May 17, 2002
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<BR><BR>Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>By David Swarts<BR><BR>Irate Superbike privateer Andy Deatherage, who is currently 10th in AMA Superbike point standings, confronted three-time AMA Superbike Champion Mat Mladin on hot pit lane Friday morning during Superbike practice at Road Atlanta.<BR><BR>According to eyewitness Chuck Warren, co-owner of Arclight Suzuki, Deatherage rode his pit scooter onto hot pit lane during green-flag conditions, blocking Mladin, who was attempting to ride out of the pits on his Team Blimpie Yoshimura Suzuki. Deatherage dismounted his pit bike and furiously exchanged words and hand gestures with Mladin, face-to-face. Yoshimura team members quickly gathered around the pair on pit lane, and the confrontattion was broken up by AMA officials.<BR><BR>Still furious 20 minutes later, after Superbike practice had ended, Deatherage said, "I looked back heading down to turn six, and I saw Mladin coming. I made sure I gave him some room and let him by. Then he got held up by traffic going into seven, and I was able to ease by on the outside and pass him.(Coming out of turn seven) he got on the gas, came up next to me, leaned on me and ran me right off the outside of the track and into the dirt. If I didn't completely shut off, he would've hit my front wheel.<BR><BR>"I got past him in traffic, and it pissed him off. So he had to retaliate instantly. Well, f**k him! I get out of that f**ker's way every race. Not anymore! I used to think he was an asshole. Now, I know he's an asshole!"<BR><BR>When asked about the pit lane incident and what caused it, Mladin told a Roadracingworld.com reporter, "I don't even know who that was. I don't know what he was talking about. When people are going that slow, you don't know when you run them off the track."<BR><BR>Mladin is currently seventh in points, 11 points ahead of Deatherage after five races.<BR><BR>Moments after the end of Superbike practice and before the mid-day rider's meeting, AMA Pro Racing's Ron Barrick asked Deatherage to stay after the meeting. After a five-minute discussion, Deatherage said that Barrick just wanted to know what happened. There had been no announcement of disciplinary action against either rider as of post time.<BR>