The legendary Loretta Lynn’s Ranch hosted the best race of the year in the Suzuki Grand National Cross Country Series, as four riders put a challenge to KTM’s defending series champion Juha Salminen athe Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, April 23. The challenge lasted to the last lap, when Am Pro Yamaha’s Barry Hawk finally ran out of steam, allowing Salminen to pull away with his fifth-straight win.
“We had the challenge today, it was a fun race,” Salminen said. “It felt like a normal race off the start, but I made of couple of wrong turns. I didn’t know the guys were that close – it was a different race. It was good to have it, it was more entertaining.”
Early in the race, Charles Mullins, Hawk, and FMF Suzuki’s Glenn Kearney and Rodney Smith chased the Fin around the track, and at the halfway point, Mullins was able to get into the lead. Salminen got it back, but Hawk shadowed him for most of the day, determined not to let Salminen go.
“It was fun, I finally got a start,” Hawk said. “I knew I could run with him if I could get a start. I was right there, but on the last lap, I don’t know, I didn’t lose energy, but I just started getting tingly, and then I went to drink some water, and I felt like I was going to throw up. I just hit the wall.”
After the race, he had to be tended to by trackside medics as a precautionary measure due to dehydration.
Kearney was also in the hunt most of the day and ended up third. “I’m not sure what the difference was today, we were able to stay with Juha,” Kearney said. KTMHutt.com’s Shane Watts finished fourth and Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Fred Andrews finished fifth.