AMA Superbike Championship: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Finale

AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - Corona AMA Superbike Finale

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida - On September 27-28, the AMA Superbike Championship will travel to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in Monterey, California for a second time this season for the Corona AMA Superbike Finale.

Unlike the trip in July when they shared the circuit with the superstars of MotoGP, this time the spotlight will shine solely on AMA Pro Racing riders and the weekend will feature the full complement of AMA classes.

Going For Broke
Following the Road Atlanta round, it was confirmed that the disqualification of Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin at Virginia International Raceway would be upheld, awarding teammate Ben Spies his third-straight AMA Superbike title prior to the season finale.

While that means there will be no high-stakes shootout for the crown to replicate the dramatic finale in 2007 (in which Spies defeated Mladin by a single point after winning the race), it does set the stage for a memorable duel in its own right.

With no championship concerns to distract them, both riders will be able to push to their absolute limits, riding purely out of pride and the opportunity to get the last word in their rivalry, at least for this season.

Who stands as the favorite is anybody's guess. Spies won three straight times at Laguna Seca prior to this season's visit to the venue in July, when the Australian struck back with a dominating triumph of his own.

Riding High
Along with receiving word that he had locked up the title for a third consecutive season, Spies comes in fresh after impressing the world with a stunning ride as a wild card in the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, qualifying fifth and finishing sixth against the best and most experienced riders in the world despite his limited experience with grand prix machinery and tires.

The Battle for Third
While Spies has already been crowned with an unassailable 620 points, and no one can catch Mladin in second place at 519, third place in the AMA Superbike Championship has yet to be decided.

Yamaha Factory Racing's Jason DiSalvo has the edge going into the finale, having earned 440 points thanks to a pair of podiums, and by avoiding too many costly mistakes.

Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing's Jamie Hacking is fourth with 421 points. The British-born ace has racked up eight podiums, including a pair of runner-ups, but some DNFs have him trailing rival DiSalvo.

DiSalvo's teammate, Eric Bostrom, is only one point behind Hacking. Bostrom picked up his two podiums after the fact, having a pair of fourth-place rides at VIR elevated to thirds when Mladin was disqualified.

Others to Watch
Tommy Hayden, the third Rockstar Makita Suzuki team member, comes into Laguna Seca with four-straight podiums and eight this year. Only an early-season injury and his inability to contest every round prevents him from challenging for third in the title race.

Meanwhile, Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates picked up his only AMA Superbike podium finish of the season in the first stop at Laguna Seca, fending off Hacking at the checkered flag for third.

Title Still Up for Grabs
The Pro Honda Oils Supersport Championship is the only class in which the champion has yet to be crowned this season. Graves Motorsports Yamaha's Ben Bostrom enters the weekend as the heavy favorite to scoop the title, holding a 24-point advantage over Erion Honda's Jake Zemke (328-304).

Bostrom has been on fire this season, scoring six wins and nine podiums in ten attempts, including a blowout victory at Laguna Seca, a track at which he has seen a tremendous amount of success over the years, in both national and international competition.

Bostrom needs only a 17th-place result or better to assure him of the championship. If successful, it will be his third major title, going along with the 1998 AMA Superbike Championship and the 2004 AMA Supermoto Championship.

Hayes Back on Form
While Bostrom and Zemke are at center stage, Erion Honda Racing's Josh Hayes has been the man doing the lion's share of the celebrating as of late. Following a difficult start to the season, the likable Mississippian is rolling now, having won the last two Pro Honda Oils Supersport races, as well as the last three AMA Formula Xtreme races.

Hayes' efforts have not gone unnoticed. He was snapped up by the Parkalgar Honda World Supersport effort to finish out the 2008 campaign with them in the world championship.

Looking to Finish Strong
The reigning class champion, Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing's Roger Hayden, has suffered through an injury-plagued season, but he won a race and secured the title at Laguna Seca last season.

Bostrom's teammate, Josh Herrin, earned his first career win in the '07 season finale at Laguna Seca and started off the '08 season looking like a legit title contender. He'd love to finish out the '08 season the same way he did in 2007.

Here's Comes the Champ
Erion Honda Racing's Jake Zemke will ride for the first time as a champion, finally having earned his first AMA crown after multiple near misses in the past.Zemke has four wins on the season, one more than his teammate, the 2006 and 2007 class champ, Josh Hayes, so bragging rights are still on the line at Laguna Seca.

The competition to determine the season's runner-up is extremely close. Hayes has taken a slight advantage thanks to his three wins in a row with 254 points. Attack Kawasaki's Steve Rapp is right there in third at 249, while LeoVince Foremost Insurance Ducati Team's Larry Pegram, with 240 points, has an opportunity to steal it away from both of them.

Another Streak
While Hayes' three-race run of wins has naturally earned most of the headlines, Team M4 EMGO Suzuki's Martin Cardenas has a streak of his own going, having landed on the podium three races in a row. The Colombian, perhaps the best starter in the paddock, will look to make it four at Laguna Seca.

Three-Time 'Stock King
Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates secured his third class championship at his home track of Road Atlanta, so he'll be free to charge as hard as he wants at Laguna Seca.

Yates may be facing something of a disadvantage, however. In the season's earlier trip to Laguna Seca, the Superstock class didn't take part in the weekend. However, most of the class' top riders raced in Superbike aboard their Superstock-spec machines. Meanwhile, Yates raced up front on his full-blown Superbike, earning a podium finish but missing out on a bit of extra preparation for the Superstock finale.

Determining Second
Jake Holden took the first AMA victory of his career in last year's Laguna Seca season finale. The win propelled him to greater success in 2008. He's won two races in the class riding for Corona Extra Honda Racing and made history for Honda,who had never won in Superstock previously.

While Holden was Yates' teammate at Jordan Suzuki last year, that ride went to Geoff May in 2008. May has taken the opportunity and run with it, claiming the first two AMA wins of his career this season, including his home round at Road Atlanta.

These two are in a struggle to determine the Superstock runner-up at Laguna Seca. Holden has the advantage with 269 points but May isn't out of it with 255.

Team M4 EMGO Suzuki's Blake Young (233 points) has an outside shot as well, trailing Holden by 36 points with 38 points still in play. Young is another new winner, claiming his first AMA victory this season in a thriller at his home round at Road America.

Close Race for Fifth
There is a very tight battle in the class for fifth. Team ESP's Chris Peris currently holds the position at 184 points, followed closely by Team Suzuki's Chris Ulrich (183), Foot & Leg Healthcare's Ryan Elleby (171), Suzuki/Micron/Revit/Race Tech-backed David Anthony (169), Team Suzuki's Robertino Pietri (164), and Moto-Garage Racing's Scott Jensen (164).

Coverage on SPEED
This weekend's AMA Superbike race will air on Sunday, September 28th on SPEED at 6:00pm Eastern. The Pro Honda Oils Supersport race will be shown on SPEED one hour earlier on the same day, airing at 5:00pm Eastern.The Formula Xtreme and Superstock contests will be aired on SPEED on Tuesday, September 30th at 12:00pm Eastern.

Tickets for the Corona AMA Superbike Finale can be obtained online at or by calling 1-800-327-7322.

**About AMA Pro Racing **
AMA Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. AMA Pro Racing series include the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF, the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited, the AMA Flat Track Championship, the AMA Supermoto Championship and the AMA Pro ATV Championship.