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Fontana: Supersport preview

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (March 29, 2004) -- Jason DiSalvo, 20, of Stafford, N.Y., has been on the racing radar for a long time for a rider of his age. By the time he was 17, DiSalvo already had an impressive racing resume. This racing phenom was an ...

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (March 29, 2004) -- Jason DiSalvo, 20, of Stafford, N.Y., has been on the racing radar for a long time for a rider of his age. By the time he was 17, DiSalvo already had an impressive racing resume. This racing phenom was an experienced AMA amateur flat track racer; winner of the esteemed AMA Horizon Award for being the top amateur road racer in the country; a rider with important European and World Championship races under his belt; and a winner of an AMA Superstock Series race in 2002. Just a few weeks ago DiSalvo took the biggest win yet of his young career when he came out the victor in the thrilling Daytona Supersport final.

Now DiSalvo finds himself atop the point standings in the 2004 Pro Honda Oils Supersport as the series heads to round two at the Yamaha Superbike Challenge at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on April 2-4.

DiSalvo was victorious in the opening round at Daytona International Speedway in early March, coming out on top of another classic drafting battle that saw the top six riders finish within two-tenths of a second. DiSalvo and Roger Lee Hayden actually rubbed fairings as the two crossed the finish line at Daytona. It marked DiSalvo's first win in AMA Supersport and gave Yamaha its first Daytona Supersport victory in 14 years. In addition DiSalvo set a Daytona Supersport track record en route to winning the pole for the race.

"It feels great to get my first Supersport win," DiSalvo said. "I'm looking forward to Fontana. With my qualifying record, that was one lap. I needed 15 fast laps to win it. Now I need 10 more good races to have a great season."

Yamaha, which won the AMA Supersport Championship last year with Jamie Hacking, looks to be the manufacturer to beat again this season. Fully half of the top-10 riders coming into Fontana are Yamaha mounted. Defending champ and Fontana Supersport winner Hacking is ranked fifth. He'll be looking to become the first repeat winner in the class at Fontana. Other Yamaha riders in the top 10 include another young gun Aaron Gobert, and veterans Michael Barnes and Damon Buckmaster. Barnes' run in the lead group at Daytona was especially impressive. Riding a Prieto Racing Yamaha, he was the only non-factory rider in the top 10.

Kawasaki also looks strong in Supersport this year. Roger Lee Hayden came within a wheel length of beating DiSalvo at Daytona and his older brother and teammate Tommy was right there as well. Roger Lee hopes to quickly follow DiSalvo and break through to earn his first AMA Supersport win at Fontana. Brother Tommy is already the sixth-ranked AMA Supersport rider all-time, so a victory for him at Fontana would come as no surprise. Attack Kawasaki's Tony Meiring could also be a factor.

Suzuki appears to have an uphill battle coming out of Daytona. The top Suzuki finisher at Daytona was 2002 AMA Supersport champ Aaron Yates, who took seventh. However, Yates is serving a one-event suspension and will miss the Supersport race as well as both rounds of the Superbike double-header at Fontana. That leaves ninth-place Daytona finisher Steve Rapp, of Valvoline EMGO Suzuki, the leading Suzuki rider coming into California Speedway. Yoshimura Suzuki's Ben Spies suffered a mechanical problem with his bike at Daytona and comes into Fontana with no points.

The California Speedway Supersport final will be televised on SPEED Channel on Tuesday, April 6 at 2 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.

-ama-

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Series AMA
Drivers Tony Meiring , Aaron Yates , Damon Buckmaster , Roger Lee Hayden , Ben Spies , Aaron Gobert , Michael Barnes