Yadkinville, NC - GEICO/JG Racing Monster Kawasaki's Paul Whibley made a huge stride towards clinching this year's Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series Championship when he grabbed another win two weeks ago at the Can-Am Unadilla GNCC. While Whibley, FMF Makita Suzuki's Josh Strang and Charlie Mullins have stayed tight in the point standings the entire season, as the calendar winds down to the Ironman GNCC finale in October, Whibley has begun to pull away and sits in the points lead.This weekend, they take on the Moose Racing Yadkin Valley Stomp in Yadkinville,N.C.
Strang's fifth place finish at Unadilla hurt him in the points and he is now almost an entire race lead away from Whibley. With only three rounds left it could be hard for Strang to pull off an upset. However, if Strang were able to win the last three rounds, and Whibley finished third or worse in each event, the duo would tie for the title, and Strang would pull of the championship based on his number of wins. Strang is the only rider in the XC1 class that has been able to pull off a three- race win streak this year and despite his average showing at Unadilla, Strang still says the last few tracks suit him better than the other riders.
Another dynamic thrown into the championship mix is the number of riders who have seen their best races the last few rounds. Mullins is only two points behind Strang and could either take the second place away in the standings or help Strang throw a wrench in Kawasaki's plans for the championship. Certianly Suzuki will position their duo to help win the title, but Whibley will have his own help with his teammate Jimmy Jarrett. Other riders that could get between the top three are Shock Doctor KTM's Nate Kanney and Kurt Casselli, who have both been surging lately. Kanney has been on the podium the last two races. Casselli made the podium for the first time this season at Unadilla and returned to victory lane at a race in California last weekend. Confidence is beginning to build for both riders, who will team up on the U.S. ISDE Trophy Team in just a few weeks.
Am-Pro Yamaha's Barry Hawk, who is seventh in the point standings, has had a consistent year outside of two bad races. And then there's "Bad" Thad Duvall. While the Am-Pro Yamaha rider has seen multiple rough races in his rookie 450 season, there is always the potential that he could throw out a podium or win before the season ends. No one doubt's DuVall's speed.
As a final potential shake-up in the series, should Shock Doctor KTM's Kailub Russell tie up the XC2 Lites championship this weekend, he will move to XC1 for the final two rounds. While it has been a few races since Russell has been able to run with the XC1 riders on overall time, he has gotten in the overall lead earlir in the season on time adjustments. Could he also be another rider ready to shake up the championship?
Russell has taken the XC2 class by storm, winning seven rounds in all. He is now 59 points ahead of his teammate Cory Buttrick. Next in line in the point standings is Monster Energy Andrews Yamaha's Jason Thomas who took home the MotorcycleUSA.com Snowshoe GNCC win. If Russell is able to extend his points lead to 60 or more at the conclusion of this weekend's race, he will clinch his first XC2 Pro Lites Championship.
Bikes race on Sunday in Yadkinville, a tight, twisting track featuring three famous obstacles: "The House," where the riders actually ride through an abandoned home; "The Creek Jump," which launches riders over water; and the "The Tunnel," where riders wade through a culvert pipe filled with seat-deep water. The pro bike race runs for three hours and begins at 1 p.m.
To get to the track: I-77 to Exit 73A to Highway 421 South. Go 10 miles to Exit 256, Unifi Industrial Road. Turn left, go 1.2 miles to end of road. Turn right on old US-421. Go 2/10 mile, turn left on Myers Rd. Go 1 mile, race track is on left.
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.