Four AMA Championships Up for Grabs at VIR

Elliot Strong
by Elliot Strong
From a press release from VIR:

Alton, Va. (Aug. 5) -- When AMA Pro Racing puts on a season finale, theydon't mess around. At this weekend's VIR Lightning Nationals at VIRginiaInternational Raceway near Danville, Va., featuring the Chevy TrucksU.S. Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited, four of AMAPro Racing's five professional road racing championships will be decidedon VIR's beautiful and challenging 2.25-mile North Course.

Of course the headline attraction is the Chevy Trucks U.S. SuperbikeChampionship, in which Honda's Nicky Hayden leads Kawasaki's EricBostrom by 35 points, 450-415. With the Superbike finale being adouble-header, and 37 maximum points available from each of the twofinal races, fans can expect a barn-burner between two factory-backedriders who are destined for international superstardom.

Hayden has won eight of the 14 races contested thus far this season, andwould like to add at least one more at VIR. If he has a perfect weekend,Hayden could tie the all-time record of 10 wins in a single season setby Fred Merkel in 1984.

"Eight is great, but nine would be fine!" smiled the 21-year-oldOwensboro, Ky., native.

For his part, 26-year-old Californian Bostrom knows exactly what he hasto do.

"I want to win both races," he said. "That's my goal, and to be fast andset the pace right away. We tested really well there recently, and Ithink it'll be a good weekend for Kawasaki. I just hope that the weatherwon't be too hot, and that we can go out and have a lot of fun."

The closest battle among the five pro series is the one in theLockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series, where three riders arewithin five points of each other. Graves Yamaha's Damon Buckmaster leadswith 246 points, closely followed by Honda's Jake Zemke (244) and AttackSuzuki's Jason Pridmore (241). Hanging on to long-shot chance is HondaMike Hale, with 210.

Local fans will have someone to cheer for in the Genuine SuzukiAccessories SuperStock Series, where Arclight Suzuki's Lee Acree ofnearby Jamestown, N.C., has a 26-point deficit to Corona Suzuki's JimmyMoore, the defending series champ who leads 258-232. Kawasaki's TommyHayden, older brother of Nicky, has an outside shot at 222.

In the MBNA 250 Grand Prix Series, Team Stargel Aprilia's CharlesSorenson is looking reasonably safe with 267 points, sitting 31 pointsahead of Team Oliver Yamaha's Perry Melneciuc (236), with Honda-mountedTeam America GP Racing's Jason DiSalvo third at 233.

The only title of the five to have been clinched is the Pro Honda OilsU.S. SuperSport Championship, which was claimed by Team BlimpieYoshimura Suzuki's Aaron Yates at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course two weeksago. As it turned out, Yates injured his left arm in a crash in thesecond of two Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike races at Mid-Ohio, and isquestionable for VIR, so his timing in the SuperSport championship wasperfect. He still lies fourth in the Superbike points (316), sandwichedbetween Hayden's Honda teammate Miguel Duhamel (346) and Bleu BayouDucati's Pascal Picotte (304), so there's plenty to race for if hisinjuries will allow.

The action gets underway on Friday, Aug. 9, with practice for all fiveseries and qualifying for the Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Seriesstarting at 2:40 p.m. and Genuine Suzuki Accessories SuperStock Seriesat 4:20 p.m. Saturday opens with more practice, followed by a secondround of qualifying for the Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Series (9:50a.m.), qualifying for the Pro Honda Oils U.S. SuperSport Championship(11:00 a.m.), Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike practice (12:40 p.m.),Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series qualifying (1:10 p.m.), thefirst of two Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Series races (26 laps, 2:00p.m.), MBNA 250 Grand Prix Series qualifying and the and Genuine SuzukiAccessories SuperStock Series race (16 laps). Final practices will beSunday morning, followed by the final races of the 2002 season for thePro Honda Oils U.S. SuperSport Championship (16 laps), MBNA 250 GrandPrix Series (16 laps), Lockhart-Phillips USA Formula Xtreme Series (16laps) and the Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Series (26 laps), with thefirst race taking the green flag at 12:00 noon.

Once all the racing is over on Sunday, perhaps the most highlyanticipated competition of the weekend will take place, as most of thetop riders in all five series will strut their stuff in both ridingleathers and swimwear to determine the winner of the inaugural Pit Daddybeauty pageant. With thousands of dollars worth of prizes to be raffledoff during the evening (proceeds benefiting the Clayton Foundation tohelp injured riders) and some of the biggest egos in all of professionalAmerican motorcycle road racing on the line, it will be a night toremember. More information will be available at the Cycle News booth atthe track.

Three-day advance Super Tickets priced at $50 and single-day advancetickets for Saturday ($30) and Sunday ($35) will be available throughvarious ticket outlets. Check VIR's website,, for ticketoutlets. At the gate, three-day Super Tickets will be priced at $55 andone-day tickets for Friday ($10), Saturday ($35) and Sunday ($40) willalso be available. VIR is a family-friendly facility, where children 12and under are admitted free with a paying adult. Spectator camping isavailable.

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