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Apr 1, 2002

FTA Races At California Speedway Draw AMA Testers

<BR>Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By David Swarts<BR><BR>Attack Suzuki's Ben Spies was the fastest man at California Speedway Sunday in round two of the FasTrack Association (FTA) Series. Looking for extra testing time at the Fontana track prior to next week's AMA National, Spies entered four sprints on his Suzuki GSX-R1000 Formula Xtreme and GSX-R600 Supersport racebikes and pulled out of each race while leading.<BR><BR>Taking race wins at California Speedway were Ed Sorbo, Chris Ulrich, Phil Herrin, Owen Richey, Jeremy Toye, Ty Howard and James Compton.<BR><BR>After Toye pulled out due to what he later said was a bad vibration coming from his machine, Spies took the overall lead in the combined 750cc Superbike/Open Superstock/Open Superbike race, which saw the 750cc Superbikes start as a first wave followed by a combined Open Superbike/Open Supersport second wave. Spies used his Formula Xtreme GSX-R1000 to quickly build a big advantage despite running wide in chicanes three times, then pulled into the pits on lap 14 of 15.<BR><BR>After running wide twice himself, Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki's Chris Ulrich held on for the overall race win and the Open Superstock class win on a Jerry Daggett-tuned GSX-R1000. Herrin won in the 750cc Superbike class, and Chad Jensen was credited with the Open Superbike class win.<BR><BR>Later, Spies had the 15-lap 600cc Superbike race well in hand with two laps to go when he again pulled into the pits. White Tip Racing's Richey, riding a Yamaha YZF-R6, and Michael Hannas, on a Hayward Motorsports Kawasaki ZX-6R, battled to the end with Richey taking the win by a small margin over Hannas. The 600cc Superstock race played out much the same way with Spies running away, then pulling out of the race after nine of 15 laps. Annandale Racing's Ty Howard accepted the lead from Spies and won the race by over 30 seconds ahead of Hannas and Richey.<BR><BR>In the featured Open GP race, Spies opened up a 14-second lead before pulling off the track on lap eight of 15. Jason Pridmore stayed out to lead the next lap on his Attack Suzuki Supersport GSX-R600 before also pulling in. Annandale Racing's James Compton, riding a GSX-R1000 Superbike on Dunlop slicks, was promoted to first on lap 10, extended his lead and won the 13-entry race over TZ250-mounted Frank Aragaki, Ty Piz on another TZ250 and Chad Jensen on a GSX-R750.<BR><BR>The best race of the day came in the 750cc Superstock final. Local ace Toye got the holeshot and led Chris "Opie" Caylor, DiSalvo, and Howard into the infield. The four GSX-R750 riders were virtually nose-to-tail for 15 laps, battling for position from corner to corner. After leading five of 10 laps, DiSalvo ran wide in a double-apex left and gave up the point to Toye, then pushed wide in the second chicane and dropped to third behind Caylor. DiSalvo regrouped, pushed forward past Caylor, closed the gap to Toye from 1.5 seconds to 1.5 bikelengths but came up short at the finish. Toye won over DiSalvo, Howard, Caylor and Herrin. <BR><BR>Using the same Bridgestone tires that he raced on in the AMA 250cc Grand Prix at Daytona, Ed Sorbo won the five-entry 250cc Grand Prix race after DiSalvo crashed his Team America Grand Prix Racing Honda RS250 out on the first lap.<BR><BR>Riders who made the trip to Fontana for the three-day FTA event and ran in practice but didn't race included AMA 250cc Grand Prix racers Thad Halsmer, Chris Pyles, Perry Melneciuc, Rich Oliver, Roland Sands and John Williams.<BR><BR>AMA Superstock racers who practiced but did not race included Vince Haskovec and James Lickwar.<BR><BR>Josh Hayes, who was scheduled to practice and race on a Supersport-class GSX-R600, did not show up.<BR><BR>The FTA races on Sunday attracted 66 riders and 90 entries, with more riders practicing on Friday and Saturday. The low turnout could have been influenced by the fact that the event was held on Easter weekend and by relatively high practice and entry fees, although the 15-lap race distances were far longer than typical club events.<BR><BR>The turnout was boosted by riders planning to run in the AMA National next weekend and anxious to learn the track prior to the start of official AMA practice on Friday, in the absence of any Thursday practice.<BR><BR>"It cost me more money and it was a pain in the ass to come out this weekend," said Haskovec. "I had to borrow a bike because I had no bike ready, I am still preparing my bike for the AMA weekend. But I had to do it because my competition has been on the track before. I had to do this because there's no Thursday practice, which really helps to get you going. Thursday practice is very important for the privateer guy, and costs way less money than making a special trip here, man. This is my personal feeling, and the feeling of my friends. That is the way that it is, but the AMA wants to keep us from having Thursday practice while the factory guys can afford to practice all they want in special sessions. It's no good. The AMA doesn't care about anybody but factory riders."