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Five former winners slated for Mid-Ohio

Five former winners slated to race Mid-Ohio's Honda Super Cycle Weekend PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 16, 2004) -- Five former Mid-Ohio Superbike winners are slated to take to the track as the AMA Chevrolet Superbike Championship comes to Lexington,...

Five former winners slated to race Mid-Ohio's Honda Super Cycle Weekend

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 16, 2004) -- Five former Mid-Ohio Superbike winners are slated to take to the track as the AMA Chevrolet Superbike Championship comes to Lexington, Ohio, for the doubleheader Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire on July 23-25. The races are rounds 13 and 14 of the 18-race championship. Defending race winner Mat Mladin, of Yoshimura Suzuki, leads the series holding a 10-point lead over Honda's Miguel Duhamel. Erion Racing Honda's rookie factory rider Jake Zemke is a close third in the standings.

Joining Mladin and Duhamel as former Mid-Ohio Superbike winners are Aaron Yates, Eric Bostrom and Pascal Picotte. All five of these AMA Superbike stars have raised the Mid-Ohio Superbike winners' trophy. Three riders - Mladin, Yates and Doug Chandler - in the 21-year history of Mid-Ohio Superbike racing have won three races at the famous road racing circuit. Mladin, Yates and Duhamel will all vie to become the first four or perhaps five-time Mid-Ohio Superbike winner at the doubleheader.

The series this season has been one of the most competitive in years. Five riders have won this year representing three brands of motorcycles. Mladin not only holds the points lead, but also leads the way with five victories to this point in the series. Duhamel has four wins, while Zemke, Eric and Ben Bostrom have all earned a single win so far this year. Mladin feels good about the upcoming doubleheader after turning in the fastest time in testing at Mid-Ohio a few weeks ago.

"Testing went pretty well for us at Mid-Ohio," said Mladin, the four-time AMA Superbike champ. "We were pleased with the lap times we were able to put in with race tires. We need a couple of wins. That's all that will be acceptable."

In Monterey, Calif., a week and a half ago Mladin and his Yoshimura Suzuki seemed to stem the tide of the fast improving Hondas of Duhamel and Zemke. He looked to have the Laguna Seca race sewn up before a red flag came out and stopped the action. On the restart Mladin moved up and made a serious last-lap bid for the win, but came up just short of former World Superbike star Ben Bostrom.

"The story that hasn't been told enough is that Honda has a motorcycle that's suited well to the 2004 AMA Superbike rules," Mladin claims. "When you get to a track like Mid-Ohio, we're hoping that hard riding and a good motor bike set up on our Suzuki will allow us to make up in different parts of the race track to have a chance to go for the win. We have a close championship and I need to win some races."

While the primary story between Duhamel and Mladin is the championship battle, the two have also traded the lead on the all-time AMA Superbike wins this season. Mladin took the honor from Duhamel, who held the title since 1998. Then Duhamel's mid-season surge gave him back the all-time wins stat. Coming into Mid-Ohio Duhamel has 30 AMA Superbike wins to Mladin's 29. Those numbers could easily change over the course of the doubleheader weekend.

Additionally, Honda holds the all-time Mid-Ohio Superbike win record with nine victories. Suzuki has eight and if Mladin is successful he could make his manufacturer the all-time wins leader for the Mid-Ohio race.

Making a strong surge at the last round of the series was Ben Bostrom. Bostrom finally earned his first win since returning from a successful three-year run in the World Superbike Series that ended in 2002.

"We're back and we're racing again, racing for the win," said a rejuvenated Bostrom. "I had problems beginning back at Daytona when I had an ear infection. It really affected my balance for a long time. It feels so good to get back on the top of the podium again."

When asked how he felt about some people losing faith in his riding. "They had every right to," Bostrom explained. "I'm riding on the best bike on the best team and I should have produced better results than I did. Hopefully everything will turn around now. I'm not racing for the championship so I'm just going out there to win races."

Bostrom did something former World Superbike standouts Scott Russell, Fred Merkel, Doug Polen and John Kocinski were never able to accomplish and that's win an AMA Superbike race upon returning to AMA racing after their world championship stints.

Ben's younger brother Eric won at Mid-Ohio in 2002 and he is hoping to put his Ducati Austin machine atop the podium this year. Bostrom will try to give Ducati only its second win at Mid-Ohio. Doug Polen earned a victory for the Italian maker at Mid-Ohio in 1992.

Ohio fans will be rooting for Baltimore, Ohio native Larry Pegram. Pegram, a former leading flat track racer, is contesting the series on a privateer Yamaha entry sponsored in part by Triangle Cycle. He is ranked 11th in the series and hoping to crack the top-10 with a pair of good finishes at his home race.

Pegram is among a host of privateer riders doing well in AMA Superbike racing this year. Last year's AMA Superbike Rookie of the Year Geoff May is the leading privateer in the series. The second-year Superbike rider who rides with Team Prieto Racing has strung together a remarkable 11-straight top-10 finishes in the series and is ranked fifth.

Mid-Ohio was the sight of the last privateer win in AMA Superbike racing. Dale Quarterley rode his own Kawasaki to victory in the 1993 race.

Both Mid-Ohio Superbike races will be televised nationally on SPEED Channel on Sunday July 25. Saturday's race will be shown at 2 p.m. Eastern followed by the live broadcast of Sunday's final.

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Series AMA
Drivers Larry Pegram , Miguel Duhamel , Doug Chandler , Scott Russell , Geoff May , Eric Bostrom , Jake Zemke , Pascal Picotte , Dale Quarterley , Fred Merkel , Ben Bostrom