GNCC ROUND 13: FINAL RACE–OCT 21
Round 13 of 13
The 2003 GNCC Series has not been Rodney Smith?s to enjoy. The four-time champion came off the most surprising season last year, regaining his composure through the latter races and grabbing the title from the clenched fists of Jason Raines. With high expectations and early predictions in his favor, Smith suddenly encountered bike troubles that in years past have avoided him.
Without a score in the opening round, it was apparent that Rodney was beginning a rollercoaster ride of a season, much like he had in 2002. No big deal, Smith took third the next race and won by two seconds over points leader Barry Hawk. With Hawk slipping back to fifth at round four and Smith taking another third place it looked as if Rodney was finding his champion form.
Then, without any indication or forewarning, Smith was pummeled with one DNF after another. One DNF turned into two, and two turned into four races in a row without scoring inside the top 20. The demise of Rodney Smith was in full swing. Or was it? At round nine and eleven he came through and finished third, until he encountered another DNF at round twelve. It was evident after round six that Smith was out of contention for his fifth title, but instead was looking to salvage anything he possibly could.
This brings us to the ?Ironman GNCC? in Crawfordsville, Indiana and the final GNCC race of 2003. Call it redemption, call it a comeback, and call it Smith?s second race win of the season, because the former champion was riding like it was his last race! Smith sliced and diced the competition, including the newly crowned champion Barry Hawk (Hawk finished a season worst sixth place).
In fact, the only rider to stay even remotely close to Smith was Mike Lafferty, who eventually finished 22 seconds behind the Suzuki rider. After Lafferty, the stopwatch indicated that Jason Raines finished over a minute behind Lafferty.
For Rodney Smith, it was the race that he?d been in search of since the beginning of 2003. The GNCC series is over and deservedly Barry Hawk is the 2003 champion, but for Rodney Smith it was his shining moment in his otherwise ominous season.
1. Rodney Smith ? Suz
2003 Final Point Standings: