MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – The 2014 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Maxxis, an AMA National Championship, makes its return to hallowed grounds of Sunday Creek Raceway in Millfield, Ohio this weekend, June 7 and 8, for the 25th running of the Wiseco John Penton GNCC.
This event pays tribute to John Penton, one of the pioneers of the motorcycle industry. Through a partnership with KTM, Penton is responsible for helping create the lightweight, off-road specific motorcycles widely used today. Penton also partnered with ski boot manufacturer, Alpinestars to create the Hi-Point boots brand, which were a staple of footwear through the 60s and 70s.
The XC1 Pro Class Championship has seen a close battle between Factory FMF/KTM teammates Charlie Mullins and Kailub Russell, who have exchanged race-wins throughout the season. Through the first seven rounds, Mullins and Russell have been the only riders to claim overall wins this season. Heading into the eighth round this Sunday, the 2011 GNCC Champion Mullins holds the points lead in the XC1 Pro class but his championship hopes have unfortunately been diminished. According to an official release by Mullins’ Factory FMF/KTM team, “Mullins underwent surgery to pin the dislocated right wrist and ligaments that were damaged in the crash. Mullins will remain in a cast until early August at which time he will have the pins removed. He will be released to ride shortly after that and hopes to make a return to racing in September.”
This puts all attention on Russell, the reigning GNCC champion, who sits only seven points behind Mullins in the championship standings. Russell claimed the overall win at last year’s John Penton GNCC and as an added confidence booster, the Ohio native is fresh off his fourth win of the season at the previous round.
Rocky Mountain ATV*MC/N-Fab AmPro Yamaha’s Josh Strang sits third in the championship standings, where the Australian native looks to secure his first victory of the season this Sunday. Strang landed on the podium at the previous round in a true come-from-behind fashion, passing fellow N-Fab AmPro Yamaha rider Jordan Ashburn in the final turn to steal third place. Strang has not claimed a GNCC overall win since 2011, and he has never won an overall at the John Penton. However, the 2010 GNCC Champion has shown the speed and consistency needed to capture a spot in the center of the podium.
Ashburn holds fourth place in the championship standings heading into round 8 of the 13-race championship series. After narrowly missing the podium at the previous round, Ashburn will be looking for his second podium appearance of the season this weekend.
Another N-Fab AmPro Yamaha rider, and two-time GNCC champ Paul Whibley, currently sits back in fifth overall in the championship standings. Whibley holds the record for most overall wins at the John Penton, having logged four wins in his career. While the New Zealand native has had some tough luck in the form of injury this season, he can never be counted out, especially at a venue where he’s seen much success.
RideMPS.com/AMSOIL/Honda rider Thad DuVall will make his return to the XC1 Pro Class this Sunday. DuVall sustained a shoulder injury at round six and was unable to finish the race. The West Virginia native sat out the next round in his home state and plans to make his return this weekend in Ohio.
KTM Support rider Grant Baylor currently sits sixth in the overall standings and second place in the XC2 Pro Lites class, where he continues to battle with Raines Riding University/Atlas Cycles’ Ricky Russell for the title. Russell reclaimed the XC2 Pro Lites points lead after a dominating win at the previous round, where he now holds a six-point lead over the young Baylor. XC2 Pro Lites rookie Trevor Bollinger holds the third place spot in the class with consistent podium finishes and one victory thus far.
Factory FMF/KTM’s Kacy Martinez continues to hold the top of the WXC class point standings with Ohio rider Mandi Mastin in the second place position. N-Fab AmPro Yamaha rider Becca Sheets rounds out the top three in the class.
Youth bike racing will take place Sunday at 8 a.m., followed by amateurs and Women at 10 a.m., while the top amateurs and pros race at 1 p.m. Local racers are invited to compete at this event, as GNCC Racing offers classes for riders of all skill and experience levels. The amateur racer entry fee is $40 and riders can sign up at the track.
Adult (12+) gate admission is $20 for the full weekend and $10 for kids (6-11). Kids five and under are free. All admission includes pro pit access.
Tune into RacerTV.com on Saturday at 1 p.m. EST to catch LIVE coverage of the Pro Bike race at Round 8. For more information on GNCC Live coverage, visit www.racertv.com.