The following is a release from GNCC Racing…
Four months ago, the Kentucky round of the AMA Grand National Cross Country Series was cancelled due to heavy rain. But at the make-up race in the same place, GNCC points leader Rodney Smith kept his championship forecast bright by taking the win. Heavy rains forced the cancellation of the original Spartan GNCC on May 2, as the pits and parking area had become impossible to negotiate even for four-wheel drive trucks. This version of the race was completely different, as the facility narrowly missed the remains of Hurricane Frances and stayed dry all week. Dust, in fact, could be found in the open sections of the track. Smith overcame a serious challenge from Am Pro Yamaha’s defending GNCC Champ Barry Hawk and Jason Raines, who finished second and third.
“I had a good summer break and came back strong,” said Smith. “Barry rode a great race and I had fun battling out there. The other guys race all summer long and maybe they get a little burned out, but I had a good break. I’m ready to stay up front for these last three rounds.”
“It was a lot of fun out there today,” said Hawk. “I got into the lead, and Rodney was hounding me, and he picked a better line in the only mudhole they had out there. I was right on him on the last lap, but with about three miles to go I washed out in a creek bed and lost him. I charged and charged to try to get back up, and then I just had some brain fade and went too fast over a hill. I locked up the brakes and got it wedged into a tree. Rodney rode awesome today.”
The win is a huge boost to Smith’s drive for a fifth GNCC title, as the veteran from California stretches his points lead from five to 14 points over Raines, who was third on the day. “It was real tough today,” said Raines. “Right when I blinked they waved the green flag and I got a horrible start. I crashed my brains out today, and I just tried to regroup. I thought it was going to be worse than it was.”
After dominating the previous GNCC in Ohio two months ago, Raines was unable to capitalize on his momentum, and he barely held off Parts Unlimited/Moose/Honda’s Scott Summers down the stretch.
“I’m really happy with the way things turned out,” said Summers. “I’m finally really comfortable on the bike, and I’m looking forward to these last three rounds.”
Fifth went to FMF Suzuki’s Doug Blackwell, with Team Green support rider Cole Calkins logging a career-high sixth overall.
PRO: 1. Rodney Smith (Suz); 2. Barry Hawk (Yam); 3. Jason Raines (Yam); 4. Scott Summers (Hon); 5. Doug Blackwell (Suz); 6. Cole Calkins (Kaw); 7. Randy Hawkins (Yam); 8. P.A. Allen (Kaw); 9. Charles Mullins (KTM); 10. Andy Shea (Kaw); 11. Steve Hatch (Kaw); 12. Robbie Jenks (Yam); 13. Patrick Hayes (KTM); 14. Ryan Rodgers (KTM); 15. Travis Green (Kaw); 16. Jesse Robinson (Kaw); 17. D.R. Atwood (KTM); 18. Brian Lawson (Yam); 19. Cody Calkins (KTM); 20. Kyle Chaney (Yam).