ALTON, VA, AUG 16: Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ben Spies tacked on another valuable championship point with his seventh pole position of the year, today’s coming in record time on a sunny morning at Virginia International Raceway. Spies had trailed teammate Mat Mladin throughout the half hour morning session until near the very end. Then the Texan turned a deficit into an advantage by lapping the 2.25-mile road course in 1:23.403 mins. The time was under Mladin’s record of 1:24.045 mins. and .069 faster than Mladin’s best this morning. Spies, who’s never won a Superbike race at VIR, increased his championship lead to 28 points, 477 to 449, in advance of this afternoon’s Superbike race. “It was good,” Spies said. “We went out on some race set-up and did some laps and got going OK and, y’know, Mat (Mladin) threw down a really good time and when I saw that I kind of just took a deep breath and I was like, alright, we’ve got to go for this one. And, I mean, just ‘cause we squeaked him out, that was a hell of a lap that he did because that was all I had to do to do that lap and that was a pretty good one. “Yeah, it worked out today and, y’know, obviously, it looks like Mat’s got some real good pace on race tires and I think we’re pretty close and right there with him, so hopefully it’ll turn out to be a good race.” Suzukis ended up sweeping the top four spots. Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates qualified third, a second down on Mladin in third, with Tommy Hayden putting the third Rockstar Makita Suzuki on the end of the front row. Hayden’s best lap knocked Yamaha’s Jason DiSalvo back to the row two pole, just in front of teammate Eric Bostrom. Then came Monster Kawasaki’s Jamie Hacking, farther down than he’s been in recent races. American Honda’s Neil Hodgson was eighth. Superbike Qualifying: 1. Ben Spies (Suzuki) 1:23.403 2. Mat Mladin (Suzuki) 1:23.472 3. Aaron Yates (Suzuki) 1:24.545 4. Tommy Hayden (Suzuki) 1:24.653 5. Jason DiSalvo (Yamaha) 1:24.707 6. Eric Bostrom (Yamaha) 1:25.061 7. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki) 1:25.072 8. Neil Hodgson (Honda) 1:25.311 9. Roger Lee Hayden (Kawasaki) 1:25.369 10. Geoff May (Suzuki) 1:25.681
Spies on Pole at VIR
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.