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Laguna Seca: Formula Xtreme, Superstock preview

Duhamel and Zemke locked in AMA Formula Xtreme Series title tussle PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 7, 2004) -- Honda looks to be a shoo-in to win the 2004 Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series. The top three riders in the series standings are ...

Duhamel and Zemke locked in AMA Formula Xtreme Series title tussle

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 7, 2004) -- Honda looks to be a shoo-in to win the 2004 Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series. The top three riders in the series standings are Honda mounted. And while the Big H is almost certain to win back the Formula Xtreme title after four years, it's unclear at this point which of the Red Riders will lift the No. 1 plate at the end of the year. The series will make stop number eight of 11 at Monterey, California's Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday, July 10. Factory Honda rider Miguel Duhamel leads a tight points battle over Erion Honda's Jake Zemke. The Formula Xtreme race is part of the Honda Superbike Classic, a weekend full of AMA and World Championship racing.

Duhamel has taken to Formula Xtreme racing like it was designed with him in mind. With his vast experience in AMA Superbike and Supersport racing (he leads both categories in all-time wins) it's no wonder that the Montreal native feels at home on his Honda CBR600RR-based Formula Xtreme bike, which is in many ways, a mini-superbike. Duhamel has won five of the seven Formula Xtreme races. If he wins at Laguna Seca he will be tied for fifth on the all-time Formula Xtreme wins list with none other than Zemke.

Zemke is a past Formula Xtreme winner at Laguna Seca. He's earned two wins in the class so far and has finished runner-up to Duhamel at four rounds. Zemke feels his Erion Honda is getting better each race. "Miguel has some motor on us," Zemke says of Duhamel's factory bike. "The boys worked pretty hard, though, and they definitely closed the gap on him. Going to Laguna we'll see if we can't close up that points gap a little bit."

The rest of the Formula Xtreme field is trying to pick up some glory by at least getting on the podium along side Duhamel and Zemke. Young Alex Gobert is third in the standings. The up-and-coming Australian has finished on the podium three times on his Erion Honda. Vincent Haskovec is another rider asserting himself in the series. Haskovec surprised both Duhamel and Zemke by chasing them down mid-race on his Valvoline EMGO Suzuki at the last round in Brainerd, Minn. He is ranked fourth in the standings.

While Gobert and Haskovec are the primary riders who could take advantage of a Duhamel or Zemke mistake at Laguna Seca, other riders in the series have the experience to have a successful outing in Monterey. A trio of AMA racing veterans seems most likely to make some noise this Saturday. Ohioan Larry Pegram is the top Yamaha rider in the series, Michael Barnes entered the series mid-season and has already worked himself into the top 10 on the Buell XB9R Firebolt, and Jason Pridmore is a former Formula Xtreme champion. All three have the potential to surprise the Formula Xtreme top runners.

Honda's Ben Bostrom is slated to make a special Formula Xtreme appearance at Laguna Seca. Bostrom finished a close runner-up to Duhamel at the season opener in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Hacking's injury opens the door in AMA Superstock

A crash last week while testing in Ohio cost AMA Repsol Superstock Series leader Jamie Hacking a trip to the operating table to have his collarbone pinned. The Graves Yamaha ace bravely plans on trying to ride at the upcoming round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but his injury could present an opportunity for the rest of the Superstock field to close the points gap on the leader.

If Hacking holds on to win this year's Superstock title it will show the true determination the Denver, North Carolina resident has inside. Already this year Hacking appeared to be pulling away in the points chase, but suffered a crash at a round in early June in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Hacking didn't give up. He picked up his battered Yamaha R1 and re-entered the race and even though he lost the series lead, he scored seven valuable championship points by finishing the race. The resilient Hacking came back to win the last round in Brainerd, Minn., and gained back the points lead from Graves Yamaha teammate Aaron Gobert. Now Hacking will come to Laguna nursing a sore shoulder and a 14-point lead with four races remaining.

The hottest rider coming into the AMA Superstock race is Attack Kawasaki's Josh Hayes. Hayes came out of nowhere to score consecutive runner-up finishes in the last two rounds. The timing seems right for Hayes to put his ZX-10R atop the rostrum. He is the defending winner of the Laguna Seca Superstock race.

Kawasaki's Tommy Hayden and Yoshimura Suzuki's Ben Spies are also riders to watch this weekend. Both have had success at Laguna Seca in the past and each have a victory in Superstock this year.

The Laguna Seca Formula Xtreme and Superstock races will be shown on SPEED Channel on Sunday, July 11, starting at 2 p.m. Eastern.

For ticket info contact Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at (800) 327-SECA or visit www.laguna-seca.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.

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Series AMA
Drivers Larry Pegram , Miguel Duhamel , Tommy Hayden , Jamie Hacking , Jake Zemke , Ben Spies , Vincent Haskovec , Aaron Gobert , Jason Pridmore , Michael Barnes , Ben Bostrom , Josh Hayes