won the shortened Saturday superbike race over Miguel Duhamel
, bringing the Yoshimura Suzuki rider ever closer to his fifth AMA Superbike
Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin stormed to his seventh victory of 2004 during the first of two races at Road Atlanta. "It was a good win," Mladin said after beating Duhamel to the flag by 0.400 seconds. "It was a hard race today but I think if Suzuki hadn't done their homework it wouldn't be possible today."
Seven laps into the race, Attack Kawasaki's Josh Hayes highsided his ZX-10R, leaving it stranded in the middle of track spewing out goo. That facilitated the red flag and a complete restart of the event. Hayes was not hurt in the crash.
At the point of the stoppage, Mat Mladin was leading newly crowned Formula Xtreme champ Miguel Duhamel, Aaron Yates and Ben Bostrom while championship hopeful Jake Zemke was off the pace in fifth. Eric Bostrom had already crashed out while making his charge on the first lap so the factory Suzuki and Honda squads were left to battle it out on their own during the second half of the battle.
"I was trying to make a pass and highsided," explained E-Boz. "I'm not sure if I got into the marbles or what, but the rear came all the way around on me. It's a real shame, because the Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin team was going good this weekend. I think we would have been up there in the race. Our times on race tires were consistent.
"I'm in a bit of pain," continued Bostrom. "I'm not sure what we're going to do for tomorrow but I'm going to see Doug Polen's doctor. I have some extra hardware in there from my Laguna Seca crash last year so I want to be careful with the shoulder."
After the restart, Mladin took over the lead from his teammate Aaron Yates and never looked back.
"Qualifying was good for us, it's always great to get that extra point, especially as we put a good lap together," said Mladin. "We put a qualifier in and got a good lap on that tire. Suzuki Japan along with our Yoshimura team have been working really hard over the past few months and if it wasn't for that, this championship would have been much harder to chase. That hard work is what winning championships is all about."
"It was also good to come away with maximum points from the race this afternoon," continued the four-time AMA Superbike champion, "allowing us to open up a 32-point break over our nearest rival (Zemke) and hopefully we can repeat that again tomorrow. Today's race did go according to plan somewhat for us. Miguel managed to hang on throughout the race. He was about a second or so back and I had a comfortable break over him heading into the last lap, but we came across three back markers in the last chicane that saw the gap between us drop to 0.4 of a second as we crossed the line."
Miguel made his way around Yates soon after and continued on unchallenged in second. The Georgian would eventually fade to fifth as Ben Bostrom and Jake Zemke finished third and fourth respectively.
Superbike – Race One Results:
1. Mat Mladin (Suzuki)
2. Miguel Duhamel (Honda)
3. Ben Bostrom (Honda)
4. Jake Zemke (Honda)
5. Aaron Yates (Suzuki)
6. John Haner (Suzuki)
7. Geoff May (Suzuki)
8. Eric Wood (Suzuki)
9. Shawn Higbee (Suzuki)
10. Opie Caylor (Suzuki)
Superbike Championship Standings:
1. Mat Mladin, 495
2. Jake Zemke, 463
3. Miguel Duhamel, 445
4. Eric Bostrom, 336
5. Ben Bostrom, 335
6. Geoff May, 323
7. Aaron Yates, 298
8. John Haner, 287
9. Eric Wood, 262
10. Josh Hayes, 241