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Thunder Valley: Formula Xtreme, Superstock preview

HAYES CLOSING FAST IN AMA FORMULA XTREME PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 18, 2006) -- The intra-squad battle between Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series riders Jason DiSalvo and Eric Bostrom, of Graves Yamaha, stole most of the headlines early...

HAYES CLOSING FAST IN AMA FORMULA XTREME

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 18, 2006) -- The intra-squad battle between Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series riders Jason DiSalvo and Eric Bostrom, of Graves Yamaha, stole most of the headlines early in the season, but lurking in the shadows was Erion Honda's Josh Hayes. After winning in Utah last month Hayes' bid for the Formula Xtreme lead is now in broad daylight. DiSalvo, Hayes and Bostrom bring their three-way scuffle to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this Saturday, July 22, for round seven of the 11-race series.

Hayes became the fourth winner in Formula Xtreme this year with his victory at the last round of the series at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. Hayes' win not only gave him his first career Formula Xtreme victory, it also put him within two points of series leader DiSalvo. That means whichever rider finishes in front of the other between Hayes and DiSalvo at Laguna Seca will likely leave the Monterey Peninsula with the points lead as the series makes its turn for the homestretch.

When asked if he'll change his approach at Laguna Seca now that he's so close to the series lead, Hayes replied that he'll look at this Saturday's race like any other.

"We want to win the championship," Hayes said. "We want to win races, too. Everybody in the championship is capable of winning races, so you can't give them away. We have to win races right now. I think it's exciting. I think it's good for the series, and hopefully it continues. Of course I'd like to win all the races from here on out, but that's kind of a tall order. But we're going to keep chipping away, and we're going to try to make a good race of it."

Bostrom is also very much in the hunt, just 15 points out of the series lead. With his winning record at Laguna Seca it would be hard to bet against him to tighten up the points chase even further. The Northern California native is eager to get back to his home track.

"Laguna has made some track improvements so that's exciting," said Bostrom, who witnessed his very first road race as a fan at the 1988 USGP at Laguna Seca. "All of these tracks stepping up and making it safer seems to be the direction the series is going and I'm real happy about that. This race is critical for me in the championship. I'm pretty close in the points, but a win would put me that much closer. The track has new pavement so it's going to be a question mark for all of us. We did some extensive testing of the 600 [Yamaha's R6 Formula Xtreme bike] and found some positive new directions to go."

While the focus is primarily on the series' top three riders, Aaron Gobert's second-place result on his Erion Honda in Utah, served notice that yet another rider is a potential winner in the class.

Yamaha's Jamie Hacking continues to lead in two classes, Pro Honda Oils Supersport presented by Shoei and the Repsol Lubricants Superstock Series. In AMA Superstock it appeared that Yoshimura Suzuki's Aaron Yates was about to catch Hacking in the points after winning in June at Road America, but Hacking answered the challenge and scored his first double victory in Supersport and Superstock in Utah, and staved off, at least temporarily, the bid by Yates for the Superstock points lead.

Yates, who won the AMA Superstock race at Laguna last year, will try again to gain the ground he lost to Hacking in Utah. If the Georgian veteran wins it would mark the first time a rider has won back-to-back Laguna Superstock races since Tom Kipp accomplished the feat in 1994 and 1995.

M4 EMGO Suzuki's Geoff May and Graves Yamaha's Jason DiSalvo will also be serious contenders at Laguna. May is coming off an excellent ride in Utah, where he led most of the race before being passed by Hacking and then Yates in the last two laps. DiSalvo scored a victory in the class at California Speedway in April and he'll be eager to win again in Monterey.

Josh Hayes, of Erion Honda, and Chris Ulrich, of the RoadracingWorld.com Suzuki team are also former Superstock winners at Laguna Seca. Hayes won in 2003, Ulrich in 2001.

The Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme final from Laguna Seca will be shown on SPEED on Sunday, July 23 at 6:00 p.m. eastern. The Repsol Lubricants Superstock race can be viewed on Tuesday, July 25, at 3:00 p.m. eastern.

The Laguna Seca Formula Xtreme and Superstock races are part of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix weekend that runs July 21-23. 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 online at www.laguna-seca.com.

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Series AMA
Drivers Jamie Hacking , Geoff May , Tom Kipp , Chris Ulrich , Josh Hayes