Road Atlanta: Round 11 doubleheader preview

Suzuki Superbike Showdown presented by Rockstar PICKERINGTON, Ohio - The AMA Superbike Championship heads to Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia on August 29-31 for the penultimate round of the 2008 season. The weekend could very well have the...

Suzuki Superbike Showdown presented by Rockstar

PICKERINGTON, Ohio - The AMA Superbike Championship heads to Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia on August 29-31 for the penultimate round of the 2008 season. The weekend could very well have the feel of a finale, due to the strong likelihood of one or more title races being decided a round early.

The AMA Superbikes first challenged Road Atlanta in June of 1980, where the legendary Eddie Lawson claimed the first win at the circuit. However, the venue didn't become a mainstay on the calendar until 1998 when it kicked off the current trend of weekend Superbike doubleheaders.


Post-Race Drama Following VIR
While Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Mat Mladin dominated on the track at VIRginia International Raceway, crossing the finish line first for the fifth and sixth consecutive races, the drama didn't end there.

Following the post-race technical inspection, Mladin's crankshaft was deemed illegal and he was disqualified, stripping him of two victories.

The six-time AMA Superbike champ has appealed the decision, the final outcome of which could play an extremely important role in series history. If denied, the Australian will not be in contention to claim a record-setting eight AMA Superbike race wins in a row at Road Atlanta, and even more importantly, it will pave the way for his teammate, Ben Spies, to clinch his third-straight AMA Superbike title with a safe ride on Saturday.

The Numbers
If Mladin's DQ stands, Spies needs just 12 points -- a 19th-place effort -- to lock up the crown. Should he manage that, he'll join Reg Pridmore, Fred Merkel, and Mladin as the only riders in AMA Superbike history to win three consecutive titles.

Even if Mladin's appeal is successful, Spies will still be solidly in control, although his road to the throne won't be quite as simple. He'd need to continue finishing in the top two in the season's final three races to assure him a third championship.

Road Matlanta
While Mladin has done his fair share of winning at just about every circuit the series has visited during his illustrious career, he has been particularly dominant at Road Atlanta. The former Cagiva 500GP pilot has won eight of the last nine Superbike races at the venue and 11 in all.

Suzuki has won the most recent ten AMA Superbike races at Road Atlanta.

However, two-time defending champion Spies has yet to claim a Superbike victory at the circuit -- a track he's logged many miles on over his career. Despite his strong title position, Spies claims he'll be out to change that this weekend. If he clinches the championship on Saturday, he'd be free to go all out on Sunday in his quest for the win.

After the Fact Double Podium
Yamaha Factory Racing's Eric Bostrom enjoyed his strongest outing of the season at VIR, crossing the line in fourth both times out. Those results got even stronger following the decision to disqualify Mladin, elevating the Californian's finishes to a pair of thirds, his first two (podium-less) podiums of the year on the YZF-R1 Superbike.


Another Shot at an Early Title
Graves Motorsports Yamaha's Ben Bostrom has been the leading player in the Pro Honda Oils Supersport title race all season long.

If he can score his seventh win of the season -- and do so in perfect fashion as he's done three times already this season -- Bostrom will put the pressure on second-ranked Erion Honda's Jake Zemke, who currently trails the Californian by 28 points (299-271). Zemke would need to finish on the podium in that case, otherwise Bostrom would already be celebrating his championship season by the time the series traveled back to one of his best tracks, Laguna Seca, for the season finale.

The Return of Hayes
While Bostrom and Zemke have been the headliners much of the season, Erion Honda's Josh Hayes reminded everyone why he won more races than any rider in the class last year, dominating the Supersport race at VIR. Another outing like that from the Mississippian could help keep his teammate in the points race for another weekend.

Herrin Back on the Box
Meanwhile, Bostrom may get some help of his own, as teammate Josh Herrin showed a return to form at VIR as well. The rising star finished third, his first podium since opening the year with three podium results, including a win at Barber Motorsports Park.


On the Verge
While Zemke is just hoping to stay alive in Supersport, he's on the verge of his taking the Formula Xtreme title.

The Californian has finished either first or second in the past seven of eight FX races. One more runner-up result is all it would take to push the championship out of the reach of the second-ranked rider, Attack Kawasaki's Steve Rapp.

If Zemke pulls it off, the title will be a long-time in the making; He's a five-time AMA championship runner-up looking for his first championship.

Two in a Row
After fighting with confidence issues following his stripped Daytona 200 win, Hayes looks to be fully back up to speed. At VIR Hayes took his second-straight Formula Xtreme win, the first half of his VIR 600cc sweep.

And while Hayes was the first to admit that his Mid-Ohio win involved a fair bit of luck with the red flag coming out just in time to seal his first victory of the season, the two-time defending class champion registered a lopsided win at VIR.

Team M4 EMGO Suzuki's Martin Cardenas also picked up a second-straight podium finish at VIR, once again placing third behind the two Erion Honda Racing stars.


Can Yates Celebrate Title with Home Fans?
Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates currently heads the AMA Superstock race over Corona Honda's Jake Holden 278-242, which means if the Milledgeville, Georgia resident manages to claim his third Superstock win in a row and his fifth on the season, he'll clinch his third Superstock title in front of the home crowd at Road Atlanta.

Interestingly, while Yates has earned two AMA Superbike race wins at Road Atlanta none of his 17 career Superstock victories have come at the circuit.

May Also Looking to Impress at Home
Yates' biggest challenge could come from teammate Geoff May, who hails from nearby Gainesville, Georgia. May will be out for redemption following a missed opportunity at the podium at VIR when he mistook Yates' pitboard for his own and eased up with a lap still remaining.


The weekend's AMA Superbike class action will air on SPEED. The AMA Superbike doubleheader will air on Sunday, August 31, with the Saturday's race airing at 11:00 a.m. Eastern and Sunday's airing same-day delay at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

The Supersport, Formula Xtreme, and Superstock races will air on SPEED on Tuesday, September 2, with the Supersport race airing at noon Eastern, followed immediately by the Formula Xtreme and Superstock races at 1:00 p.m.


Advance Tickets for the Suzuki Superbike Showdown presented by Rockstar may be purchased from the Road Atlanta web site at or by calling the ticket office at 770.967.6143 or 1.800.849.RACE.

-credit: ama

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About this article
Series AMA
Drivers Steve Rapp , Joshua Hayes , Geoff May , Aaron Yates , Eric Bostrom , Jake Zemke , Eddie Lawson , Jake Holden , Josh Herrin , Fred Merkel , Ben Bostrom , Martin Cardenas Ochoa
Teams Yamaha Factory Racing