Win ties Fowler with Borich in GNCC points chase
To call Walker Fowler’s sixth victory of the 2014 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series a big one is not doing it justice. After picking up the win at the ITP Powerline Park GNCC, Fowler is now tied with five-time GNCC champion Chris Borich in the chase for the XC1 championship with just one round remaining.
Although it was Brent Sturdivant who led the early portion of the race after capturing his first-ever $250 Twin Air/DeRisi Racing XC1 Holeshot Award, Fowler and Borich found their way to the front by the end of the opening lap. The lead duo set a blistering pace early on, where they opened up a two-minute gap on third place by the second lap.
XC1 Pro class rookies Brycen Neal and Jay Shadron settled into the top five, engaging in a battle of their own early on. Neal put his Dave Bayless Motorsports/Dirtworks/DC Cycles machine into third on the second lap, while Waynesburg Yamaha/GBC’s Shadron chased close behind.
After getting off to a not-so-favorable start, RacingPowersports.com/CST Tires/PirateMX.com’s Adam McGill pushed his way into the top five by the second lap, but it wasn’t without a few struggles along the way.
“I think the cold weather took a toll on the start button,” McGill said. “Once I finally got going and caught up, I got stuck against a tree and went right to the back of the pack again.”
However, that didn’t stop the West Virginia native, who secured the win at Snowshoe, which is considered the toughest race on the GNCC circuit earlier in the year. McGill fought back to third, where he set his sights on Borich and Fowler ahead.
Fowler and Borich were inseparable throughout the first half of the four-lap race but things slowly began to fall apart for the defending champ around the halfway point when he was forced to remove his goggles due to the muddy conditions.
“I was ripping there at the beginning but I had to take the goggles off and ended up getting my contact ripped out,” Borich said.
From there, Borich dropped his pace substantially and Fowler was able to create a comfortable gap out front. As Borich dropped back, McGill continued to push ahead where he closed the gap from over two minutes to 57 seconds behind Borich to finish an impressive third overall for the day.
“Even if it was the worst day ever, you can’t quit and you can’t give up,” McGill said. “I just put my head down, got some fresh goggles and went for it. With two weeks until Ironman, it’s on baby!”
Despite issues with his vision, Borich was able to salvage valuable points with second place overall.
“I’m just thankful to get a second today,” Borich said. “No excuses, just some bad luck the last few races but Walker is riding really well, so hats off to him.”
Fowler maintained his composure throughout the entire two-hour race to secure his fifth win in the last six rounds. Fowler’s victory not only tied up the championship points, but it was perhaps a breakthrough in the young racer’s career as the first big shake up in the XC1 ATV championship in over two decades of GNCC Racing.
“I don’t even know what to think or say,” Fowler said. “I’ve had so much fun this season. I went back to grassroots, I’m having the best races of my life and it’s coming at the right time. We’re riding this train all the way to Ironman, I can tell you that!”
DWT Racing’s Jarrod McClure came from outside the top 10 to capture fourth overall for the day, followed by Shadron in fifth, Neal in sixth and BNR Motorsports/Loctite’s Kevin Yoho in seventh. Braden Henthorn finished eighth in XC1, while Josh Merritt took ninth and Brent Sturdivant rounded out the top 10 in XC1.
In the XC2 Pro Am division, SICC Racing/Maxxis-backed Marshal Goings came into the penultimate round with a five-point deficit behind N-Fab AmPro Yamaha/Lonestar/Maxxis/MXP’s Cole Richardson in the championship standings. Picking up where they left off at the last round, Goings and Richardson engaged in an exciting battle for the lead at Powerline Park, switching back and forth all afternoon. It all came down to the final moments of the two-hour race, where Richardson appeared to have the win. However, the Yamaha rider got stuck behind a lapped rider and Goings immediately capitalized, making the pass in the final corners before the finish.
With the points all tied up, the XC2 Pro Am championship will come down to the final round of racing in Indiana, where Goings looks to use the advantage of his hometown fans to secure a third straight win. But it won’t be without a fight from Richardson, who still holds the most wins of the season with seven total.
SICC Racing’s Fred Marley made his return to the XC2 Pro Am podium with a solid third place finish in the class. Marley’s solid podium finish gives him fifth place in the championship standings.
New York’s Marty Christofferson started the afternoon off well, grabbing the $100 All Balls Racing XC2 Holeshot Award and running second throughout the first couple of laps. However, Christofferson ran into a mechanical issue that ultimately took him out of the race.
Vet A (28+) class winner Matt Pierce grabbed the Top Amateur honors, finishing 17th overall for the day, just edging out the previous round’s top amateur Kenny Shick.
Mid-State Chevrolet’s Westley Wolfe captured his second $125 GT Thunder Amateur Overall of the season amidst an array of weather conditions throughout the 10 a.m. race. Wolfe’s overall victory also gives the Maryland native another win in the Schoolboy A/B (13-15)
ATV Parts Plus/Can-Am’s Bryan Buckhannon captured a big win in the 4×4 Pro class on Saturday, extending his points lead to 23 over Can-Am X-Team’s Kevin Trantham with one round to go. The lead duo battled back and fourth all race long but in the end, it was Buckhannon who came out ahead, only six seconds ahead of Trantham, as they landed second and third place on the overall podium.
In the WXC class, 2013 Women’s Class Champion Kylie Ahart captured the win, but it was the second place finisher of Angel Knox who wrapped up the 2014 WXC title. Quincy Cunningham rounded out the WXC podium at round 12.
In the Youth division, it was Florida’s Brandon Frazier who captured the victory after a close battle with Pennsylvania’s Timmy Sroka for the lead position. Sroka led the way into the final lap of racing but once he got tangled with a lapped rider, Frazier was able to capitalize and push his way to the front. South Carolina’s Blaise Cooke made his first-ever appearance atop the overall podium with a third place finish in the 90 Open (12-15) class, as well as third place in the overall running.
In Side-by-Side racing, Team Can-Am Chaney Racing extended their championship points lead with a third consecutive win in the XC1 Modified class. Led by Ohio native Kyle Chaney, the duo came through the pack from outside the top five and put themselves into the lead by lap three. John Yokley and his Big Country Powersports Polaris team put in a hard fight for second, while William Yokley and the Polaris National Guard team rounded out the top three.
The 2014 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series will head to Crawfordsville, Indiana on Oct. 24 and 25 for the AMSOIL Ironman GNCC.