Three straight wins to start the season for Fowler
The third round of the 2017 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) series presented by Maxxis, an AMA National Championship, was treated to perfect weather conditions Saturday, March 25, at the second annual Maxxis Cannonball GNCC in Sparta, Ga. The track provided plenty of racing action, where WFR/Yamaha/Maxxis/Fly Racing’s Walker Fowler eventually took home the overall win at the conclusion of the two-hour race.
CST/Induction Solutions/LSR/HiPer/Spider Graphix’s Adam McGill jumped out to the early lead and grabbed the $250 Wiseco XC1 Pro Holeshot Award. While McGill faced a clear track in front of him, there was nothing but riders behind him who were all eager to take his place.
Six-time GNCC champion, Chris Borich and GBC/Canyon Motorsports/Fly Racing’s Landon Wolfe were applying the pressure to McGill early on. After an unfavorable start, Fowler sat in fifth around the three-mile marker.
Within five miles, Fowler was able to shave off two positions where he sat in third. With a tight track, Fowler was accompanied by Coastal Racing’s Brycen Neal who sat in fourth.
As the front runners checked through timing and scoring for the first time, the group was all wheel-to-wheel with less than four seconds separating them. They would continue racing this way for the majority of the race.
As McGill continued to lead, Fowler faded back and Neal was able to secure second right before they hit the nine-mile mark. Borich wasn’t ready to settle for third, where within the next few miles he took the second place back.
This pass fired Neal up where he made another move on both Borich and McGill and moved into the lead as the two-lap card came out. While Neal was finding success, Fowler found himself struggling with a loss of front brakes.
Neal continued to lead the race, while Fowler pushed through. Once the white flag was out, Neal sat a few bike lengths ahead of Fowler and Borich who were rubbing plastic. With only a few miles remaining, Fowler took a unique line across a creek to take the pass for the lead.
Shortly after the pass, Neal would face more issues and clip a tree allowing JMR/ATVriders.com’s Jarrod McClure to move into second. After starting the race outside of the top 10, McClure slid under the radar just as his nickname “Sneaky Snake” implies.
With the largest lead anyone had experienced all race, Fowler rode the last mile comfortably and crossed the finish line victorious. McClure followed just 30 seconds behind in second. Neal was back on-track and in third as he and Borich headed into the final field section. Borich was right on his tail, and was able to hold onto the gas for just a second longer as they went back into the last woods section. This would play a major role in the final podium position where Borich would end up.
As if his come-from-behind win wasn’t exciting enough, Fowler was able to set the fastest lap time of the day on the last lap.
“The first two races I was able to do my thing, but that wasn’t the case today. Everyone showed up to race, and it kind of caught me off guard,” said Fowler. “I had an uncommon fifth place start. We hit the trail and I kept making small mistakes and hitting trees. After about the first hour I bent the front brake rotor so I didn’t have any brakes and I just gave up. Everyone kept cheering me on and then everything started clicking again. I was able to pass Borich and McGill over the creek crossing on the third lap, and I took another line through that same spot the last lap and made the pass on Neal.”
Neal finished just off the podium in forth, and McGill managed to hold onto fifth. Wolfe earned his second sixth place finish of the season, and Shockworx Motorsports/Spider Graphics/GBC Tires ‘ Tucker Wyatt raced his way to a personal best finish in seventh.
Ithaca Recreation/Maxxis/Quad Tech/Storm Peak Crossfit’s Hunter Hart had his hands full with M.R. Unlimited/Hygear Suspension/GBC Tires/Tire Spine’s Devon Feehan. Hart would eventually come out on top in the XC2 Pro-Am division with Feehan following in second. Defending champion, Greg Covert, rounded out the XC2 podium.
Cunningham Racing/Can-Am/Maxxis-backed Kevin Cunningham took control of the 10 a.m. race where he won the overall and the 4×4 Pro class. Can-Am/DJR/Quad Boss’ Bryan Buckhannon and Schoolboy Sr. class winner Ronnie Rusch followed in second and third. Robbie Pecorari made his first podium appearance of the year, finishing third in the 4×4 Pro class.
After a rough start to the season, Ye Olde Cycle Barn’s Alicia McCormick returned to the center of the box in the WXC class. Yamaha’s Traci Pickens and Angel Knox placed second and third.
Ye Olde Cycle Barn’s Layne McCormick raced his way to his first ever youth overall podium in this morning’s 8 a.m. youth race. After battling with McCormick, Wilson Racing’s Tim Sroka settled into second place. Colton Buck found himself rounding out the box for the first time this season.
The 2017 AMSOIL GNCC Series resumes in two weeks, April 8 and 9, with the FMF Steele Creek GNCC in Morganton, North Carolina. A highlight show featuring the Cannonball event will be air on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday, May 28 at 5:30 p.m.
For more information on the series, visit the official website at www.gnccracing.com or call (304) 284-0084.
2017 GNCC Standings
- Walker Fowler (90)
- Jarrod McClure (68)
- Brycen Neal (64)
- Chris Borich (55)
- Adam McGill (53)
- Landon Wolfe (44)
- Devon Feehan (39)
- Hunter Hart (32)
- Marty Christofferson (27)
- Tucker Wyatt (27)