LaFayette, TN - In a series packed with talent, few expected anyone to launch a big win streak in the 2009 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series. But FMF Makita Suzuki's Josh Strang has seized control of the tour by snagging three-straight wins, helping complete a remarkable comeback by taking over the GNCC points lead despite running out of gas at the season opener in Florida.
Strang hopes to keep his streak alive at this weekend's inaugural Weekend Warrior Titan GNCC, because Geico/JG Racing Monster Kawasaki's Paul Whibley and Strang's teammate Charlie Mullins are both just two points behind heading into the weekend. And the new track means new challenges for the front-runners as they traverse uncharted territory.
The track is perfect for GNCC Racing, with just enough elevation change in the woods to keep the course interesting. Soil conditions will be similar to the GNCC at Loretta Lynn Ranch, with plenty of small shale rock mixed into the clay. The rocks are small and will come in handy if the course takes on any rain, because the rocky base will let water run off instead of soak in.
Several riders had problems enough in the rain and mud at Loretta's. Bike problems set in for Whibley, who broke a chain, the Shock Doctor KTMs of Nate Kanney and Kurt Caselli, and Am-Pro FMF Yamaha's Thad DuVall.If the riders fare the same for the Titan GNCC, the point standings could widen further. Even Strang is saying there is still "a long way to go."
The Loretta Lynn Ranch race was encouraging for a few riders, including Yamaha's Barry Hawk, who scored a season-best fourth place at Loretta's, with Husqvarna's Glenn Kearney similarly taking his season-best with a fifth.
The XC2 class for 250cc four-stroke bikes has even been pressuring the XC1 Pro class. At Loretta's, GEICO/Monster Energy Kawaskai's Scott Watkins and Shock Doctor KTM's Kailub Russell held the overall lead at various points, and Watkins emerged as the winner. Russell lost time in the pits cleaning out his eyes, opening the door for his teammate Cory Buttrick, who later ran into bike troubles. Monster Energy/Andrew's Yamaha's Jason Thomas moved into third by the end of the first lap. Later, he took over the second spot from Russell.
Russell still has a wide lead in the point standings, 24 points ahead of Buttrick and 39 points ahead of Thomas with Watkins just one point behind him.
Spectator passes run $15 for the full weekend, with pro pit access and pro autographs at no additional charge. On both Saturday and Sunday, 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, from Interstate 65, take exit 117 to Hwy 52 east 20 miles through Portland and Westmoreland. Left on Leath Branch Rd and straight across Old Hwy 52. Leath Branch becomes Rocky Mound Rd. and it's 3 miles to the track on the 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 1973, 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.
About Racer Productions
A West Virginia-based motorcycle and ATV event production company, Racer Productions has been a leader in the off-road racing industry for more than 30 years. It's repertoire of facilities and events includes the 13-round Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series, since 1973; professional and amateur national events at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania, since 1977; and professional and amateur ATV events at Loretta Lynn's Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. For more information, please visit www.racerproductions.com.