Mladin, Spies, Hayden

Henny Ray Abrams | August 30, 2008

BRASELTON, GA, AUG 30: Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin led an unconventional Suzuki sweep of the podium in the first race of the Suzuki Superbike Showdown at Road Atlanta. The win may have been Mladin’s seventh AMA Superbike race in a row: That won’t be known until AMA Pro Racing hears the appeal of his disqualification from Virginia International Raceway, where he won both races two weeks ago. What also won’t be known is whether or not Ben Spies has his third title. Spies finished a surging second after serving a stop-and-go penalty for creeping outside his starting box on the grid. Spies, who was having problems with his launch control, put his hand up to delay the start, and an AMA official waved her pit board. But he inadvertently rolled out of his starting box and incurred the penalty. Spies served his stop-and-go at the end of the third lap, dropping from eighth to 12th. Then came the recovery. Lapping faster than everyone but Mladin, and sometimes faster than him as well-Spies had the fastest lap-the Texan methodically worked his way through the field. He was tenth on lap five, then gained a spot on each lap from seven to nine. That put him in seventh and on the tail of a five-way battle for third. One spot was gained when Monster Kawasaki’s Jamie Hacking fell in the final turn on lap 11 and on the 15th he burst into the pack, taking, on successive laps, Yamaha’s Jason DiSalvo, Yamaha’s Eric Bostrom, and teammate Tommy Hayden for second on the 17th of 25 laps. At that point Mladin had 9.824 seconds, which was reduced to 5.483 at the end. Tommy Hayden was another 4.9 secs. back in third. “It was fairly uneventful, obviously, when Ben (Spies) got the meatball and fairly large gap, so just put it on cruise control, conserve some energy for tomorrow and look forward to probably a better race tomorrow and close one,” Mladin said. As for his disqualification from VIR, and having his times disallowed from Friday qualifying, Mladin said, “Listen, I don’t have a lot to say about it, Virginia or yesterday. All I’ve said is that Roger Edmondson can take away my wins, he can take away whatever he likes. He’ll never be able to take away my family, my fans, or my heart, ever. And he can do what he pleases, but he’ll never stop Mat Mladin being who he is.” Under the points issued after the race, and pending the resolution of the appeal, Spies has 584 to 483 for Mladin, enough to claim the title. But he was as confused as anyone. “I have no thoughts on that,” he said. “There is just nothing… I don’t know what’s going on and I don’t think… No comment.” Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates finished fourth, just over a second behind Hayden, and with three seconds on Yamaha’s Eric Bostrom. Bostrom’s teammate Jason DiSalvo finished sixth, after fading from fourth, when he ran until the 15th lap. American Honda’s Miguel Duhamel finished seventh. His teammate Neil Hodgson retired after the first lap. In his return to Superbike racing, Kurtis Roberts pitted the Celtic Racing Suzuki on the third lap. Superbike: 1. Mat Mladin (Suzuki) 2. Ben Spies (Suzuki) 3. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 4. Aaron Yates (Suzuki) 5. Eric Bostrom (Yamaha) 6. Jason DiSalvo (Yamaha) 7. Miguel Duhamel (Honda) 8. Matt Lynn (Honda) 9. Geoff May (Suzuki) 10. Ben Thompson (Suzuki)

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.