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From 1999 to 2005, Australian Mat Mladin won six American Motorcyclist Association Superbike championships, with the record-setting dominance coming in two three-year sequences. The only break during that period was when the “Kentucky Kid,” Nicky Hayden, snatched the title away in 2002 and set sail on the MotoGP scene.

Then, Mladin’s Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Ben Spies, then a 22-year-old Texan, spoiled the veteran Aussie’s second three-year run with a solid championship effort in 2006 on the heels of his runner-up finish in 2005.

The AMA Superbike Championship heads to Road Atlanta for a doubleheader this weekend with the 35-year-old Mladin riding a four-race winning streak that has him within six points of Spies in the battle at the top.

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All that has set the stage for what appears to be the championship decider Sept. 15-16, when the Superbikes complete their season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Mladin broke the 60-win mark in the most recent round in Alton, Va., and comes to Road Atlanta with a remarkable 61 career Superbike victories.

“I’m enjoying this season more than any I’ve had so far because it’s such a good challenge to race Ben and to get the measure of him,” Mladin said. “To be honest with you, I hope we can win the next couple in Atlanta because I really want to be able to go to Laguna Seca and have it winner take all because that would just be the ultimate.”

Ticket information for the AMA Superbike showdown is available by calling 800-327-7322 or logging on to www.laguna-seca.com.

Family Affair in Altamont: The Philpott family of Tracy put on an impressive display at Altamont Motorsports Park on Saturday, lining the podium in a 1-2-3 finish that featured Ryan Philpott in the No. 1 position followed by cousin Justin Philpott and uncle David Philpott.

Ryan’s win, his ninth of the season at Altamont, may have been his toughest fight yet, besting a field of 26 talented drivers in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Late Model Series, including state championship leader Ross Strmiska, Mark Holeman, Brian Koski and Matt Erickson.

Racing will return to Altamont Motorsports Park on Sept. 8 for another combo night, featuring the USAC-CASA Best in the West Series in addition to the V8-powered West Coast ProTrucks.

WINLESS BOWYER IN CHASE

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Clint Bowyer is off the bubble. Now he would like to get that big zero out of his Nextel Cup victories column. The driver sits ninth in the points standings with two races to go. Earning his first win, though, would make Bowyer feel better about his chances of contending for a title. “Getting that first win — not being able to do that, that’s the most frustrating thing,” Bowyer said.

THIS WEEK’S PIT STOPS

NEXTEL CUP

WHAT: NASCAR Nextel Cup Series 500

WHERE: Fontana

WHEN: Sun., 5 p.m.

BUSCH

WHAT: Camping World 300

WHERE: Fontana

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WHEN: Sat., 7 p.m.

NHRA

WHAT: Mac Tools U.S. Nationals

WHERE: Clermont, Ind.

WHEN: Mon., 8 a.m.

IRL

WHAT: Detroit Indy Grand Prix

WHERE: Detroit

WHEN: Sun., 5 p.m.

CHAMP CAR

WHAT: Bavaria GP

WHERE: Assen, Holland

WHEN: Sun., 4 a.m.

FORMULA ONE

WHAT: Italian GP

WHERE: Monza, Italy

WHEN: Sept. 9



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