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Road Atlanta: Supersport preview

Roger Lee Hayden closing in on big brother Tommy in AMA Supersport Championship Two straight wins puts youngest Hayden just 13 points out of series lead PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 30, 2004) -- Roger Lee Hayden, the youngest of the three racing...

Roger Lee Hayden closing in on big brother Tommy in AMA Supersport Championship
Two straight wins puts youngest Hayden just 13 points out of series lead

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 30, 2004) -- Roger Lee Hayden, the youngest of the three racing Hayden brothers, has come into his own this season. In his sixth year as a pro he finally earned his first AMA road racing victory in Birmingham, Ala., in May. Since then the 21-year-old Kawasaki rider from Owensboro, Ky, has been on a tear in the Pro Honda Oils Supersport presented by Shoei Championship, winning the last two rounds and has pulled within 13 points of his oldest brother and teammate Tommy with just two races remaining.

While four riders still have a shot at the prestigious Supersport championship, it's the Hayden brothers who are clearly in control. Tommy Hayden took over the series lead at the second round of the championship in April. He pulled out a solid points lead after winning four races in seven rounds. Roger Lee showed as early as May that he would be a rider to contend with after nipping his older brother at the finish line of the Barber Motorsports Park race to take his first win. Last month Roger Lee made his charge. He won the Supersport races at both Laguna Seca and Mid-Ohio to move within sight of the series title.

The story coming into Road Atlanta is that of the brothers both vying for their first AMA road racing championship. For Roger Lee the equation is simple. "I have to win, that's all there is to it," he says. "Tommy's not going to just roll over and let me catch him. I'm going to have to earn as many points possible, including pole and lap leader points, to have a real shot."

If either Tommy or Roger Lee wins the Road Atlanta Supersport race they will follow in the footsteps of middle brother Nicky, who won the race in 1999. Nicky is now racing MotoGP for Honda.

The other two riders who still have an outside chance at the championship are Yoshimura Suzuki's Ben Spies and Yamaha rider Aaron Gobert. Spies is the defending race winner at Road Atlanta and is one of the four riders to have a win in Supersport this year. Gobert put a serious damper in his title hopes after crashing while leading at Laguna Seca in July. Now the Australian native needs a lot of luck to get back in the title hunt.

Defending AMA Supersport champ Jamie Hacking, of Yamaha, joins Spies as the only other former Road Atlanta winner. Injuries forced Hacking to miss the last two rounds of the series and he will not be able to defend his title. However, if the South Carolinian is healthy enough to race at Road Atlanta, one of his favorite circuits, he's certain to be a leading contender.

The Road Atlanta Supersport race is scheduled to be nationally televised on SPEED Channel's Two Wheel Tuesday on Sept. 7 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. For additional information on the AMA Suzuki Superbike Showdown by Makita, call (800) 849-RACE or visit www.roadatlanta.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 Tommy Hayden , Jamie Hacking , Roger Lee Hayden , Ben Spies , Aaron Gobert