Spies comes from behind for Sunday triumph For the first time in eight races, defending (and provisional) AMA Superbike champion Ben Spies crossed the finish line first thanks to a dramatic come-from-behind victory over his Rockstar Makita ...
Spies comes from behind for Sunday triumph
For the first time in eight races, defending (and provisional) AMA Superbike champion Ben Spies crossed the finish line first thanks to a dramatic come-from-behind victory over his Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki teammate, Mat Mladin, on Sunday at Road Atlanta.
Yesterday's hope for a real brawl at the front faded early on when Spies suffered a nightmarish start and was later forced in for a ride-through penalty. Sunday's race didn't appear to be shaping up to be any less one-sided, however, as Mladin quickly ripped past Spies and early leader Tommy Hayden to take control of first and he went about assembling an advantage at the front.
Mladin was over three-and-a-half seconds up on Spies at half distance (with nearly ten seconds back to Hayden, who himself enjoyed a big gap over fourth) when the race started to turn.
The six-time champ started coming back to the reigning champ by as much as a second per lap and by lap 19 the Texan was poised to strike. Running down the back straight, Mladin took a look back to see how close his rival had drawn only to get an eyeful of the #1 plate as Spies powering by.
Both men pulled identical wheelies and wobbles as they crested the hill and Spies took control of the contest. He slowly eked away at that point before Mladin conceded the race, providing Spies with an eventual 7.107-second margin of victory.
Along with making a statement, the win prevents Mladin from stealing away Spies' consecutive win streak mark. Even if the Aussie ultimately wins his appeal, he'll be left with a record of seven in a row, tying but not erasing the standard Spies established earlier this season.
Hayden finished a lonely third some 25 seconds off the win. After picking up four podiums in the season's opening five races before being injured in Fontana, CA, the Kentuckian has strung together four straight top threes in a late-season flourish.
Hayden actually led the race's opening lap grabbing yet another holeshot. Interestingly, Hayden is one of the few -- if not the only -- factory Superbike ace who doesn't rely on launch control to aid his starts.
American Honda's Miguel DuHamel held off a charge from Yamaha USA's Jason DiSalvo to finish fourth, while second Yamaha runner Eric Bostrom bounced back from an early mishap to beat DuHamel's teammate, Neil Hodgson, for seventh.
Newly-crowned Superstock winner Aaron Yates out-dueled Corona Honda's Matt Lynn for ninth, while Yates' teammate, Geoff May, rounded out the top ten.
Next up for Spies is his highly-anticipated MotoGP outing at the Indy GP in two weeks, followed by the 2008 AMA Superbike Championship season finale on September 27-28. Spies currently holds an unassailable 620-519 advantage over second-ranked Mladin, which is a still-imposing 610-593 point difference even if Mladin's VIR wins are reinstated.