SPIES BACK ON TOP AS RIVETING AMA SUPERBIKE BATTLE ROARS INTO UTAH PICKERINGTON, Ohio (June 15, 2007) -- Ben Spies is one tough hombre. The defending AMA Superbike Champion crashed in warm-ups for a race earlier this month in Elkhart Lake, Wis....
SPIES BACK ON TOP AS RIVETING AMA SUPERBIKE BATTLE ROARS INTO UTAH
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (June 15, 2007) -- Ben Spies is one tough hombre. The defending AMA Superbike Champion crashed in warm-ups for a race earlier this month in Elkhart Lake, Wis. He was bruised and battered, lost to archrival and Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Mat Mladin, and dropped to second in the series standings for the first time this year. The next day in the second round of the Wisconsin doubleheader Spies could hardly walk and had to be helped to his bike. Yet in spite of his obvious pain, Spies rode a brilliant race in the rain and won convincingly to take back the championship lead. Now the series comes to ultra-fast Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, and Spies hopes he can find a way to hold on to his thin series lead at the Honda Summit of Speed doubleheader round on June 22-24.
This is the second visit to the beautiful Miller Motorsports Park for the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited. Last year in the inaugural AMA event at the track Honda's Jake Zemke and Spies traded wins.
Miller is round 10 and 11 of the series and kicks off the second half of the 19-race AMA Superbike Championship. While Spies, of Longview, Texas, holds a two-point lead over six-time AMA Superbike Champion Mladin, it's been Mladin who has scored six wins to Spies' three. Spies said he realizes it's time to put it all on the line if he is to defend his title.
"It's good that I have a couple weeks off to heal from this and can do a little bit of training," Spies said. "Going to Miller it's about halfway in the season and it's time to put it out there. We're going to have to win races to win the championship and we see that. We've just got to take it to another level and not ride so conservatively. We know what we've got to do and we can do it. We have to go the rest of the season without making any mistakes. It's going to be a really good championship and hopefully we can win it, but if not, we're just going to give 100 percent everywhere and see what happens."
Mladin, who held the series lead for about 24 hours in Wisconsin, conveyed that the Sunday rain race at Road America was nothing more that a temporary reprieve for the rest of the series competitors.
"They just rode better than me today," Mladin said of Spies and Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jamie Hacking, who finished second in the rain. "I saw a couple of things that I can improve on. Certainly one area that I'm lacking in the rain. But then again, some of the things that I do that hurt me in the rain, doesn't hurt me in the dry. The unfortunate thing for people that are good in the rain is most days are sunny."
It's almost certain to be sunny and warm in the desert setting of Tooele, Utah, for the upcoming races and Mladin fully expects to be back on top of the podium.
While the Suzuki GSX-R1000s of Spies and Mladin have dominated the championship this season, third ranked Jake Zemke can take comfort in knowing that he is returning to a track where he took victory last year.
"I'm looking forward to getting back to Utah," Zemke said. "Obviously we had some good success there last year and our team has been making solid progress with the bike. Ben and Mat have stepped up their game this year, but we hope to close the gap and give them a run for their money at Miller."
Zemke's Honda teammate Miguel Duhamel suffered a tough crash in the rain at Road America and dropped from third to fifth in the standings. Duhamel would love to break the Suzuki stranglehold on the series and start making his way back up the points ladder.
Tommy Hayden is the third Yoshimura Suzuki rider in the series and has been mostly overshadowed by teammates Spies and Mladin. At Road America the eldest of the famous racing Hayden brothers scored his first podium of the year. He hopes to build on that success in Utah and emerge as a race contender.
Jordan Motorsports Suzuki's Aaron Yates has flirted with the Superbike podium several times this season. The Georgian veteran is aiming to give the team owned by basketball legend Michael Jordan, its first AMA Superbike podium finish (top three) at Miller.
Fans of Italian exotica should visit Miller Motorsports Park to see the dazzling Ferracci MV Agusta Superbikes ridden by Matt Lynn and Luca Scassa.
Both rounds of the AMA Superbike doubleheader from Miller Motorsports Park will air on SPEED. Saturday's race will be shown at 11:00 am Eastern on Sunday, June 24. Sunday's race will air live at 5:00 pm Eastern.
Tickets are available for the Honda Summit of Speed via Ticketmaster. Visit www.millermotorsports.com for additional ticket and schedule information.