The Loudon Road Race Series entered its Labor Day Weekend races with championship battles in full swing, and it did not disappoint in the Middleweight Grand Prix's "Dash for Cash" on Saturday.
Scott Greenwood started the event with a comfortable 22-point lead on second-place Eric Wood, who has spent much of the season rounding his new Kawasaki ZX6R in top shape. He found that level on Saturday to present Greenwood with his first challenge in four races, as the two battled for the lead throughout the shortened, eight-lap feature.
Christian Cronin earned the hole shot to lead the first lap on his Yamaha R6 before being overtaken by the hard-charging motorcycles of Wood and Greenwood. The No. 5 Wood held a small gap before the leaders got caught in heavy lap traffic. Greenwood seized the opportunity to jump to the lead when Wood struggled with a lap-down motorcycle in Turn 11, but gave the lead back on the following lap when he was pushed outside in Turn 3 by a lapper.
While this battle unfolded, Shane Narbonne caught up to the leaders after having started from the back of the grid. Narbonne is a two-time Loudon Classic champion in the class, but has raced in it sparingly in 2014 due to commitments with AMA.
Narbonne's Suzuki GSXR600 got to the back wheel of Greenwood's Yamaha R6, but never worked his way into the top-two, having seemingly used up most of what he had in catching the leaders.
Greenwood, meanwhile, found something in his motorcycle, just like he had done in each of his three last race wins. He passed Wood again late in the race, and this time made the lead stick to pull away with the victory.
"We had lots of swapping back and forth for the lead with Eric (Wood) and I because of lap traffic," Greenwood said of the race. "Once I made a move to regain the lead near the end, I tried to ride mistake free and get through the rest of the traffic as best I could."
Wood came home in second, and Cronin got around a fading Narbonne to take the final spot on the podium.
"You're always disappointed with second," Wood said of his finish. "We had a good opportunity. We got in good position. And, lap traffic just kind of got in our way a little bit."
The Loudon Road Race Series has one race weekend left in 2014 on Oct. 4 and 5. Greenwood leads the Middleweight Grand Prix standings with 201 to Wood's 173, and will clinch the championship outright with a finish of sixteenth or better, or if Wood does not finish in the top-two. Jason Carter is third in points with 135 and can no longer accrue enough points to win the class championship.