friday, March 8, while the MBNA 250 Grand Prix final will broadcast live on Speed Channel, Sunday, March 10 at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.

Be sure to watch the pages of amaproracing.com starting Wednesday, March 6 through the Daytona 200 on Sunday, March 11 for complete racing coverage from all of the AMA Pro Racing action from Bike Week. Coverage will include news, interviews, photos, official results and points, and exclusive lap-by-lap results as they happen!

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Series AMA
Drivers Larry Pegram , Steve Rapp , Jordan Szoke , Lee Acree , Vincent Haskovec , Thomas Montano , Michael Barnes , Craig Connell , Scott Greenwood , Freddie Spencer , Chris Ulrich , Roland Sands