BEN SPIES: 2006 AMA SUPERBIKE CHAMPION PICKERINGTON, Ohio (October 3, 2006) -- Ben Spies earned his first AMA Superbike Championship on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2006, with a conservative seventh-place finish in the season finale at Mid-Ohio Sports Car ...
BEN SPIES: 2006 AMA SUPERBIKE CHAMPION
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (October 3, 2006) -- Ben Spies earned his first AMA Superbike Championship on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2006, with a conservative seventh-place finish in the season finale at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
It marked a record 10th AMA Superbike Championship for Suzuki.
Spies, a 22-year-old, second year AMA Superbike rider from Longview, Texas, had a record-setting season that showed his speed, determination and grit. Spies and his crew came into their own this year. From the second round at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., in April, through to the late May event at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., Spies went on a record-tying six race winning streak. That tied the six consecutive AMA Superbike wins set by Miguel Duhamel in 1995.
Spies then showed his resolve after breaking his hand during qualifying at Virginia International Race in mid-August. He continued to ride and even with the painful injury he was able to earn podium finishes in three of the next four rounds. In the end Spies needed only to finish 13th or better at Mid-Ohio to secure the championship. He actually let most of the other factory riders pass him in the final so he could race on a clear track and not have to worry about potentially getting caught up in another rider's crash.
"That's the tightest I've ever ridden in my life," Spies said of the Mid-Ohio finale. "I'm not going to lie about that. I was definitely nervous, and didn't want to slow anybody else up. I saw Mat right behind me one corner, and obviously I'm not going to win the race, so I want him to. I just didn't want to get in anybody's way."
In 19 races during the 2006 season Spies won a series leading 10 rounds and only finished off the podium twice. He also won a best-in-series seven poles at the 11 racing venues.
Spies entered 2006 with one AMA Superbike victory. He now owns 11-career wins, which puts him in a tie with Anthony Gobert for 12th on the all-time AMA Superbike wins list.
Spies, who turned 22 in July, is the second youngest rider in the history of AMA Superbike to win the championship. He is the 17th rider to earn the title and the third rider from Texas to win the championship following in the footsteps of Bubba Shobert and Doug Polen.
Spies has already signed to return to the Yoshimura Suzuki squad to contest the AMA Superbike Championship again in 2007.
"It was an awesome season," Spies said on reviewing his 2006 campaign. "The bike just worked really good. The team worked awesome. It was a little bummer we had the mistake at Virginia and I had to ride hurt a little bit. Obviously I wish that wouldn't have happened, but it did, and we worked our way through it. Mat came on strong at the end, and we luckily brought it home. It hasn't quite sunk in yet, but it's - I can already tell the feeling is getting there. Hopefully next year, now we know what to expect for a full year leading, and the pressure, and all that stuff. So just go back home and train, and obviously try not to take a step backwards, make a couple steps forwards, and be tougher next year. That's the goal."
-credit: ama pro racing