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Motor Sports: AMA champ defends crown

MONTEREY -- Ben Spies won the season-ending race Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to successfully defend his AMA Superbike championship.

Spies, 23, a Suzuki rider from Longview, Texas, passed teammate and series leader Mat Mladin on lap 16 of the 28-lap final and pulled away to a 2.526-second victory. With his seventh victory of the year, Spies edged Mladin by a point in the closest finish since 1978, when the title was decided on a tiebreaker.

"That was the longest 12 laps I ever raced in my life," Spies said. "The pass up in the corkscrew was a little tight, but we made and kept the No. 1 plate. I proved to a lot of people ... I don't buckle under pressure."

Mladin said his tires let him down.

"I started sliding around about halfway through the race and couldn't catch up," said Mladin, a six-time AMA Superbike champion from Australia. "Congratulations to Ben. We'll come back next year and try to get him again."

NHRA, at Memphis, Tenn. -- Gary Scelzi of Fresno topped the Funny Car field in the O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals, edging teammate Jack Beckman by .0013 of a second in the final at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Scelzi's Dodge Charger crossed the line in 4.886 seconds at 314.61 mph to Beckman's 4.892 at 310.55.

Pro Stock driver Dave Connolly again outran former points leader Greg Anderson in the final for his sixth victory of the year. Just as he did two weeks ago in Indianapolis, Connolly got the better of the three-time POWERade champion in an exciting final that was decided by .0187 of a second, 6.648 at 207.59 to Anderson's 6.658 at 208.65.

Melanie Troxel took out three of the men in the Countdown to Four Top Fuel field, including Bob Vandergriff Jr., Brandon Bernstein and Doug Herbert in the final, 4.728 at 313.22 against Herbert's 4.901 at 290.57.

FORMULA ONE, at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium -- Kimi Raikkonen dominated from start to finish to beat Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa win the Belgian Grand Prix for the third time in a row.

FIM, at Estoril, Portugal -- Valentino Rossi of Italy rode his Yamaha to a victory in the Moto GP portion of the Portugese Grand Prix. Rossi beat Honda rider Dani Pedrosa by .175 of a second. Alvaro Bautista of Spain won the 250cc race and Hector Faubel of Spain the 125cc race.

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