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AMA: MBNA Superbike Sunday - Loudon

22 June 1998


Conditions: partly cloudy, brief light afternoon rain, and temperatures in the low-eighties.
Course length: 1.6 miles, 12 turns
The MBNA Superbike race at NHIS will be televised on TNN on July 4, 2pm EST, and again on July 26 at 2PM EST. Estimated attendance: 39,000

Today's MBNA Superbike race was a demonstration in the unpredictability of racing. American Honda No. 11 rider Ben Bostrom led the first eight laps but then crashed on turn six, handing the lead to No. 66 Yoshimura Suzuki rider Mat Mladin (Bostrom remounted and reentered the race a half-lap behind the leaders). Mladin then developed mechanical problems a lap later and dropped out of the race, relinquishing the lead to Jami Hacking on the No. 92 Yamaha bike.

Hacking led one lap and was overtaken by Yoshimura Suzuki's Aaron Yates on the No. 20 bike. Yates then gradually pulled away to develop a four-second lead. Meanwhile, Muzzy Kawasaki No. 1 pilot Doug Chandler steadily closed on Hacking to challenge him for the runner-up position. But the aggressively pursuant Chandler crashed on the last lap, allowing No. 95 Vance & Hines Ducati rider Anthony Gobert to slide into third-place. An uninjured Chandler ended up in ninth-place.

The MBNA Superbike win is Yates' second career victory and his first of the 1998 season. "I got off to pretty good start and fell in behind the guys," said Yates. "I want to thank Ben and Mat for Making it easy. This place really suits my style, I've really enjoyed it and done really well here...I want to dedicate the race to the guys that got hurt ( Miguel Duhamel, Thomas Wilson and Brett Metzger, who were injured on track Friday) the other day."

With Duhamel out of today's race, Chandler's ninth-place finish was enough to move him into series first-place with 251 points. Anthony Gobert follows with 249, and Ben Bostrom is third in the series rankings with 240 points.

Doug Chandler and the No. 10 Muzzy Kawasaki pulled led evry lap and went on to take the win in today's Pro Honda Oils 600 SuperSport race. Yoshimura Suzuki No. 20 rider Aaron Yates doggedly pursued Chandler on the last few laps and closed what had been a four-second gap to a few bike lengths, but lap traffic in the final turn denied Yates the opportunity he needed to catch Chandler.

Chandler was well aware that Yates was closing the gap. "The track is so hard, you really need to use a lot of brake. They were good the first half but then they started to get a little mushy, so I tried to conserve what I had," said Chandler.

Yates' second-place finish - his third podium finish in the 1998 series - was secured after a lengthy battle with American Honda No. 11 rider Ben Bostrom. Yates finally overtook Bostrom shortly after the halfway point. Bostrom finished in third-place today, adding a podium finish to his Road Atlanta win.

Shawn Higbee took another hard-earned win aboard the Tilley's Buell No. 3 bike today. Higbee led all 24 laps of today's race. "This place is brutal on engines, but the bike ran and handled great. I'm glad to get the win," said Higbee. The win is Higbee's third in the 1998 Progressive Insurance Pro Thunder series, and moved him from third to second-place in the season rankings.

Paul Harrell and the No. 47 Orange County Triumph took a seventh podium finish today. Harrell still holds series first-place with 244 points and a four-point over Higbee.

Eric Wood had a surprise for the Progressive Insurance Pro Thunder field today. Wood took a podium finish in his first race of the season aboard the No. 135 Penguin Racing BMW.

The championship hopes of No. 10 Performance Machine rider Roland Sands were not diminished today. Sands took his fifth series win after dueling with No. 90 World Sports Imports rider Chuck Sorensen. Sorensen crashed on turn two as the race drew to a close, leaving Sands to ride on to victory. "This is a hard track to win on, I'm just glad to be up here on the podium today," said Sands. With 274 points, Sands now leads the Elf Race Fuels & Lubricants Grand Prix series by a 50 point margin over No. 80 Erion Honda rider Kurtis Roberts.

When Sorensen crashed (he reentered the race to finish eighth), Kurtis Roberts pulled up to take second-place in the race, and the season rankings as well. The podium finish is Roberts' fifth in the 1998 Elf Race Fuels & Lubricants Grand Prix series.

Erion Honda No. 2 rider Randy Renfrow joined teammate Roberts on the podium with a third-place finish. The podium finish is Renfrow's first this season, and the points earned moved him up from sixth to fifth-place in the series rankings.