Fowler only five points behind Borich with two rounds to go
Walker Fowler (N-Fab AmPro Yamaha) picked up his fourth win of the season at the Car-Mate Mountain Ridge GNCC, the 11th round of the 2014 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series, bringing him within five points of Chris Borich’s National Championship lead with two rounds remaining.
As the green flag dropped for XC1 Pro ATV racing, it was RacingPowersports.com/CST Tires/PirateMX.com’s Adam McGill who claimed the $250 Twin Air/DeRisi Racing XC1 Holeshot Award and led the pack into the opening lap of racing. The track conditions were very dusty so McGill’s holeshot allowed him to pull away from the group on the first lap, but Fowler was looming close behind. Fowler admittedly sat a ways back from McGill in the beginning to avoid the mass dust clouds that followed each racer.
While McGill and Fowler had put nearly one-minute on the rest of the field by the end of lap one, Dave Bayless Motorsports/Dirtworks/DC Cycles Brycen Neal assumed the third place position right away. Neal was followed by Maxxis-backed Chris Borich, who came through the first lap in fourth, as well as GT Thunder’s Brian Wolf and Precision/Maxxis Tires Chris Bithell.
Perhaps one of the most exciting moments of the race came on lap two when Fowler decided to forego his pit stop in order to take the opportunity to pass McGill without dusty conditions. However, as Fowler moved into the lead, his pit crew questioned whether or not he would make it another lap on fuel.
Meanwhile, Borich ran into a slight issue that ultimately interfered with his rear brakes, and the five-time champion was forced to come in for a brief adjustment to the rotor during his first pit stop. Things didn’t seem to improve for Borich, as he slipped back into the fifth place position pretty quickly.
Fowler was able to make it back to his pits for a successful fuel stop, where he maintained his lead ahead of McGill for the remainder of the race.
“There were a few times I wasn’t sure the ATV was going to make it any further,” Fowler said. “It was overheating from all the dust so it kept getting hot and shutting off but I just want to thank the good lord for keeping us safe and allowing us to make it through.”
Fowler is making all the right moves at exactly the right time, as he has secured four of the last five victories late in the season. Fowler’s recent hot streak has allowed him to make up a substantial amount of points on Borich’s lead in the championship standings, where the duo sits only five points apart heading into the final two rounds of the season.
While Borich holds the advantage in championship points, the five-time champ is looking to gain back some momentum in the final two rounds as he heads in with only two podium finishes in the last five rounds.
McGill’s second place finish allowed the West Virginia native to stay within striking distance of the championship battle as they head into the final rounds. XC1 Pro class rookie Brycen Neal was able to hold on for a career-best third place finish and his first appearance on the overall podium this season.
Bithell finished fourth overall for the day, followed by Borich in fifth, Wolf in sixth and Waynesburg Yamaha/GT Thunder’s Jay Shadron finished seventh. DWT Racing’s Jarrod McClure finished eighth, while GT Thunder/Maxxis/Howser Racing Josh Merritt took ninth and XC2 Pro Am winner Marshal Goings (SICC Racing/Maxxis) rounded out the top 10 overall.
Goings tightened up the XC2 Pro Am Championship after a big win at the 11th round, bringing himself within five points of N-Fab AmPro Yamaha’s Cole Richardson in the standings. After capturing the $100 All Balls Racing XC2 Holeshot Award, Richardson had a tough day in the dusty conditions, where he was forced to stop in the pits to change his air filter. The Ohio native was able to salvage points with a second place finish, where he holds the points lead heading into the final two rounds.
New York’s Marty Christofferson captured yet another solid podium finish with third place in the class, where he sits third in the championship standings.
College A (16-21) winner Kenny Shick took the Top Amateur honors, finishing 19th overall for the day.
The 4×4 Pro class swept the overall podium with BNR/Loctite/Can-Am’s Rob Smith at the head of the pack. Smith’s performance not only earned him a class-win but the Pennsylvania native also topped the entire morning overall with his second career 4×4 Pro victory. ATV Parts Plus/Can-Am’s Bryan Buckhannon finished second overall, with Factory Polaris/Team UXC Racing’s Michael Swift rounding out the top three overall. Buckhannon maintains the points lead in the 4×4 Pro class over Can-Am X-Team’s Kevin Trantham.
After stopping in the pits to swap out a header pipe, the #201 of Cody Collier put in an impressive come-from-behind performance to capture yet another win in the Schoolboy (13-15) A/B class. Collier’s 5th overall was good enough to capture the $125 GT Thunder Amateur Overall Award as the highest placing non-4×4 machine.
In the Youth division, Florida’s Brandon Frazier captured his ninth victory of the season in the 90 Open (12-15) class, marking yet another overall win at the 11th round. Pennsylvania’s Timmy Sroka finished second in the class and second overall for the day, while 125 Sr. class winner Ronnie Rusch rounded out the top three overall.
The 2014 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series will head to St. Clairsville, Ohio on Oct. 4 and 5 for the ITP Powerline Park GNCC.