Spies & Mladin article in USA Today (August 16th)

Discussion in 'Motorcycle Talk' started by Hozhead, Aug 17, 2006.

  1. Hozhead

    Hozhead <img src="/images/ranks/site_founder.gif" alt="BRN

    Spies and Mladin have made USA today:


    Spies taking helm from Mladin in Superbike changing of the guard.

    Updated 8/16/2006 12:03 AM ET

    Mat Mladin has had the best vantage point to watch his nearly decadelong domination of the AMA Superbike Championship wane on eight occasions this season ? running in second as teammate Ben Spies takes the checkered flag in front of him.

    "It hasn't been tough at all from a racing standpoint," says Mladin, the Australian-born 34-year-old rider who has won six of the last seven Superbike titles. "These things happen. That's racing. Domination for six or seven years is not normal in any form of racing."

    Beyond just winning the title, Spies, 22, of Longview, Texas, could one-up his boyhood idol in another category. One more victory ? he gets two chances this weekend at the Kahuna Nationals at Virginia International Raceway ? would give Spies (pronounced "Speez") a share of the single-season wins mark.

    Mladin set the record with 11 wins last season, passing a milestone that had stood for 21 years.

    "It's not something I think about, to be honest," Mladin says. "I think there are bigger fish to fry."

    Spies, predictably, has a different take on his dominating season, his second as a full-time Superbike rider. "This is something I've dreamt about since I was 8 years old," Spies says. "Mat was one of the guys I looked up to. I had a poster of him up on my wall. This is definitely a big deal. I don't think it will hit me at first. It's going to take a while."

    With five races left, Spies is a healthy 44 points ahead of Mladin. That lead was built not just on wins, but the fact he has finished no lower than third this season.

    Mladin, whose biggest margin in winning a title was 31 points in 2003, backed off his comments from last weekend when he said he should "start thinking about how we're going to bridge the gap for next year and that's what we're doing in these races."

    "There are something like 185 points up for grabs over the remaining races," Mladin says. "A lot can happen. It's been harder to win a championship in recent years. When I was leading (the points race), I've had breakdowns, I've come together with another rider or had somebody crash in front of me."

    But without plenty of help, Mladin's hope for title No. 7 will have to wait until next season ? one that he vows to run. "There's more than 2007 in me," he says. "Everybody else is more worried about (losing the title) than I am."

    Nicky Hayden was the last rider to finish ahead of Mladin in the Superbike points standings (2002) and he bolted for MotoGP the next season. But Spies plans to remain in the USA. He signed a deal last week to remain with Team Suzuki for two more seasons.

    "I have a job to do until the end of 2008," he says. "After that I might think about (a move to MotoGP). Right now, I'm not looking past this season."