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Laguna Seca: Round seven preview

BOSTROM HOPES TO KEEP TRADITION ALIVE AT LAGUNA SECA PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 17, 2006) -- Ben Bostrom has struggled in the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited this season, but with a strong recent showing in Utah and the ...

BOSTROM HOPES TO KEEP TRADITION ALIVE AT LAGUNA SECA

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 17, 2006) -- Ben Bostrom has struggled in the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited this season, but with a strong recent showing in Utah and the upcoming round at what he considers his home track, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in Monterey, Calif., on Saturday, July 22, Bostrom's season could be ready to take a turn for the better.

The Bostrom brothers, Ben together with his younger brother Eric, have established a tradition of excellence at Laguna Seca over the years. Between them the two have won seven major races at the track. Ben started the trend seven years ago when he won a leg of the World Superbike Championship at the track. Since 2001 Ben and Eric have combined to win four of the five AMA Superbike races held at Laguna Seca. While Eric (who is not racing in the Superbike class this season) won't have the opportunity to defend his 2005 Laguna Seca Superbike victory, Ben is hoping to not only uphold family honors at the track, but is also aiming to jump-start his season with his first AMA Superbike victory in two years.

"I think we should be in the hunt at Laguna," said the elder Bostrom, who rides for Parts Unlimited Ducati. "We've gained a lot of knowledge on the Ducati in recent tests and when we make changes now we have a good feel for how that's going to affect the bike. I took some positives away from Utah. The feeling of running up front, I want to do that more often. It would be great to get back on top of the box again. It's been since '04. That's a long time ago and we're due."

While Bostrom is counting on a home track advantage, Laguna also marks the renewal of the battle for the championship between Yoshimura Suzuki teammates Ben Spies and Mat Mladin. Spies holds a 21-point margin over Mladin coming into Monterey. The young Texan, who just turned 22 the week before Laguna Seca, is seeking his first Laguna Seca Superbike victory.

Spies is looking to the future and his name has already been mentioned in MotoGP circles. A solid performance in front of the international cadre that will be on hand for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix could be a career booster.

Mladin is the defending series champ and the 2003 Laguna Superbike winner. Even though he's behind in the points, he feels there's plenty of time to make up ground. "Eight rounds to go, 21 points between us-- I'm looking forward to it," said a confident sounding Mladin, the all-time wins leader in AMA Superbike racing.

The American Honda team seems to be hitting its stride at mid-season. Team member Jake Zemke broke through to win his first AMA Superbike race of the season at Miller Motorsports Park, in Utah, last month. The confidence that victory gave Zemke could be the breakthrough the team has been striving for all season.

"As a racer, you want to go to the front, and sometimes the bike just won't allow it when you have to try 50 different things on a weekend," Zemke said after his Utah victory of Honda's earlier struggles. "We always hoped it would happen sooner [getting a win], but it's a lot of hard work, and the guys worked really hard to get to this point, and today it all paid off. We're just really happy to be sitting up here right now."

Zemke's teammate Miguel Duhamel is third in the standings. He too is a former Laguna Superbike winner, last earning victory there in 1998.

Kawasaki has won its share of Superbike races at Laguna Seca over the years. From the days of Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey in the early 1980s to Doug Chandler in the mid-1990s and Eric Bostrom in the early 2000s. The team is back with a factory effort again this year and Tommy Hayden, eldest of the trio of racing Hayden brothers, hopes to put in a good showing this weekend.

Yoshimura Suzuki's Aaron Yates and Parts Unlimited Ducati's Neil Hodgson also hope to make a splash at the "Dry Lake". The Michael Jordan Suzuki squad is headed by Jason Pridmore, who is ranked ninth in the standings. Teammate Steve Rapp, who is originally from the Bay Area, is just behind Pridmore in tenth. The newest member of the team, Jake Holden is ranked 12th.

The Laguna Seca Superbike round will receive next-day coverage on SPEED starting at 3:00 p.m. eastern on Sunday, July 23.

The AMA Superbike Championship round is part of the jam-packed Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix weekend that kicks off this Friday. Call 1-800-327-SECA or (831) 242-8200 to purchase tickets for the combined Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix/AMA Superbike Championship weekend. You can also buy tickets by going online at www.laguna-seca.com.

WHAT: The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, round 12 of the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited.
WHERE: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. From Highway 1: Take the Hwy 68 exit East. Travel approximately 10 miles to main entrance. Entrance will be on the left.
WHEN: July 21-23, 2006.
COURSE: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca's newly revamped 2.238-mile, 11-turn course.

SCHEDULE:

Friday --

Practice begins at 8:00 a.m. Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme qualifying at 4:15 p.m.

Saturday --

Practice at 8:00 a.m., Repsol Lubricants Superstock qualifying at 8:25 a.m., Pro Honda Oils Supersport presented by Shoei qualifying at 9:00 a.m., AMA Superbike qualifying at 11:15 a.m., Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme final at 12:05 p.m., MotoGP qualifying at 2:00 p.m., AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unilmited final at 4:00 p.m.

Sunday --

Practice starts at 8:55 a.m., Pro Honda Oils Supersport final at 11:30 a.m., MotoGP race at 2:00 p.m. and Repsol Lubricants Superstock final at 3:45 p.m.

TICKETS:

$25 Friday General Admission, $40 Saturday General Admission, $55 Sunday General Admission, $80 2-Day General Admission (Sat/Sun), $90 3-Day General Admission (Fri/Sat/Sun). Camping available $45 Sat. night, $90 for two nights Sat./Sun., $135 for three nights Thurs./Fri./Sat. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult (except as noted and hospitality packages).

-www.amaproracing.com

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About this article
Series AMA
Drivers Steve Rapp , Miguel Duhamel , Tommy Hayden , Doug Chandler , Aaron Yates , Eric Bostrom , Jake Zemke , Ben Spies , Wayne Rainey , Eddie Lawson , Jason Pridmore , Ben Bostrom