Mat Mladin to Start from American Superbike Pole at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
NEWS July 4, 2009
MONTEREY, Calif. (July 4, 2009) - Mat Mladin led a top-three sweep for the Yoshimura Suzuki team in qualifying,
riding his No. 7 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 to a best lap of
1:24.592 (95.243 mph) around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to earn the pole position in tomorrow's AMA Pro National Guard American Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited final at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. The Aussie has now qualified
on the pole seven times in seven qualifying sessions this season and owns 62
career American Superbike poles. He heads into Sunday's race looking for his
10th victory of the season and the 82nd of his career.
"It was a good lap for us," Mladin said. "We've just been frantically working on the bike trying to make some improvement. Throughout each session, we've made some. We're just trying to get it to consistently do good lap times and it feels pretty good. We made a couple of changes there before the last time we went out and they certainly helped out a little bit. Hopefully, we can make some more in the morning."
Starting second will be Blake Young on the No. 79 Rockstar/Makita/Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 with a lap at 1:24.936 (94.858 mph). For a time in the session, Young seemed poised to take his first American Superbike pole, but a late flyer by Mladin relegated him to second on the grid. He is looking for his first American Superbike victory.
"It went really good for us today," said Young. "I mean, every time we get on the bike, we improve the bike a little bit better. I got some laps out there and I think we're going to be good for the race. I think we've got a pretty decent race setup and qualifying went good. We got a good lap in there and we're up on the front row, so I've got to really thank my Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki/Yoshimura guys for doing good for me this weekend and getting us up here."
Tommy Hayden made it three Yoshimura Suzukis in the top-three starting spots with a lap at 1:25.075 (94.702 mph). It is Hayden's fourth front-row starting position of the season and he heads into Sunday's race second in the American Superbike championship standings trailing Mladin by 110 points, 325-215. He has finished on the podium in six of 11 races this season, but is still looking for his first win on an American Superbike as well.
"It feels good," Hayden said. "Obviously, the bike is working pretty good with all three of us up here. I feel like we've made a few improvements since the last race. The team's been working hard, so I'd like to thank those guys. They've made things a little easier, basically, since I've been here. From the time I rolled out, things were coming a little easier this weekend, and things are going pretty smooth. I thought I could have gone a little bit quicker than that, but I'm glad to be on the front row. That was really what I wanted more than anything, to make sure I didn't get stuck back a little bit."
Larry Pegram, who picked up his first American Superbike victory in 10 years in the most recent race last month at Road America, completed the front row with a lap at 1:25.199 (94.564 mph) on the No. 72 Foremost Insurance/Pegram Racing Ducati 1098R. It was Pegram's second front-row qualifying performance of the season and his first since the season-opening round at Daytona in March.
"Obviously, we've got a lot of momentum coming from Road America, but this is a different track in a different place and we've got all different obstacles," Pegram said. "The bike is pretty good. I think we're battling the same thing as everybody. The grip, for some reason with us, seems to be down here this year. I never got a clean lap the whole time, and you get frustrated when you keep catching guys and losing time and you don't get to put your best lap in, and that's kind of what it was for us. We're on the front row, which is good, because I know my bike is great off the start and I'm really good on the start, so we'll try to get out front. I think on race pace, we're good."
Josh Hayes completed the top five with a lap at 1:25.276 (94.479 mph) on the No. 4 Yamaha Motor Corp. USA Yamaha R1. It was Hayes' fifth consecutive top-five qualifying performance. The top seven riders in the session were covered by less than one second.
The American Superbike race wraps up the festivities at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix weekend on Sunday afternoon. The 23-lap (50-mile) race is slated to roll off from a standing start at 4:15 p.m. local time. Same-day television coverage of the American Superbike race and all of the AMA Pro events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca airs on SPEED beginning at 9:00 p.m. PT on Sunday night (late Sunday/early Monday at Midnight ET).
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