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Hurricane Mills, TN – FMF Suzuki’s Rodney Smith is 40 and on fire. The four-time AMA Grand National Cross Country Series Champion captured his third-straight win at the Yamaha GNCC at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. Smith prevailed in yet another exciting last-lap duel with Am Pro Yamaha’s Jason Raines, who took second for the third-straight race.

‘This is unbelievable,’ said Smith. ‘I would have never dreamed I could win three in a row against all the competition in this series. Jason and I passed back and forth on the last lap, but I made a move and things turned out my way. I don’t what it is right now.’

Raines doesn’t either, but he’s happy with the consistency and with the close racing. ‘This season will definitely be one for the memory banks,’ said Raines. ‘The last few weeks, these battles have been the greatest ones of my life. Rodney and I battled again, and we were hanging it out on the motocross track. And the racing is clean, and that’s probably the best part about it.’

‘Like I said at the last race, I don’t care who wins, the racing here is so good and so fun it doesn’t matter,’ said Smith of the barn-burner battles that have become common this season.

Heading into the sixth and final lap of on the ultra-rough Loretta Lynn’s course, Smith and Raines had to fight Suzuki’s Fred Andrews, who ran up front all day and had tried to sprint away when the two-lap board went out. Andrews pushed hard but just ran out of steam down the stretch, but third was impressive considering the circumstances. ‘I was hoping to hold them off, but once Jason got by I knew I didn’t have anything for him, so I let Rodney go by,’ said Andrews. ‘My grandfather died last week, so I haven’t done any training or riding. I said I would ride my heart out for him though, and that’s what I did.’

At one point in the race, an eight-rider pack had formed behind the leader, leading to a variety of passes as each contender tried to stay in the hunt. Kawasaki rider Steve Hatch put in a solid ride for fourth, and a third Suzuki rider, Doug Blackwell was fifth.

The day’s hero award must go to Parts Unlimited/Moose Honda rider Scott Summers, who gutted out an sixth-place finish despite riding with a broken collarbone. Just over a week removed from surgery to install a plate in the broken bone, Summers rode smooth and held on. ‘I was so worried about falling on it that I considered letting everyone go at the start,’ said Summers. ‘I tried to just ride the bike. There are sections out there where you have to push or pull on the bike to get over the whoops, and I couldn’t do that, so I just let it go.’

Defending GNCC Champ Barry Hawk was a disappointing seventh. ‘I don’t know what the problem was today, but I made too many mistakes,’ said Hawk, who rides for the Am Pro Yamaha team. ‘I just fell a lot. I don’t understand. But I’ll be back to try to win in Kentucky in two weeks.’

KTM’s Shane Watts once again fell on hard times. After grabbing the holeshot, the Australian crashed a few times early. He reeled the pack back in, but another hard collision with a lapper resulted in a broken water pump, and a DNF. ‘I’m just so sick of having to make excuses for not getting the results,’ said the former GNCC Champ. ‘I feel great, and I’m training so hard. I’m just not getting the results.’

The GNCC Series will return in two weeks with the Spartan GNCC in Sparta, Kentucky.

1. Rodney Smith – Suz
2. Jason Raines – Yam
3. Fred Andrews – Suz
4. Steve Hatch – Kaw
5. Doug Blackwell – Suz
6. Scott Summers – Hon
7. Barry Hawk – Yam
8. Chuck Woodford – Kaw
9. Brian Garrahan – KTM
10. Cole Calkins – Kaw

Point Standings:
1. Rodney Smith – 145
2. Jason Raines – 126
3. Barry Hawk – 99
4. Steve Hatch – 96
5. Fred Andrews ? 88
5. Mike Kiedrowski – 88
7. Scott Summers – 85
8. Doug Blackwell – 77
9. Brian Garrahan – 70
10. Chuck Woodford – 63


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