Morgantown, W. Va. - FMF Makita Suzuki's Josh Strang has found himself back in a familiar position as the defending champion extended his points lead over FMF KTM's Charlie Mullins following the last round of racing. Red number in tow, the Aussie is one step closer to defending his title in 2011. Mullins has been a fierce competitor all season long, making for an epic battle-in-the-making as the first half of the 2011 season wraps up this weekend in Millfield, Ohio.
This weekend's Wiseco John Penton will mark the halfway point of the 2011 season, leaving much of the speculation yet to be answered on the course. Historically known for its unpredictable weather and inevitably variable course conditions, the Penton offers up a little bit of everything for racers - including a motocross section, plenty of trails through the woods and of course, mud and hill climbs.
FMF KTM's Cory Buttrick took the win at last year's John Penton and there's a good chance the Ohio native could contest his first win of the season at his home track this weekend. Another familiar face will be FMF KTM's Kailub Russell, also hailing from the Buckeye State. Russell is fresh on the XC1 circuit this year but currently sits sixth in points behind teammate Buttrick with a handful of top five finishes. The young rider has been a top five contender more times than not this season.
Whibley, Strang and Mullins each embrace two wins, although AmPro Yamaha's Paul Whibley still sits 34 points back from the leader. After a rough season-opener in Florida, Whibley has been consistently finishing near the top five, giving him a solid 22 point lead over WMR Planet Fitness KTM's Nate Kanney, who nabbed his first podium of the year at round 8 two weeks ago.
Steward Baylor Jr. captured his first Overall podium at Snowshoe, furthermore extending his lead over F.A.R Husqvarna's Jason Thomas in the XC2 division. Baylor has taken all but two XC2 class wins, setting his sights now on additional Overall podium finishes.
This weekend's event will host round one of a three-race 50cc bike series, co-sanctioned with our friends at the AMA Northeast Hare Scrambles (NEHS). The 50cc bike race will take place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, following the afternoon ATV race. Transponders are required and racers may sign up at the event.
Spectator passes run $15 for the full weekend, with pro pit access and pro autographs at no additional charge. On Sunday, bike youth riders race at 8 a.m., beginner riders race at 10 a.m., and the top amateurs and the pros race at 1 p.m.
To get to the track, take 33 West 1.5 miles to 13 North (Chauncey exit). Go 3 miles into Chauncey. Turn right staying on Route 13 North. Continue for 10 miles to Jacksonville. Go right on Sixth St. for 2 miles, and then turn left.
For more information, check out the official series website at www.GNCCRacing.com or call 304-284-0084.
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 1,500 riders through tracks ranging in length from eight to 12 miles. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. Riders compete for more than $3 million in prize money, which draws talent from all over the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand. GNCC Racing is televised and airs every week on the Versus Network. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com.