Ben Spies (11) leads his Yoshimura Suzuki teammate and eventual race winner Mat Mladin (1) and Ben Thompson (907) in the October running of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course round. Spies finished seventh and that earned him the 2006 AMA Superbike Championship. Photo by Tom Riles

With MotoAmerica set to bring AMA Superbike racing back to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, August 16-18, we’re taking a closer look at past Superbike races at the iconic racetrack in Lexington, Ohio.

In 2006, there were two AMA Nationals held at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The first one went off as normal, the second one? Not so much. In fact, it almost ended with a factory-rider boycott of the heat races, a gimmick new to the Mid-Ohio round.

The debacle of a potential 10-rider privateer Superbike final was avoided with the top 10 in the point standings given provisional starts so they could race in the National. But they would have to start from the back.

The most important thing, however, that came out of the race weekend in Ohio was that Yoshimura Suzuki’s Ben Spies wrapped up the 2006 AMA Superbike Championship.

Spies came to Mid-Ohio needing to finish 13th or better if teammate Mat Mladin maximized his points total. Spies earned a point for pole and the third member of the Yoshimura Suzuki team, Aaron Yates, earned a point for leading the most laps.

Yates was leading when the race was red-flagged due to debris on the track and the restart featured the factory riders at the front of the grid after they’d worked their way back to the pointy end when the red-flag was shown.

Mat Mladin (1) congratulates Ben Spies (11) on winning Suzuki’s 10th AMA Superbike title. Photo by Tom Riles.

Mladin went to the front on the 20th lap and stayed there to the finish, winning his eight race of the season by a tick over four seconds. Yates was second with Englishman Neil Hodgson third on the Parts Unlimited Ducati.

Spies, meanwhile, rolled across the finish line in seventh as the 2006 AMA Superbike Champion.

“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but it’s… I can already tell the feeling is getting there,” the 22-year-old Texan said. “Hopefully, next year, now we know what to expect for a full year learning, and the pressure, and all that stuff. So just go back home and train, and obviously try not to take a step backwards – make a couple steps forward – and be tougher next year. That’s the goal.”

Spies won 10 times in 2006 and was never off the podium until breaking a bone in his right hand at Virginia International Raceway. Even then, he was second in the first race and fourth in the second. He came into the Mid-Ohio round with a 13-point lead.

“That was the tightest I’ve ever ridden,” Spies said. “I’m not going to lie about that. I was definitely nervous, and I didn’t want to slow anybody else up.”

“I think Ben’s smart enough to know that I’m not going to go away easily,” Mladin said. We’ll be back to rock-and-roll next year and I can’t wait. He’s a great young rider, and for me it was awesome to have someone to help pick my game back up again. It’s a shame that he won the championship, but that’s the way it goes. You’re not going to win them all.”