MORGANTOWN, W.Va - The 2017 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) series presented by Maxxis, an AMA National Championship continues this weekend, July 8 and 9, with the 28th Annual Wiseco John Penton GNCC. This event not only pays tribute to the legendary John Penton who pioneered numerous modern advancements in the world of off-road racing, but also stands out as the longest running event on the GNCC circuit.
Coming just two weeks after the grueling AMSOIL Snowshoe GNCC, The John Penton GNCC marks the final round before the GNCC summer break. This has the potential to make for a fierce battle as numerous riders will be looking to carry the momentum of an overall win into that summer break, setting them up as a favorite when the series returns in September.
FMF/KTM Factory Racing's Kailub Russell currently leads the way in the National Championship standing, but it's been three rounds since we've seen the four-time GNCC title holder on the overall podium. As the series reaches its pinnacle point, Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing's Thad Duvall has cut the points difference to only seven. Duvall's consistent finishes have showcased that he's more than eligible to be the next champion.
Both Russell and Duvall consider The John Penton GNCC a home race, which means both riders will come into this weekend with an equal level of confidence, but with a six-race podium streak behind him, Duvall may just have what it takes to secure the points lead heading into the summer break. One thing that will be certain this weekend is no matter the outcome we are promised a great race not only between the two, but the entire pro field.
N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha's Ricky Russell will be looking to get in the mix with K Russell and Duvall. R Russell moves into the ninth round of the season after a big win at the Snowshoe GNCC. After battling with K Russell and Duvall at the last race, R Russell now has the knowledge of what it takes to run up front and will look to repeat his success this weekend in Ohio.
For the first time this season, SRT/KTM's Steward Baylor missed the podium at the last round and will be back looking for vengeance in Ohio. Beta USA's Jordan Ashburn spent the first half of the season adjusting to his new ride, but now has a few solid top-five finishes to his resume. Both Baylor and Ashburn will be challenging as podium contenders as they take off the first row in the 1 p.m. pro race.
After his season-best finish, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC/KR4/ Husqvarna's Grant Baylor improved his overall standings where he is now tied with Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing's Josh Strang for seventh overall. JCR Honda's Trevor Bollinger remains in tow, just two points behind in ninth.
N-Fab AmPro Yamaha's Josh Toth heads into this weekend with a 63-point lead over Coastal Racing/Husqvarna's Craig Delong in the XC2 250 Pro division. Toth has dominated the first half of the season winning seven out of eight races in addition to finishing second overall at Snowshoe, but Delong has been right behind him finishing on the podium at ever race but two. Delong's teammate, Layne Michael, heads into The John Penton GNCC hoping to put it all together and claim his first win of the season.
Both RPM/KTM's Mike Witkowski and Solid Performance KTM/Working Class Industries' Jesse Groemm have had a solid start to the first half of their seasons, both taking home a handful of podium finishes. Witkowski and Groemm have yet to stand in the middle of the box and they will aim to change that this Sunday.
Sunday's race schedule is as follows: youth bike racing begins at 8 a.m., followed by amateurs and women at 10 a.m. and pros and top amateurs at 1 p.m.
Adult (12+) gate admission is $20 for the full weekend and $10 for kids (6-11), with kids five and under free. Gate admission includes pro pit access and pro autographs at no additional charge.
The event is co-sanctioned with WEXCR, a series that produced local racing events across Eastern Ohio and West Virginia, and will ultimately bring out a full slate of local racers. All local riders are invited and encouraged to compete in the event, as GNCC Racing offers classes for riders of all skill and experience levels. The amateur race entry fee is $40 if racers pre-enter, and $50 if riders sign up at the track. To learn more about GNCC Racing, refer to the GNCC 101webpage.
Local racers expected to compete this Sunday will be Tanner Collins (Super Mini Sr. 14-15), Braxton Shutts (85 12-13), Collin Ghearing (Super Mini Jr. 12-13), brothers Joseph (85 12-13) and Dakota Cunningham (65 7-9), Casey Simmons (Super Mini 14-15), Blaceton Moore (85 13-13), Nick Thompson (65 7-9), Becca Sheets (WXC), Kirk Allen (Super Vet C 35+), Kevin Ganoe (Vet C 30+), Steven Young (125 B/C), Logan Mullins (250 C College 18-24), Michael Lanning (Super Senior C 45+), Mark Randolf (Silver Masters B 55+) and Nick Barnes (Senior C 40+).
For a complete schedule of the weekend's activities, please visit The Wiseco John Penton GNCC event page on the series website by clicking HERE.
Tune into RacerTV.com on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST to catch LIVE coverage of the Pro Bike race. For more information on GNCC Live coverage, visit www.racertv.com. A highlight show featuring the event will air on NBC Sports Network on Saturday, October 14 at 2:30 p.m.
For more information on the series, visit the official website at www.gnccracing.com call (304) 284-0084. Join the conversation on the series Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and be sure to always hashtag #GNCC.