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Sears Point: Round three preview

Mladin and Duhamel battle for top dog at Kawasaki AMA Superbike Showdown Infineon Raceway hosting AMA Chevrolet Superbike Championship doubleheader PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 21, 2004) -- Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin and Honda's Miguel...

Mladin and Duhamel battle for top dog at Kawasaki AMA Superbike Showdown
Infineon Raceway hosting AMA Chevrolet Superbike Championship doubleheader

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 21, 2004) -- Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin and Honda's Miguel Duhamel will go head-to-head as Infineon Raceway plays host to the top motorcycle road racers in the country, April 30-May 2 for the Kawasaki AMA Superbike Showdown. The weekend, which is presented by Cycle Gear, features rounds four and five of the 18-race AMA Chevrolet Superbike Championship.

The stakes are doubly high between Mladin and Duhamel this weekend. It was at Infineon (then called Sears Point Raceway) in 1998 that Duhamel matched the Motorcycle Hall of Famer Fred Merkel's all-time AMA Superbike wins record. Later that season, Duhamel became the all-time wins leader and held that esteemed record for nearly six years. His record was broken just a few weeks ago when Mat Mladin eclipsed the mark by winning his 27th-career AMA Superbike win at California Speedway.

Duhamel comes into Infineon Raceway as the all-time wins leader at that circuit with four-career AMA Superbike wins on the Sonoma, California track. Duhamel, then riding a Muzzy Kawasaki, won his first race at the track in a last lap thriller over Doug Polen in 1993, but hasn't tasted victory in the Superbike ranks at Sonoma since 1998. He's hoping the new Honda CBR1000RR will work well at the picturesque track and carry him to victory once again.

Mladin is the hottest rider in the series. He's won all three rounds leading up to the Infineon doubleheader and has already established a 24-point lead in the championship points race over Honda's Superbike newcomer Jake Zemke. Duhamel is a close third in the series. Mladin hopes to duplicate the doubleheader sweep at Infineon he earned last year. The Aussie sensation feels the strengths of his Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 plays right into his hand on the twisty 2.32-mile Infineon Raceway.

"Typically a lot of circuits have some decent-length straightaways, which allows the guys with the faster motorcycles to sometimes get involved with a race for the lead," Mladin explains. "At Infineon Raceway you don't need the fastest bike, you need the best setup. You also need to be physically fit because there's no time to rest. Typically, if you get it all right, you can usually win the race by a fair margin. Handling is at a premium."

This weekend will mark the return to the championship of Mladin's Suzuki teammate Aaron Yates. The Georgian gets back to action after serving a one-event suspension after a post-crash incident at Daytona. Yates missed both of the Superbike rounds as well as the Supersport race held at Fontana and is way behind in points. Yates joins Mladin and Duhamel as a former Superbike winner at Infineon Raceway.

Local fans will be rooting for the Bostrom brothers Ben and Eric. The Bostroms grew up in the Bay Area racing on dirt track ovals all across Northern California. Both Bostroms are looking for their first AMA Superbike victory at Infineon.

Eric jumped from 26th to fourth in the standings after a strong weekend at California Speedway on his Ducati Austin 999 earlier this month. Northern California has long been a hotbed of Ducati fans. Bostrom said he feels very appreciated by enthusiast of the Italian brand.

"It was pretty rewarding when we went to Fontana, where I went out and ran my 999 street bike around the track with them," Bostrom said of a Ducati riders group outing. "The enthusiasm from the Ducati fans and the Ducati owners is just unlike anything I'm used to. They are just fanatics. The whole day I was going wide open, and they were really going after it too. They are really into their Ducatis."

Ducati is looking for its first victory at Infineon since local ace Paul Ritter took a pair of upset wins on his privateer Ducati in 1977 and 1978.

Older brother Ben is still trying to find the combination that earned him the AMA Superbike Championship with Honda in 1998. So far the elder Bostrom brother's season has been a big disappointment. His bike broke at Daytona and he crashed out of the first race at California Speedway and was fifth in the second race in Fontana. Those results find Bostrom 20th in the series standings. While the championship may be improbable for Bostrom he would be happy to earn his first win in the series since returning to America from World Superbike last year.

A number of privateer teams are breaking through to earn strong finishes in the championship so far this season. Empire Racing Suzuki rider Lee Acree is the leading rider on a non-factory team coming into this weekend's doubleheader. Acree, a North Carolinian, is a former Superstock winner and current track record holder at Infineon, is ranked fifth in the championship.

The races will be televised on Speed Channel with both rounds being shown back-to-back on Sunday, May 2 starting at 5 p.m. Eastern.

For ticket information on the Kawasaki AMA Superbike Showdown call 800-870-RACE or visit www.infineonraceway.com or www.ticketmaster.com.

<pre> Schedule of Events

Friday, April 30 8:30-9:05 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Practice 9:10-9:40 AMA Repsol Superstock Practice 9:45-10:15 Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets Practice 10:20-11:10 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Practice 12:10-12:45 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Practice 12:50-1:20 AMA Repsol Superstock Practice 1:25-1:55 Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets Practice 2:00-2:50 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Practice 3:00-3:30 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Qualifying Group 1 3:40-4:10 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Qualifying Group 2 4:20-4:50 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Qualifying Group 1 5:00-5:30 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Qualifying Group 2

Saturday, May 1 8:30-9:10 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Practice 9:15-9:45 AMA Repsol Superstock Practice 9:50-10:20 Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets Practice 10:30-11:10 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Qualifying Group 1 11:20-12:00 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Qualifying Group 2 1:00-1:30 AMA Repsol Superstock Qualifying Group 1 1:40-2:10 AMA Repsol Superstock Qualifying Group 2 2:20-2:50 Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets Qualifying Group 1 3:00-3:30 Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets Qualifying Group 2 3:40 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Race 1 (100K-28 laps)

Sunday, May 2 9:00-9:20 AMA Repsol Superstock Practice 9:30-9:50 Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets Practice 10:00-10:20 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Practice 10:30-10:50 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Practice 11:00 AMA Repsol Superstock Race (60k-17 laps) FINAL EVENTS: 1:00 Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship presented by Shoei Helmets (60k-17 laps) 2:00 Chevrolet Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited Race 2 (100k-28 laps) 3:30 Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme (60k-17 laps)

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Series AMA
Drivers Miguel Duhamel , Aaron Yates , Jake Zemke , Fred Merkel