Fontana: Round three doubleheader preview

AMA Superbike Championship: Suzuki Superbike Challenge, Auto Club Speedway PICKERINGTON, Ohio - Just one week following the second round of the 2008 AMA Superbike Championship at Barber Motorsports Park, the series resumes at the third stop of...

AMA Superbike Championship: Suzuki Superbike Challenge, Auto Club Speedway

PICKERINGTON, Ohio - Just one week following the second round of the 2008 AMA Superbike Championship at Barber Motorsports Park, the series resumes at the third stop of the season on April 25-27 with the Suzuki Superbike Challenge at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

California Speedway Gets a New Name

In February of this year the circuit announced a new partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California, the nation's largest member of the AAA federation, and unveiled a name change from California Speedway to Auto Club Speedway.

Home Track

Considering that many of the Superbike teams' race shops are located nearby in Southern California and that Auto Club Speedway is one of the favorite testing venues on the tour, it's not surprising that the Fontana round is viewed by many as their home round.

Location, Location, Location

Auto Club Speedway is located in Fontana, Calif., about 50 minutes east of Los Angeles. The region is one of the largest sportbike markets in the world.

The track is just 10 minutes from Ontario International Airport, which makes it easy to access even for fans flying in from across the nation.


On a Roll

Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin has scored the maximum number of points in the season's first three races, claiming three race wins, three points for most laps led, and both poles. The six-time AMA Superbike champion has looked dominating while doing so, boasting a combined margin of victory of over 27 seconds in the first three races of the year.

Dating back to 2007, the Australian has won nine of the last ten AMA Superbike races.

His rivals shouldn't expect him to back off now; Auto Club Speedway is one of Mladin's best tracks on the tour as he's won a full half of the AMA Superbike races ever held there, winning six times in 12 contests, including the most recent race held in 2007.

Role Reversal

Reigning two-time AMA Superbike Champion Ben Spies has spent the majority of the last two seasons controlling the championship from the front with Mladin chasing him from second. Following two runner-up finishes and an eleventh (after crashing and remounting at Barber Motorsports Park), the Texan currently trails Mladin by 29 points in the early-season title race.

Auto Club Speedway should be a welcome stop for the Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki ace, who has been even more successful than Mladin at the circuit in recent years. The 23-year-old rider has won four of the last six AMA Superbike races held at the venue.

The usually consistent Spies' 11th-place ride in Alabama was his first finish outside the top two in over 20 races, dating all the way back to the 2006 season finale when he cruised to a seventh-place result to secure his first AMA Superbike title.

Emerging Superbike Stars

Spies actually sits fourth in the current standings due to the strong season starts by Yamaha USA's Jason DiSalvo and Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki's Tommy Hayden.

The two have emerged as the 'best of the rest,' each man claiming two podium finishes and a fourth place in the season's opening three races. DiSalvo is second in the points (88) with a second, third, and fourth, while Hayden is third (85) with two thirds and a fourth.


Two Man Gang

Graves Motorsports Yamaha teammates Ben Bostrom and Josh Herrin have been the early-season stars in the Supersport class. Bostrom has earned both poles and won the season opener at Daytona over Herrin by just fractions of a second, while Herrin returned the favor by edging Bostrom to the checkered flag at Barber Motorsports Park.

Bad Luck for the Champ

Monster Energy Kawasaki's reigning class champion, Roger Hayden, will miss his second consecutive Supersport race due to the injuries he sustained during a Superbike qualifying incident at Barber Motorsports Park. The Kentuckian had surgery on his broken finger on Tuesday and has another surgery scheduled for later in the week. His recovery time is still unknown but he's been ruled out from participating at Auto Club Speedway.

Missing Favorite

Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jamie Hacking's decision to focus on the Superbike class in 2008 opens up the Supersport field considerably at Auto Club Speedway. Hacking has dominated the race since its inception, winning four of the six AMA Supersport races held at the track, including the last three in succession.

Head West Young Man

Team M4 EMGO Suzuki's Blake Young is ranked third in the class following two top-five finishes in the class (fifth at Daytona and fourth at BMP), while a number of the pre-season favorites, such as reigning champ Roger Hayden and Erion Honda's Josh Hayes, have failed to get their title campaigns off to ideal starts.


Zemke's Resurgence

Erion Honda's Jake Zemke bounced back from his Daytona disappointment by winning the Formula Xtreme race at Barber Motorsports Park. The Californian also added a Supersport podium, proving that the popular rider will be a force to be reckoned with in his return to support class duty after picking up three years worth of Superbike experience.

The Champ's Struggles Continue

Two-time reigning Formula Xtreme champion Josh Hayes saw his title defense take another hit in Alabama. After losing his Daytona 200 victory due to a disqualification, Hayes crashed out of the lead at Barber Motorsports Park. Even though he remounted to finish seventh, he's already dug himself a huge hole, sitting 40 points out of the championship lead in his quest to claim a third straight FX crown.

Still in Front

Despite running off track briefly during the race, Attack Kawasaki's Chaz Davies held onto the FX points lead by finishing third at Barber Motorsports Park, a fine follow-up to his Daytona 200 victory. His former 250cc World Grand Prix teammate, Team M4 EMGO Suzuki's Martin Cardenas, is ranked second on the strength of fourth and second-place finishes in the year's opening two races.


Still the Man

Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates continues to be the clear favorite in the AMA Superstock class, picking up his second consecutive win of the season at Barber Motorsports Park.

The Georgian has only won at Auto Club Speedway once, taking the 2002 AMA Supersport race victory at the circuit.

Consistency Pays

Team Suzuki's Chris Ulrich is second in the Superstock points race, following up his Daytona fourth with a third at Barber Motorsports Park, the Californian's first podium in the class since the category switched to a 1000cc format.

There's a Honda in the Mix

While Suzuki has dominated the Superstock class as of late, Corona Honda's Jake Holden proved that he and his Honda CBR1000RR to be a factor as well with an impressive performance at Barber Motorsports Park. Coming back strong from a disappointing 13th place ride at Daytona, Holden took the pole, Honda's first in the class since the days when riders on Honda CBR600s used to harass the favorites in the 750 Supersport class.

Coverage on SPEED

Both rounds of the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited from Fontana will be telecast nationally on SPEED. The races will be shown back-to-back on Sunday, April 27 starting with Saturday's race at 4:00 pm Eastern followed by Sunday's race at 5:00 pm Eastern.

The AMA Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei will be airing at 6:00 pm Eastern on Sunday April 27. Coverage of AMA Formula Xtreme and AMA Superstock presented by Dynojet begins at 12:00 pm Eastern, Tuesday, April 29.


Tickets for the April 25-27, 2008 Suzuki Superbike Challenge are available online at www.autoclubspeedway or by calling (800) 944-RACE.

-credit: ama

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series AMA
Drivers Tommy Hayden , Joshua Hayes , Jamie Hacking , Aaron Yates , Jake Zemke , Roger Lee Hayden , Ben Spies , Blake Young , Chris Ulrich , Jake Holden , Josh Herrin , Martin Cardenas , Ben Bostrom