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Fontana: Round two preview, schedule

Mladin Could Become All-Time AMA Superbike Wins Leader at Yamaha Superbike Challenge Aussie just one win behind wins leader Duhamel coming into Fontana doubleheader PICKERINGTON, Ohio (March 26, 2004) -- In 2003 Mat Mladin became the first...

Mladin Could Become All-Time AMA Superbike Wins Leader at Yamaha Superbike Challenge
Aussie just one win behind wins leader Duhamel coming into Fontana doubleheader

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (March 26, 2004) -- In 2003 Mat Mladin became the first rider in AMA Superbike history to win four championships. This year the 32-year-old Yoshimura Suzuki ace is chasing not only a record fifth title, but is also on the verge of becoming the all-time wins leader in AMA Superbike. Mladin could become the wins leader during rounds two and three of the 2004 AMA Chevrolet Superbike Championship in the Yamaha Superbike Challenge at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on April 2-4.

Mladin is coming off his third win in the prestigious Daytona 200 by Arai. It marked his 25th-career AMA Superbike win, putting him just a single victory behind Honda's veteran Miguel Duhamel. Duhamel has held the title of all-time leading AMA Superbike winner for six years. He passed Motorcycle Hall of Famer Fred Merkel's 20-career wins in 1998.

During pre-season testing it looked as if Mladin and his factory Suzuki GSX-R1000 would face an overwhelming challenge against the three Honda factory riders and the factory Ducati ridden by Eric Bostrom, but his outlook changed dramatically after Daytona. Mladin credits the Yoshimura Suzuki team for putting him in the position of becoming the all-time wins leader.

"Records are there to be broken, you know," said Mladin, whose Daytona victory also moved Suzuki past Kawasaki for second on the all-time AMA Superbike wins list by manufacturer. "Somebody's going to come along in the future and some young kid, a Ben Spies or a Jason DiSalvo, and probably break that record, if I get Miguel's. So they're there to be broken, and that's it. Race wins are race wins. And I've been fortunate. I've had a great team over the past six years and I've been able to win a lot of races. We took a big chunk out of Miguel's race win lead last year with a really great motorcycle. This year's probably going to be a little bit tougher. But we're ready. To win Daytona, I feel a lot more comfortable going into the season. If we can win this race, we're going to be competitive."

Mladin also comes into Fontana with the comfort of knowing he swept the doubleheader there last year. His pair of wins a year ago gave him the series points lead and launched his record-setting 2003 season.

Erion Honda's Jake Zemke surprised a lot of people by edging out Duhamel for second at Daytona. Zemke, of Paso Robles, Calif., comes into Fontana the second ranked AMA Superbike rider in his first season in the series. Zemke would love nothing more than to keep the surprises coming and nothing short of a win in the doubleheader weekend would do the job.

Former AMA Superbike champ Miguel Duhamel is entering his 17th season of professional racing and is chasing his second title in the series after claiming the top spot in 1995. One thing that Duhamel has proven over the years is that you can never count him out. He has a great deal of incentive to do well at Fontana. Not only is he trying to hold off Mladin atop the all-time AMA Superbike wins list, he also sees a great opportunity to win his second AMA Superbike championship riding the new Honda CBR1000RR. One clue of Duhamel's commitment to winning this year's title came at Daytona where he admitted thinking a little more about the bigger championship picture rather than a single race.

"The CBR1000 I think is a wonderful machine," he said after getting third in the Daytona 200. "I want to be sure to be in a good position and come out through the season strong. Because winning Daytona is great, but winning the championship is pretty good too."

Two riders who will be eager to make up for dismal starts to the season will be the brothers Ben and Eric Bostrom. Both brothers experienced mechanical failures that caused them to drop out at Daytona. Eric was the pole winner on the Ducati Austin 999 and has repeatedly said that he is very much looking forward to racing the nimble handling Ducati at road courses like Fontana. Ben, like teammate Duhamel, claims that the new Honda is the best Superbike he's ever ridden and he too has considerable motivation to win at least one of the races at California Speedway. Ben is anxious to get his first win in the AMA Superbike Championship in five years and prove that he still has the ability to win the championship as he did in 1998.

Suzuki's Aaron Yates will miss Fontana. The Georgian will miss both Superbike races as well as the Supersport race as he is serving a suspension handed to him by AMA Pro Racing after a post-crash incident at Daytona. Yates is slated to return to competition next month at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Privateer teams promise to figure prominently at Fontana. Six of the top-10 finishers at Daytona were on privateer squads. Jack Pfeifer had a great ride to finish fourth in the season opener. It marked the best finish by a privateer in the Daytona 200 in 14 years. The Las Vegas resident hopes to keep the momentum going at Fontana. Pfeifer rides a Pirelli-shod Suzuki.

Among other leading privateers at Fontana will be Empire Racing Suzuki's Lee Acree and Chris Caylor, the Attack Kawasaki of Josh Hayes and Yamaha privateer Larry Pegram. Canadian Superbike champ Pascal Picotte is also expected to race Fontana on a Yamaha.

Both Superbike races from the Yamaha Superbike Challenge doubleheader will be televised on SPEED Channel Sunday afternoon, April 4. Saturday's Superbike race will be shown from 5-6 p.m. EST, and Sunday's race will be shown from 6-7 p.m. EST.

For additional information on the Yamaha Superbike Challenge call 800-944-RACE (7223) or visit the website www.californiaspeedway.com.

For immediate post-race results, points, live transponder scoring, in-depth series and rider information, regular columnists and much more, log onto www.USSuperbike.com, the official website of the AMA Chevrolet Superbike Championship.

Schedule of Events

AMA Chevrolet Superbike Championship Presented by Parts Unlimited Yamaha Superbike Challenge at California Speedway -- April 2-4, 2004 <pre> Friday, April 2 8:30-9:05 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Practice 9:10-9:40 Repsol Superstock Practice 9:45-10:15 Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets Practice 10:20-11:10 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Practice 12:10-12:45 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Practice 12:50-1:20 Repsol Superstock Practice 1:25-1:55 Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets Practice 2:00-2:50 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Practice 3:00-3:30 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Qualifying Group 1 3:40-4:10 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Qualifying Group 2 4:20-4:50 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Qualifying Group 1 5:00-5:30 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Qualifying Group 2

Saturday, April 3 8:30-9:10 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Practice 9:15-9:45 Repsol Superstock Practice 9:50-10:20 Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets Practice 10:30-11:10 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Qualifying Group 1 11:20-12:00 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Qualifying Group 2 1:00-1:30 Repsol Superstock Qualifying Group 1 1:40-2:10 Repsol Superstock Qualifying Group 2 2:20-2:50 Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets Qualifying Group 1 3:00-3:30 Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets Qualifying Group 2 3:40 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Race 1 (100K-28 laps) 4:40 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme (60k-17 laps)

Sunday, April 4 9:00-9:35 Repsol Superstock Practice 9:40-10:15 Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets Practice 10:20-11:00 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Practice FINAL EVENTS: 12:00 AMA Repsol Superstock Race (60k-17 laps) 1:00 Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets (60k-17 laps) 2:00 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Race 2 (100k-28 laps)

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Series AMA
Drivers Larry Pegram , Miguel Duhamel , Lee Acree , Aaron Yates , Eric Bostrom , Jake Zemke , Ben Spies , Jack Pfeifer , Chris Caylor , Fred Merkel