PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 17, 2003) -- The final AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship race of the season at Barber Motorsports Park on Sept. 19-21, will see the crowning of four champions. The closest of the title races this year has been...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 17, 2003) -- The final AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship race of the season at Barber Motorsports Park on Sept. 19-21, will see the crowning of four champions. The closest of the title races this year has been the Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock Series. Attack Suzuki's Josh Hayes narrowly leads Kawasaki's Tommy Hayden by just 8 points. Hooters Suzuki's Vincent Haskovec, third in the series rankings, still has an outside shot at the title. In the Lockhart-Phillips Formula Xtreme Series five-race winner Ben Spies has a commanding 30-point lead and needs only to finish 23rd or better to clinch his first AMA Pro Racing Championship. Mat Mladin needs only 38 points from the combined Superbike doubleheader to clinch the Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship title. While Rich Oliver already has the MBNA 250 Grand Prix title secured all eyes will be on the longtime racing veteran to see if he can complete a perfect undefeated season in that series.
Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock Series
After opening the Genuine Suzuki Accessories Superstock season with an 11th and 10th-place finish in the first two rounds, no one considered Attack Suzuki's Josh Hayes a serious contender for the title. However, a second-place result at Road Atlanta made some sit up and take notice of Hayes. Then the rider from Gulfport, Miss., put together a solid run of five-straight podium finishes, including wins at Monterey, Calif., and Lexington, Ohio, which catapulted him to the top of the standings. Conversely Kawasaki's Tommy Hayden looked to be a shoo-in for the series title after winning the opening three rounds of the series aboard a specially built for Superstock ZX636. But then a mid-season slump that saw Hayden miss the podium in four straight races cost the Kentuckian the series lead.
The top two riders had a great showdown last month at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va. Hayden held on to win his fourth Superstock race of the year over Hayes, but Hayes cited caution as part of his explanation of why he didn't make a strong move for the lead late in the Virginia race. "I had to be smart at VIR and come out of there with the points lead," Hayes said of the VIR race. "There are still 17 laps to go in this championship. When we get to Barber it will be a different story and I'll take a few more chances to make sure I win the series."
Hayden, the oldest of the three racing Hayden brothers, is trying to become the first rider to win the AMA Superstock Series on a machine with less than 750cc engine displacement. In addition to trying to win his first AMA Pro Championship, Hayden is hoping to give Kawasaki its first Superstock title (in past years known as the 750 Supersport) since Scott Russell won the series in 1992. Suzuki wants to prevent that from happening.
Still in the AMA Superstock Championship picture is Czech native Haskovec. The Hooters Suzuki rider is a first-time winner in the series this season and has become a fan favorite for his sheer enthusiasm for racing.
Lockhart-Phillips Formula Xtreme Series
This series is Ben Spies' to win or lose. Since moving to the factory Yoshimura Suzuki team this year Spies has blossomed into the leading up-and-coming rider in AMA road racing. After going through a bout of what he called overconfidence mid-season, Spies has come back strong with three straight Formula Xtreme victories. Now only Graves Yamaha's Damon Buckmaster has what could be best described as a long-shot at winning the title he's tried so hard to get for three years. Unless Spies fails to finish it appears that Buckmaster will once again walk away thinking "what if". Buckmaster, who narrowly lost the Formula Xtreme title in 2001 and 2002, led the series for much of this season before Spies made his rally. One consolation for Buckmaster, should he win at Barber, will be the satisfaction that he would tie Kurtis Roberts and Eric Bostrom atop the all-time AMA Formula Xtreme wins list.
MBNA 250 Grand Prix Series
The curtain comes down on the longest running AMA road racing series when the MBNA 250 Grand Prix Series finale runs at Barber on Sept. 21. It would be fitting for Rich Oliver to close the series with a victory. The 42-year-old Californian, the all-time wins leader in AMA 250GP history, announced that this would be his final race. Oliver will be the last champion of a series that includes an illustrious list of past champions such as Randy Mamola, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, John Kocinski and Jimmy Filice just to name a few. If Oliver wins Sunday it would mark his third perfect season in MBNA 250 Grand Prix.
Live coverage of the 250GP race begins at 2 p.m. Eastern, Sunday, Sept. 21, on Speed. The Formula Xtreme finale will be shown at 5 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 30. For additional information on this weekend's doubleheader contact Barber Motorsports Park at (205) 967-4745 or visit www.barbermotorsports.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 Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship.
About AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the AMA Supercross Series, the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship, the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship, the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship and the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship. Nearly 2 million race fans attended AMA Pro Racing events during the 2002 season. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.