Mladin Claims Win ...
Mladin Claims Win #70
While Mat Mladin delivered Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki their 40th consecutive win in unconventional fashion on Saturday at Mid-Ohio, his 70th career AMA Superbike victory that came a day later was strictly by the books.
Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jamie Hacking bulled his way into the lead off the stripe but was overhauled by double champ Ben Spies entering Turn 6 for the first time. Spies' time at the front would only last a lap-and-a-half, however, as Mladin dove underneath him as they swung through the Carousel to conclude the second lap.
At that point Mladin put his head down and continually built up what became an unassailable advantage en route to his fourth win in succession -- his 10th all-time at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
"It was a good race for us," Mladin commented. "We got a decent start and the guys got out there. I didn't want to let them get in a rhythm so I pushed past as quick as I could and wanted to set my pace. We made a couple changes this morning and I realized I had a bike that was capable of going a little bit quicker than yesterday so I wanted to get out there and get the most out of it while I could. I opened up a gap and was able to hold on at the end."
Spies came home a clear second, just over six seconds behind his rival. While the Texan will obviously be less than satisfied to see the Australian responding to his record-breaking win streak with a run of his own, he has to be pleased to have minimized the damage this weekend, considering his recent appendix surgery, by taking the pole and a pair of seconds.
"We got a better start than yesterday and got into the lead off the back straightaway," Spies remarked. "I just tried to go as quick as I could and then Mat came by and I got in behind him. I was riding as hard as I could and I wasn't losing huge, but a tenth a lap, two tenths a lap. I kind of made a small mistake and then I just tried to run a more comfortable pace. I just didn't have those two or three tenths a lap. That's pretty much it."
Hacking was easily the third fastest man on the track today. Unfortunately for the North Carolina resident, he couldn't come anywhere near matching the pace of the Suzukis on this day, eventually taking his second third-place finish of the weekend over 20 seconds behind the victor.
The third was Hacking's eighth podium result of 2008.
He said, "Well, I got a great start -- that was pretty much the highlight of my race. I practiced probably 40 or so starts when we came here to test and it's definitely paid off, so we've got one thing in our bag. We're able to get up front and put some sort of battle in.
"Today we made a few changes in the rear of the bike and I don't want to say that they were in the wrong direction. I just don't think they were perfect, but I don't think it was any worse than yesterday. Pretty much, I was lonely out there, I was basically racing the fourth-place guy behind me, making sure I kept my splits on him."
American Honda's Neil Hodgson survived a pair of assaults by Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates to claim fourth. On lap 11 Yates attempted to sweep past entering 6 but got in too deep and had to regroup from a couple seconds back. He finally closed back in on the Briton's tail by lap 18 only to be violently thrown from his GSX-R1000 and out of the contest.
Third works Suzuki pilot Tommy Hayden came home in fifth, just ahead of Hodgson's teammate, Miguel DuHamel.
Yamaha USA's Jason DiSalvo finished in seventh, taking over the spot when his teammate, Eric Bostrom, was eliminated from the race, joining stars Yates and Roger Hayden as non-finishers on the day.
Yates' teammate, Geoff May, took his Superstock-spec machine to eighth, followed by Team ESP's Chris Peris and Celtic Racing's visiting CEV runner, Kenny Noyes.
Mladin double weekend has allowed him to close the gap to Spies by nine points, making the difference 476-449 with five races remaining on the 2008 AMA Superbike slate. The next AMA Superbike race will take place in two weeks time at Virginia International Raceway on August 15-17.