Merritt, who turned 15 in August, will have a shot to defend his GNCC championship in 2009. In fact his dad, Don, says the plan is to do just that – as long as the teenager doesn’t outgrow his ECX80 this winter.
“We’ve got the perfect machine,” said the elder Merritt. “So we know what we’re doing.”
Josh Merritt closed the GNCC season with a four-race win streak. During that time he wrapped up the title, mathematically, at Power Line Park in St. Clairesville, Ohio. All totaled this season Merritt captured top honors in seven of the 12 GNCC rounds he contested – and podiumed in two more. But it wasn’t until this past weekend in Crawfordsville, Ind., at the final GNCC round that the championship set in for Cobra’s top ATV racer.
“My dad told me after Ohio that we’d won the overall title, but I just didn’t believe it,” said Josh. “But when he finally convinced me that I did, I was able to relax and have fun at the final round – which was good because it was the worst mud race we had all year. I was even thinking of doing a wheelie or burnout when I crossed the finish line to celebrate the championship, but I couldn’t because the quad was caked in mud and weighed like a ton.”
Josh’s 1st place effort wasn’t without a bit of drama early, though, as on the first lap – right at the finish line – he landed on a rock and broke the plastic chain guide to the point where it was impeding the movement of the chain. Could have been a ‘race over’ moment had it not been for a quick-thinking dad, and a spectator who just happened to be holding a key tool.
“Somebody in the crowd had a hammer, so I just beat on the plastic guide until it broke free of the chain,” said Don Merritt. “Beat on it until it broke in half, then we finished the race with no chain guide.”
“Hmmm…that’s not in our ECX80 owner’s manual, is it?,” questioned Cobra President Sean Hilbert with a laugh. “Of course not. In the GNCCs it’s finish at all costs and anything goes!”
Josh Merritt’s title is his first-ever in major AMA ATV racing. He’s raced dirt bike motocross a bit in the past, but really has caught on to this ATV racing deal in the last several years. “Everyone at Cobra’s awful proud of Josh, Don and the rest of the Merritt family on their great team accomplishment,” added Hilbert. “We’re hoping to keep Josh aboard with the program next year, but understand that he might beef up in size and have to move up to the next class. We’ll either welcome him back on a Cobra or cheer for him as an ex-Cobra champion.”
Again, the overall plan according to Don Merritt is to defend their title. He’s pumped with the Cobra ECX80 and hopes they can make another run at it in ’09. “Realistically, the only thing we did to the Cobra was put a new engine in it – the Cobra 80cc engine,” said Don Merritt, of their upgrade from the 70cc to 80cc motor for the GNCCs. “A couple modifications for GNCC-style racing (vs. motocross) and that was it. I told all the other parents ‘The best thing you can do is not do much with this quad.’ Josh pulled every holeshot this year on a stock carb and I maybe adjusted the jetting like twice.”
Cobra, founded in 1993, produces the most successful line of competition mini cycles and mini quads in the United States with more than 200 national titles in the last decade. Based out of Hillsdale, Mich., Cobra's mission is to build premium products for the serious racer. For more information on Cobra products, please visit our website at www.cobramotorcycle.com.
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