The lessons finally paid off for Am Pro Yamaha's Jason Raines. After finishing a close second at the last three AMA Grand National Cross Country Series events, the Washington native dug deep to out duel nemesis Rodney Smith and claim his second win of the season in Valley View, Pennsylvania, May 16.
"That's why I train so hard, so I can have something left for the last lap," said Raines, 25, who outlasted the field after three hours of racing on a super-rough, rocky course. "The last lap, I was thinking about what happened over the last few weeks, and I was not going to let that happen today. This track was treacherous because of all the rocks. I just tried to keep a steady pace, and I figured if anyone wanted to push hard and try to catch me, it would have been really dangerous for them because of all the rocks."
The course did lead to mistakes for the rest of the pack. FMF Suzuki's Smith saw his three-race win streak snapped on the rugged terrain, as defending GNCC Champion Barry Hawk got around him on the last lap to take second.
"It's pretty good, but obviously I would have liked to have won," said Hawk. "I felt like I was the fastest guy out there today, but I just made a few mistakes. I broke part of my footpeg off and it was hard to charge, but on the last lap when I saw I was close to Rodney, I just blocked it out and pushed. There was a technical section, and he went down."
"I was just trying to put on a charge on the last lap and catch Jason," said Smith. "They told me I was seven seconds behind, and I was pushing through a really gnarly section and caught a log with the front wheel. I'm a little disappointed, but you can't win them all."
A five-rider pack contended for the lead for most of the day. Parts Unlimited/Moose Honda's Scott Summers hung tough for fourth, but he tangled with a lapped rider on a hill, which cost him the time he needed to grab a podium spot. FMF Suzuki's Fred Andrews was in contention too, but he ultimately settled for fifth. RER Motorcity privateer Nate Kanney put in his best ride of the year for sixth, despite taking a rock to the head after he had lost his goggles.
Kawasaki's Chuck Woodford took seventh ahead of Brian Garrahan, Cole Calkins and 250 A rider DR Atwood.
Results: Rausch Creek GNCC
PRO M/C: 1. Jason Raines (Yam); 2. Barry Hawk (Yam); 3. Rodney Smith (Suz); 4. Scott Summers (Hon); 5. Fred Andrews (Suz); 6. Nathan Kanney (Yam); 7. Chuck Woodford (Kaw); 8. Brian Garrahan (KTM); 9. Cole Calkins (Kaw); 10. DR Atwood (KTM).