AMA

Nicky Hayden wins 2002 championship

Hayden becomes youngest AMA Superbike Champion. PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Nicky Hayden clinched the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship Saturday at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va. Hayden, who turned 21 on July 30, becomes the...

Hayden becomes youngest AMA Superbike Champion.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Nicky Hayden clinched the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship Saturday at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va. Hayden, who turned 21 on July 30, becomes the youngest champion in the 27-year history of AMA Superbike. The Honda rider from Owensboro, Ky., wrapped up the championship by winning his ninth race of the year in the first round of the doubleheader Superbike weekend at VIR.

Eric Bostrom, who was the only rider who had a chance to catch Hayden in the championship, crashed his Kawasaki in Saturday's race while leading on the ninth lap. Bostrom was unhurt in the incident. Hayden crashed out of Sunday's race, won by Bostrom, but it didn't matter in terms of the championship Hayden had already secured.

Hayden began the year with a victory at the prestigious Daytona 200 in March. He went on to win a total of nine races in the 16-round series, including victories at California Speedway, Sears Point and Road Atlanta (where he swept the doubleheaders), Brainerd, Mid-Ohio and VIR. His nine victories marked the highest number of wins in a single season since Fred Merkel won 10 AMA Superbike races in 1984. Merkel was the previous youngest Superbike champion -- the Californian was 22 when he won his first of three titles in 1984. Hayden moved from 13th at the end of last season to third on the all-time AMA Superbike wins list with a career total of 17 victories. Only Honda teammate Miguel Duhamel, with 25, and former three-time champ Merkel, with 20, have more career AMA Superbike wins.

Along the way Hayden earned four pole positions and scored the lap leader point in seven events.

"I'm just so happy to win this title," said Hayden, who turned pro in 1997. "People don't realize the kind of work that goes into winning this championship. I knew I didn't necessarily have to win today, but all the others had their problems. I'll take it that's for sure. It's a good way to win the title." Hayden's championship gives Honda its eighth AMA Superbike title. Honda also won the AMA Superbike Manufacturers Championship for the sixth time.

For immediate post-race results, points, and live transponder scoring from each race in the championship, log on to amaproracing.com's Superbike Mediacenter, the official home of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship.

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Series AMA
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Miguel Duhamel , Eric Bostrom , Fred Merkel