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Daytona: Mat Mladin preview

Two-Time Defending Daytona 200 By Arai Champion Mat Mladin On A Roll DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Feb. 27, 2002) - The records are mounting for Mat Mladin. In 2001, the 29-year-old native of Australia won his third straight AMA Superbike...

Two-Time Defending Daytona 200 By Arai Champion Mat Mladin On A Roll

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Feb. 27, 2002) - The records are mounting for Mat Mladin.

In 2001, the 29-year-old native of Australia won his third straight AMA Superbike championship, becoming the fourth rider in the history of the AMA to win three Superbike titles, and the first to win three straight since Fred Merkel in 1986.

Mladin kicked off his championship campaign by winning North America's most prestigious motorcycle race * the Daytona 200 By Arai -- in dominating fashion and capturing the pole with a lap of 1 minute, 48.424 seconds, 118.203 mph, which broke the Daytona 200 By Arai qualifying record He followed up his Daytona 200 By Arai triumph with victories at Road Atlanta, Road America and Mid-Ohio, bringing his season tally to four wins. Mladin, who is now tied for fifth on the all-time AMA Superbike wins list with 14, also became the leading all-time AMA Superbike pole winner last season.

In the 61st anniversary Daytona 200 By Arai on March 10, Mladin will begin his quest for an unprecedented fourth AMA Superbike title. He'll also be vying for his third straight Daytona 200 By Arai victory. Nine riders have won two consecutive Daytona 200s, but nobody has won three straight.

With all the records and success, Mladin doesn't lose sight with one of the big reasons he's at the top of his sport.

"I've got a great team behind me," Mladin said. "I've got the right people that do the right job. In all their different areas where they have to be good, they are. I've got a good crew chief. I've got a good chassis guy. I've got a good engine builder. I've got a good guy doing data acquisition.

"I've got the right people for the right job. That makes all the difference. Without those guys, we wouldn't have won anything."

Mladin expects to have the right package again for a third straight Daytona 200 By Arai victory. He expressed his confidence during a December Dunlop tire test at the Speedway.

"It's still the same bike that we used to win the championship (in 2001)," Mladin said. "It was a new bike in 2001 and next year it will be developed more. We're looking to come back here and win another (Daytona 200). We wouldn't be coming otherwise."

Said Mladin's Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Aaron Yates: "Yeah, right now he's the man. He has won (the Daytona 200) twice. He has won the championship three times. He's definitely the man to beat."

Tickets for the Daytona 200 By Arai are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.

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Series AMA
Drivers Aaron Yates , Fred Merkel