Argubright Wins, Caselli Honored at Hare & Hound Finale
The AMA Racing/FMF/GPR Hare & Hound National Championship Series came to an end in a mix of emotions. First of all, everyone still felt the loss of Kurt Caselli who died after crashing in the Baja 1000 the week before. Second, many took it as a sign that Caselli may have had something to do with the storms leading up to the race in the North Anderson Dry Lake area of the Johnson Valley Off Highway Vehicle Area, because rarely is the popular Lucerne Valley riding spot in such prime, dust-free condition.
While Caselli had clinched his third straight series championship at the previous round and the rest of the positions in the Pro division were basically set, a number of other class championships were on the line. Still, the Pros went at it hard with the top four hammering at each other the entire race, the final spots being decided on the third and final 15-mile loop after lots of dicing on the first two loops of 40 and 35 miles.
At the finish, Off Road Support/Kawasaki of Simi Valleyís Jacob Argubright celebrated his second win of the year after battling with the Purvines Racing Beta horde of eventual runner-up Nick Burson, third-place Justin Morrow and fourth-place Axel Pearson. All of the top four led at different points during the tight race.
Burson led at the bomb after putting his familiarity with the area to good use. ďLuckily for me, the [AMA] District  race [here] about two months ago had that same exact bomb so I already had a line [picked out],Ē he confessed.
It didnít last long, though, as Argubright passed him not long after with a better line through a wash.
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What followed was the best racing in recent memory. Instead of two guys going at it, four took turns passing and re-passing while enjoying rare dust-free visibility and cool temperatures. Morrow said, ďMe and Jacob had a lot of fun out there, actually. We were going back and forth, and I was following him for a while. We got lost a couple times and Iím like, ĎIt kind of sucks to follow you!í because I wasnít paying attention to the ribbon.Ē
A bent brake pedal on the final loop forced him to back off, letting Argubright and Burson go by with Pearson 43 seconds back in fourth after stopping to pull some cactus out of his arm; it was still Pearsonís best National finish to date.
Afterwards, Argubright reflected on his year: ďI actually am happy with it because I got two wins instead of one so itís improvement. But Iíve also had some bad races. But overall I canít be too disappointed; I got second to Kurt.Ē
Blais Racing KTMís Skyler Howes lost touch with the lead pack and settled for fifth place. Ryan Smth, 250cc A winner Levii Hutchings, 250cc A runner-up Austin Keys, Robert Underwood and 250cc A Kevin Barbosa rounded out the top 10.
1. Jacob Argubright (Kawasaki KX450F)
2. Nick Burson (Beta 498 RR)
3. Justin Morrow (Beta 498 RR)
4. Axel Pearson (Beta 300 RR)
5. Skyler Howes (KTM 300 XC)
6. Ryan Smith (Yamaha YZ250)
7. Levii Hutchings (KTM 250 XC)
8. Austin Keys (Husaberg TE 250)
9. Robert Underwood (KTM 450 SX-F)
10. Kevin Barbosa (KTM 250 XC)