The stage has been set. Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin
completed the double at Road Atlanta Sunday, snatching the championship points lead away from defending champion Ben Spies
and setting up a winner-take-all showdown in two weeks at Laguna Seca.
Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin has been smokin' the competition for the last six races straight, completing the double at Road Atlanta and putting himself in position to win his seventh AMA Superbike title.
Mladin grabbed the holeshot with rival Spies hot off his rear and the two separated from the pack after Lap 1. The Aussie laid down a couple of laps in the 1:20.7-range and continued to dissect Road Atlanta with surgical precision while pulling away from Spies for the victory.
It was Mladin's twelfth win this year, a new AMA Superbike
single season record. It also gives him a share of the record for most consecutive victories at six in a row, a distinction he now holds with Spies and Miguel Duhamel
. Most importantly, it gives him a three point lead over Spies as the season heads to the finale at Laguna Seca.
"I guess we got that championship lead you guys have been talking about," Mladin said with a grin.
Spies tried to keep pace with the front-running Mladin, laying down lap times consistently around 1:21 - 1:22, but Mladin never gave the young Texan an opportunity to gain ground. Spies hasn't seen the checkers since Laguna, and if he wants to retain his crown, he will need to once again be first in Monterey.
"We'll come back. He's going to be racing hard but we're going to be racing hard too, so it's going to be interesting," Spies said.
Monster Energy Kawaski's Jamie Hacking moved up the field from seventh place to grab the last spot on the podium. Hacking jostled with American Honda's Jake Zemke for a few laps until finally moving past him on Lap 12. Hacking quickly distanced himself from the pack and ran unchallenged the rest of the way for his second consecutive third place finish.
Zemke shot out into third place early in the race and ran strong for the first two-thirds of the race but couldn't finish once Hacking put the heat on him. He went back and forth with the Kawasaki rider, passing him on Lap 10, only to have Hack return the favor two laps later.
Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates and Monster Energy Kawasaki's Roger Hayden would eventually track Zemke down as well. Yates and the American Honda rider played cat-and-mouse on Lap 17, but Yates and his Suzuki eventually prevailed and crossed the line in fourth place.
Hayden then dueled with Zemke on the last lap, with Hayden's ZX-10R squeaking by and crossing the line 0.116 seconds ahead of Zemke for fifth place. Zemke's efforts earned him a sixth-place finish.
Yoshimura Suzuki's Tommy Hayden waged his own war against a spirited Corona Extra Honda's James Ellison. Ellison was on Hayden's tail as late as Lap 17 until Hayden was able to muster enough power from his GSX-R1000 to hold him off. Ellison's run helped sooth the wounds of yesterday's DNF.
Jordan Suzuki's second rider, Jake Holden, finished ninth, and Yamaha's Eric Bostrom rounded out the top ten. E-Boz was in fourth place until Lap 4 where he ran off the course after carrying too much speed into Turn 10 and dropped back to eleventh. Fortunately, he straightened up in the grassy infield and avoided spilling and was able to finish the race.
The AMA Superbike Championship will be held Sept. 15-16 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. One race. One winner. For Superbike fans, it doesn't get much better than this.
AMA Superbike Road Atlanta Race 2 Results
1. Mat Mladin (Suzuki)
2. Ben Spies (Suzuki) +6.794
3. Jaime Hacking (Kawasaki) +27.134
4. Aaron Yates (Suzuki) +30.119
5. Roger Hayen (Kawasaki) +31.691
6. Jake Zemke (Honda) +31.807
7. Tommy Hayden(Suzuki) + 38.730
8. James Ellison (Honda) +42.819
9. Jake Holden (Suzuki) +53.085
10. Eric Bostrom (Yamaha) +58.976
Championship Point Leaders
1. Mladin, 618
2. Spies, 615
3. Zemke, 441
4. Yates, 436
5. T. Hayden, 429
Fresh off defending his Formula Xtreme championship title yesterday, Erion Honda's Josh Hayes proved he's got more left in the tank as he won a thrilling four-man skirmish in the Supersport class. Hayes and Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jamie Hacking staged a classic battle, exchanging passes numerous times in a true supersport shootout. Hayes finally moved ahead to stay on the final lap while passing a lapped rider on Turn 12. His maneuver gave him a little breathing room over Hacking, enough for a 1.021-second victory. It was Hayes fourth Supersport win this season.
"I tell you, that was such a fun race. I was really having a good time racing with Jamie. I've been saying for a long time I wanted a heads-up race with Jamie and that was a pretty good one for me. I had some advantages -- what can I say? I'm on a Honda. And that bike is just so, so good," Hayes said.
Hacking had to ward off the charge of Team M4 EMGO's Martin Cardenas in the last lap to hold onto second. Cardenas challenged Hacking in Turn 1 for the number two position, but Hacking had enough left in his ZX-6R to dispense of the threat.
Monster Energy Kawasaki's Roger Hayden also engaged in the melee up front, moving up on the lead pack while they maneuvered through passed riders. Hayden crept up on Cardenas as he battled Hacking and snuck by the Colombian rider to claim third place.
Graves Yamaha's Josh Herrin won the other four-rider battle for the final spot in the top five. Herrin beat MPT Racing's Blake Young by 0.143 seconds, Attack Kawasaki' Steve Rapp by 0.314 seconds, and Topline Printing's Chris Peris by 0.852 seconds.
Three riders have a chance to take the title home as we head into the last race of the season at Laguna Seca. Hayden still has an 11 point lead on Hacking, while Hayes sits at 13 back. But when the flag drops in two weeks, it'll be a free-for-all in the dash for the checkers and the title.
AMA Supersport Road Atlanta Sunday Results
1. Josh Hayes (Honda)
2. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki) +1.021
3. Roger Hayden (Kawasaki) +1.164
4. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki) +1.298
5. Josh Herrin (Yamaha) +8.016
6. Blake Young (Suzuki) +8.159
7. Steve Rapp (Kawasaki) +8.330
8. Chris Peris (Yamaha) +8.868
9. Cory West (Yamaha) +11.971
10. Michael Beck (Suzuki) +14.144
AMA Superstock Championship Points
1. R. Hayden 271
2. Hacking 262
3. J. Hayes 260
4. S. Rapp 226
5. T. Hayden 193
Ben Spies' win Sunday at Road Atlanta was the seventh notch on his belt in eight tries in the Superstock class this season. The Yoshimura Suzuki-riders' dominance of the class was rewarded with the Superstock crown.
Spies had to work harder in his wire-to-wire win than in prior run-away victories. Graves Yamaha's Ben Bostrom hounded Spies in the first half of the race, then Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates took over the chasing honors during the second half of the contest. The Georgian-native excited the home crowd when he looked to pass Spies, who was slowed by lapped riders. Yates was obstructed by the same pack and collided into the back of one of the lappers, crashing out of a possible victory.
Bostrom took advantage of Yates' misfortune to finish in second place. The Graves Yamaha rider is second in championship points as well, but has no chance of catching Spies.
Team M4 EMGO Suzuki's Geoff May, who trailed Yates and Bostrom throughout most of the contest, captured the final spot on the podium when Yates went down with just a lap-and-a-half to go.
The season wraps up in two weeks at Laguna Seca.
AMA Superstock Road Atlanta Results:
1. Ben Spies (Suzuki)
2. Ben Bostrom (Yamaha) +3.192
3. Geoff May (Suzuki) +5.079
4. Jake Holden (Suzuki) +8.526
5. Jamie Stauffer (Yamaha) +15.328
Superstock Point Standings
1. Spies 292
2. B. Bostrom 235
3. A. Yates 219