Sign of the Lap  Times: Powerline Park

Sign of the Lap Times: Powerline Park

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With one of the most tightly contested XC1 championship chases in Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) history entering the home stretch, round 11 from 13 at Powerline Park in St. Clairsville, OH, was a monumental day in the series’ history on and off the track. For the first time in history fans were able to view a live stream (with audio and video) of the race from Powerline Park on GNCCRacing.com. And the fans in attendance and viewing from home were treated to some great racing from Factory FMF/KTM teammates Kailub Russell and Charlie Mullins and AmPro Yamaha’s Paul Whibley.

After 1-2 finishes at John Penton and Unadilla, respectively, Whibley had stretched his points lead to thirteen over Russell heading into Powerline Park. But Russell rose to the occasion on a cold, rainy afternoon in Ohio, winning the overall and getting help from his teammate, Mullins, who sandwiched himself between Russell and Whibley to take second. Whibley now holds a slim four-point lead in the series with just two round remaining.

For the first time all season the XC2 class has a new leader atop the food chain, as KR4 Performance's Jason Thomas won the overall at Powerline, and coupled with a fifth from defending champion Steward Baylor Jr., Thomas now a four-point lead heading into the final two rounds. Ohio native Aaron Plessinger made quite the splash in his XC2 debut with a second place finish. Andrew Delong, who is sits twelve points back of Thomas, would round out the podium.

Let’s check out the lap charts to see how it all broke down.

GNCC
XC1 Pro Class

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Rider
1 2 25:12.516 5 Charlie Mullins
2
1 25:21.266 5 Kailub Russell
3 3 25:28.500 3 Paul Whibley
4 4 25:49.922 3 Thad DuVall
5 5 25:56.766 3 Rory Mead
6 10 26:33.500 2 Nathan Kanney
7 6 26:45.603 2 Takeshi Koikeda
8
8 26:46.900 2 Jordan Ashburn
9 7 27:22.063 3 Garrett Edmisten
10 9 27:56.540 2 Jimmy Jarrett

You can see some of the strategy that wins GNCC races in the chart above. The FMF/KTM factory duo of Mullins and Russell hooked up in a battle for the win, and both saved their best stuff for a late-race push. The race ran seven laps. At the halfway point, they held about 30 seconds on third-place Whibley. Then both put the hammer down on lap five, busting out the fastest times of the day and pulling clear of the field. Mullins was able to get around Russell to lead as the final lap began, but Russell's push on the last lap allowed him to take the win.

XC2 Pro Lites Class

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Rider
1 5 25:38.360 2 Steward Baylor Jr.
2
1 25:41.281 2 Jason Thomas
3 4 26:24.031 7 Scott Grills
4 2 26:28.250 2 Aaron Plessinger
5 6 26:34.187 7 Jedediah Haines
6 18 26:37.703 2 Nick Davis
7 11 26:48.469 2 Brad Bakken
8
3 26:53.297 8 Andrew Delong
9 20 26:57.719 2 Morgan Moss
10 8 26:59.032 2 Zach Nolan

Things often break down differently in the Lites class, where riders pin it off the start. Note how just about everyone logged their fastest laps early in this one. Often the XC2 riders actually move into contention for the overall win (on adjusted time--in GNCC Racing, the pro, A and B classes are out on the track at the same time) early, but then the final spring of the XC1 riders pulls away late in the game. And that's what happened over the weekend in Ohio.

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Charlie Mullins (left) Kailub Russell (center) and Paul Whibley (right) would round out the XC1 podium at Powerline Park.
Krista Hooper / Digitaloffroad.com photo

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