Snowshoe, W. Va -FMF/Makita Suzuki's Josh Strang claimed the $5,000 top prize at this year's Motosport.com Snowshoe GNCC by taking a narrow victory over WMR Off-road/Clockwork/FMF/Planet Fitness KTM's Nate Kanney after an exciting, race-long battle in what turned out to be an extremely difficult event.
Heading into the fifth and final lap, the lead group consisted of Baylor, Mullins, Strang, and Kanney, however, Mullins and Baylor got stuck part way into the lap, leaving Kanney with the lead and Strang in second.
Near the end of the final lap, Strang got by Kanney in a mud hole and managed to stay out of trouble for the rest of the race. At the finish, Strang edged Kanney by just two seconds to take the win.
Kanney, who was the 2010 Snowshoe winner, was hoping to capitalize on a late mistake by Strang, but the opportunity never presented itself.
"On the last lap, I knew Strang was there and I knew he was going to be strong and I didn't really want to be leading at that point - it's not necessarily good to be leading here on the last lap," said Kanney. "So I thought if Strang passed me I was going to let him have it let him take all the risk. After he went around me we put the hammer down and we got through everything clean. He got really close to getting stuck in one place but he didn't, and after that I never had a chance to catch him."
With the win, Strang extended his lead in the 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Series to 11 points over Mullins, who ended the day in third.
Fourth in the XC1 division went to Mead, a New Zealand native who just recently moved to the States to give the GNCC series a try. Meanwhile, fifth went to fellow Kiwi Paul Whibley, who threw his chain several times over the course of the race.
Cory Buttrick put his FMF/KTM into eighth, ahead DuVall and KTM rider Kenny Gilbert.
Each year the Snowshoe GNCC awards a generous overall purse, which this year was courtesy of St. Lawrence Radiology Group and Friends of Coal.
After challenging for the overall win, Stu Baylor ended the day third in the overall standings and he won the XC2 division, his fourth class win of the year.
"It was crazy out there," said Baylor. "I just kept pushing and found myself in the overall on the last lap, and about miles from the end I made a mistake in a mud hole and my glove was covered in mud and I just couldn't hold on and I just kept dropping back. But I knew I was winning my class and I just held on."
After nearly winning the overall last year, WP/RidePG KTM rider Jesse Robinson settled for second in the XC2 division this year.
"Just making it through this race with your bike in one piece is a plus," said Robinson. "There was nothing pretty about my ride, I just held on to the handle bars and took it to the finish."
Rounding out the podium was Pennsylvania KTM rider Andrew DeLong, who struggled with suspension problems for most of the day.
Zachery Smith was sixth on a KTM, with FAR Husqvarna's Morgan Moss nailing down the seventh position.
Justin Williamson (KTM), AJ Stewart (Yam) and Peter Weiss (Yam) rounded out the top 10.
In the A.M. race, six-time National Hare Scrambles Champ Jason Raines (Yam) battled with Brandon Higgins for most of the race, but came on strong to take the overall and Sportsman A class wins.
Randall Riggs (Yam) topped David Fallas (KTM) and Adam Cable (Yam) to win the Masters A (50+) class, while Maria Forsberg (KTM) beat out Nina Cobb (Hon) and Dawn Silvia (KTM) to take the Women's class win.
In the Youth race, Gary Myers (Yam) edged Anthony Stone (KTM) to win the overall and the Super Mini (14-15) division.
Austin Lee (KTM) was third overall and first in the Super Mini (12-13) class.
The 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series heads to Millfield, Ohio for the Wiseco John Penton GNCC on July 9 & 10. ATV racing will take place on Saturday, followed by bike racing on Sunday. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com.
1. Josh Strang (Suz)
2. Nate Kanney (KTM)
3. Charlie Mullins (KTM)
4. Rory Mead (Hon)
5. Paul Whibley (Yam)
6. Kailub Russell (KTM)
7. Nick Fahringer (Hsb)
8. Cory Buttrick (KTM)
9. Thad DuVall (Yam)
10. Kenny Gilbert (KTM)
1. Josh Strang (153/2 wins)
2. Charlie Mullins (142/2 wins)
3. Paul Whibley (119/2 wins)
4. Nate Kanney (97)
5. Cory Buttrick (94)
6. Kailub Russell (84)
7. Chris Bach (72)
8. Mike Lafferty (64)
9. Jimmy Jarrett (53)
10. Garrett Edmisten (46)
1. Steward Baylor Jr. (KTM)
2. Jesse Robinson (KTM)
3. Andrew DeLong (KTM)
4. Zack Nolan (KTM)
5. Scotty Watkins (Hon)
6. Zachery Smith (KTM)
7. Morgan Moss (Hsq)
8. Justin Williamson (KTM)
9. AJ Stewart (Yam)
10. Peter Weiss (Yam)
1. Steward Baylor Jr. (151/4 wins)
2. Jason Thomas (117/1 win)
3. Andrew DeLong (112)
4. Jesse Robinson (102/1 win)
5. Brad Bakken (90)
6. Scotty Watkins (85)
7. Jordan Ashburn (81)
8. Morgan Moss (71)
9. Shane O/Banion (69)
10. Zachery Smith (63)
About GNCC Racing:
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series is America's premier off-road racing series. Founded in 1979, the 13-round championship is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The grueling three-hour GNCC races lead as many as 1,800 riders through tracks ranging in length from eight to 12 miles, competing for more than $3 million in prizes. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com.