Am Pro Yamaha’s Jason Raines (pictured) and FMF Suzuki’s Rodney Smith continued their series-long battle in the AMA Grand National Cross Country Series, and for the second race in a row, it was Raines who prevailed. And it was again a close one.
“It was an awesome battle,” Raines said after the Patriot GNCC held at Virginia Motorsports Park, June 13. “We must have passed five or six times on the last lap.”
Smith led heading into the last lap, but Raines caught him for a last-lap shootout. Smith’s final bid for the win ended when they raced side-by-side through a puddle. “I had water get up underneath my Roll-Offs,” Smith said. “I actually got him back, but when we got into the woods, I couldn’t see and I hit a tree. I’m not a sand rider, so to take second place today behind Jason, who rode awesome, I’ll take it.”
Smith’s teammate Mike Kiedrowski was also in the hunt all day, but a last-lap crash dropped him to the third.
Am Pro Yamaha’s Randy Hawkins logged his best GNCC ride in years with a strong fourth-place ride, while FMF Suzuki’s “Fast” Fred Andrews finished up in fifth. Attrition took out several title contenders, most notably defending GNCC Champion Barry Hawk who crashed out while battling Raines for the lead early.
Hawk washed out in a high-speed corner and landed on his head. The champ was diagnosed with probable concussion.
Parts Unlimited/Moose Honda’s Scott Summers dropped out of the race early with a blown shock, and Throttlehead.com Kawasaki’s Steve Hatch was on charge until he lost his rear brakes. Shane Watts logged some of the fastest laps of the day on his KTM 200, but a series a huge crashes resulted into a bent-up machine and a DNF for the Aussie.
Smith leads the standings over Raines by just five points.