For the second straight time, Am Pro Yamaha’s Barry Hawk won a round of the Grand National Cross Country Championship, this time at the Power Line Park GNCC in St. Clairsville, Ohio, yesterday. Hawk, who recently returned to racing after getting injured earlier in the year, has risen back to the level that earned him his first GNCC title last year.
"Once I came back from the injury, it really lit a match up under me,” said Hawk who raced for the first time the 2005 YZ250. “I'm fired up. The '05 worked awesome, it just took me a little while to get used to how it reacted in some situations. I want to use what we learned and keep this momentum going into next year."
After three hours of close racing, FMF Suzuki's Doug Blackwell and Kawasaki Team Green's Chuck Woodford finished second and third, respectively. It was the best finish for both riders this year.
"I wanted to win this one today, but I'm happy to be up here," Blackwell said. "It takes a great team behind you to get up here, and I finally have that. It's been way too long since I've been up here, but I'm back."
"All year long I've been struggling," said Woodford, who lives only ten minutes from Power Line Park. "I didn't have to bang bars all day. I just stayed relaxed and calm and let it come to me. I was following Barry for a while and we got into first and second, but Doug got a little too excited in a mudhole and we crashed. But I just stayed in a comfort zone today."
Series points leader Rodney Smith was in position to clinch the 2004 Championship when he ran second early, but he got wire wrapped in his bike and dropped all the way back to 12th before mounting a strong comeback to finish fourth, just one positions ahead of Am Pro’s Jason Raines. The title will now be decided at the final round in Crawfordsville, Indiana, in two weeks. "Once I saw Jason right behind me, I knew I would have to wait until Indiana," Smith said. "On the last lap it was kind of fun, we were hollering at each other and everything, just having fun. I think the pressure is off of both of us right now."
Before the race, Raines revealed that he has be riding with a fractured shoulder socket. "At this point, my only goal was to just try to keep the championship going to the last race," Raines said. "I hurt my shoulder over the summer and I'm going to ride it out.” It gets stuck in position sometimes and it like a deer in the headlights while you just wait for it to unlock." Throttlehead.com Kawasaki's Josh McLevy finished sixth, followed by his teammate Steve Hatch, Australian Enduro Champion Glenn Kearney, KTM’s Mike Lafferty and Gas Gas rider John Barber.
1. Barry Hawk Jr. (Yam); 2. Doug Blackwell (Suz); 3. Chuck Woodford (Kaw); 4. Rodney Smith (Suz); 5. Jason Raines (Yam); 6. Josh McLevy (Kaw); 7. Steve Hatch (Kaw); 8. Glenn Kearney (Yam); 9. Mike Lafferty (KTM); 10. John Barber (GG); 11. Cole Calkins (Kaw); 12. Charles Mullins (KTM); 13. Lance Smail (Kaw); 14. Jesse Robinson (Kaw); 15. Andy Shea (Kaw); 16. Stephen Edmondson (KTM); 17. Brett Zofchak (Kaw); 18. Aaron Wegner (Yam); 19. Kyle Chaney (Yam); 20. Chris Gallt (Kaw).
POINT STANDINGS (After 13 of 14 rounds): 1. Rodney Smith (319/6 wins); 2. Jason Raines (292/4 wins); 3. Barry Hawk Jr. (209/3 wins); 4. Steve Hatch (187); 5. Fred Andrews (168); 6. Scott Summers (165); 7. Doug Blackwell (161); 8. Mike Kiedrowski (142); 9. Cole Calkins (121); 10. Robbie Jenks (118).