GNCC Racing

Quick Fill #38: This Week in GNCC

Quick Fill #38: This Week in GNCC

Thursday, October 18, 2018 | 1:25 PM
Thursday, October 18, 2018 | 1:25 PM

Welcome to Quick Fill. 

It’s hard to believe but there is now just one round remaining in the 2018 GNCC Racing season. Time truly does fly when you’re having fun, and if the speed this season has gone by is any indication, then we’ve obviously had a lot of fun. With the penultimate round at Powerline Park in the books, we’re now looking ahead to the biggest one of them all when we head to Crawfordsville, Indiana next weekend for the Ironman. 

Throughout its 24-year history on the GNCC schedule, Ironman has grown to become the biggest and most popular GNCC event of the season. With a huge turnout of racers and spectators alike the fun trails, perfect soil and a carnival-like atmosphere makes it pretty obvious why many people call this their favorite event of the year. With even more vendors and visitors from across the industry attending this round, that carnival-like atmosphere I mentioned is increased even more as it’s really cool to see some folks who don’t make it to very many GNCC events. 

This year promises to be even bigger as the event now has two top-notch concerts to make your Ironman experience even better. Friday night will see The Davisson Brothers Band take to the stage and these guys are no strangers to the GNCC crowd as they’ve played a number of GNCC events over the years. Things get even more exciting Saturday night as one of country music’s top artists, Easton Corbin, will be performing to the Ironman crowd. Naturally, both of these concerts are included with your regular weekend admission so not only do you get to enjoy a weekend full of GNCC Racing action, you’ll also get two awesome concerts as well! 

On top of all this, we’re once again making Ironman our annual “pink race” for Breast Cancer Awareness. This has been very successful over the years and we hope this year brings more of the same. So make sure you pack your pink attire when you head to Ironman and if you’re racing, our friends at HBD Moto Grafx have pink numberplates available and will be donating portions of the proceeds. Also, if you’re a racer looking for some pink gear, don’t forget that our friends at Moose Racing have produced a few sets of year with some pink accents. Visit your local Parts Unlimited dealer, or check out our friends at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC to order some today. 

If you’re racing Ironman, then you probably already know that you’re in for a real treat. We’ll have the low-down on the racecourse in next week’s edition of Quick Fill, as we’ll be knee-deep in work getting the track set up. Obviously we won’t have a definite plan on track layout until next week but the plan is to run the course the same direction we have the past couple of years, which puts you going the correct direction on the motocross track, but we’re able to hook together a few sections of trail differently. 

This is pretty cool because it mixes things up and gives it a different feel from last year’s course and you’re still able to run the motocross track the correct direction. Obviously we’ll also be able to work in the popular sections of trail that we use just about every year, including the really cool up and down gorges that we use for the 1PM races. Still, this is all subject to change so make sure you check back next week for the final low-down on the track layout. 

That’s going to do it for the intro this week. We hope you enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you next week! 

Walker Fowler wrapped up his fourth consecutive ATV National Championship at Powerline Park.
Walker Fowler wrapped up his fourth consecutive ATV National Championship at Powerline Park. Ken Hill

Catching Up With Ken (Ken Hill)

How can you not open this week’s contribution to Quick Fill without offering up huge congratulations to Kailub Russell and Walker Fowler for wrapping up their championships! These two riders gave us a ton of excitement all season long and neither had a run away season, which kept the fans dialed in to see who was going to come out on top every round. Kailub had quite a fight this season with Thad Duvall and I fully expect these two to draw down on each other again in 2019 and provide us with some of that good stuff that makes for good racing and stories that push us all to be there, tune in or read all about what went down lap after lap and round after round. 

Fowler on the other hand did not have just one rider pushing him this season, he faced multiple riders who did all they could to put the champ somewhere other than center stage on the box! I think the big question is going to be if Cole Richardson can start the 2019 season like he finished this season and if so, Fowler better bring his A game to every round or we could see one of the closest racing seasons in the XC1 Pro class in years! 

And who could forget the ladies of the WXC? Another congratulations go to Traci Pickens and Tayla Jones for securing their championships as well. I wasn’t able to follow Tayla as closely this season simply due to Sunday's being a blur of action, however she just seems to crank it up, let it go and fights her way to the front. I think she has also helped Becca Sheets to push herself and step up her game as well. Becca has been riding extremely well and this pair could find themselves in their own duel again 2019 with an even closer margin in the points battle. Traci Pickens is a slick one, and this season I think she took her experience and confidence and just did what she needed to do quietly. If she didn’t get a good start, she methodically worked her way through the class and when the roost settled there she was taking a win or podium which landed her an 11th WXC championship! Anyone who thinks the WXC class is short on excitement or talent needs to get out there and catch all of these ladies in action! 

There was also another championship crowned at Powerline. 4x4 Pro was once again on the track and running hard during their two-hour race. Landon Wolfe took the win but it was Kevin Cunningham locking down another number one plate, so a hearty backslap to him and his team for another successful year. This class also has some serious eyes on it for the 2019 season after Wolfe has been able to find his groove and take a few wins of his own. So who will it be in 2019? I have no idea but cant wait to see it all go down! 

Unfortunately, from a photographer’s standpoint, the last two rounds have been a bit of a letdown. The racing was great at both rounds, but for shooting, they just had poor light and once everyone has been coated in a nice layer of the same color mud it turns into a monotone mess! I am asking Chuck LeMaster, our series chaplain, to offer up a prayer for great conditions at the final round please! I don’t need sun but some brightness would go a long way. 

So now we look ahead to the final round, which is usually a ton of fun and yet somber at the same time, as we all know this wraps up another season. The weather can be brutal or sublime at this round and Indiana has been smack dab in the middle of this years nutty weather pattern so who knows what we will be greeted with! More on that race next week as I cut this off and get back to sitting in a tree. As always, be safe in all you do and may God bless you all! 

The hunt for the XC2 title is coming down to the wire! 
The hunt for the XC2 title is coming down to the wire!  Ken Hill

Championships Wrapping Up! (Jared Bolton)

It comes as no surprise that Powerline Park once again brought us a number of championships coming to a close. From a racer’s standpoint, it’s always nice to wrap up a title a round early. While it definitely is a bit of a bummer from a spectator’s standpoint, who would love to see it all come down to the wire, it’s still pretty special to see a championship wrapped up. It gives the racer a sigh of relief and as seen several times in the past, it’s also a chance to take a break. 

Two years ago Walker Fowler wrapped up his title early and sat out Ironman to help heal from a hard crash he suffered at a local race the week before. This year, Kailub Russell will sit out Ironman as he undergoes shoulder surgery today to fix some nagging injuries. With Kailub out, all eyes will be on Thad Duvall as he’s the hands down favorite to claim the win next Sunday. Of course, there are still a few challengers who will be looking to claim race wins of their own. Steward and Grant Baylor have both been fairly successful this season and will be looking to contend for the win. 

Additionally, Trevor Bollinger will be looking to rebound from the past two rounds where he’s finished outside the top five. While two eighth place finishes are very respectable, Trevor is ultimately looking to finish a bit higher. You also can’t forget 2010 champ, Josh Strang, whose season may not have gone the way he wanted but two XC1 podiums and five additional top five finishes is pretty good. Regardless, Strang is looking for more and will be hungry to contend for a win at Ironman. 

As for Kailub, he can breathe that sigh of relief I mentioned and not worry about having to fight through a nagging injury to claim the title. When Kailub wrapped it up last weekend it made him the first bike rider to ever claim six National Championships in a row. Ed Lojak held the previous record of five consecutive titles from 1980-1984 but Lojak still holds the record for most titles with nine as he won four more titles from 1986-1989. This means Kailub would have to claim three more titles to tie Lojak and four more to break his record. This isn’t an impossible feat but there’s no doubt that it won’t come easy. Not only has Thad Duvall upped his game but also there are some strong, young contenders coming out of the XC2 class that will be looking to challenge the XC1 contenders in the coming years. 

Speaking of those contenders, there’s still a battle for the XC2 class title as well. Ben Kelley and Josh Toth have swapped wins back and forth multiple times this season and Kelley has broke onto the overall podium in the previous two rounds. However, the title chase would be much tighter but an injury at the Georgia round left Toth scoring zero points. Regardless, these two are on fire, which is pretty impressive as it was just two years ago that they made their first-ever full-season attempt at GNCC Racing. 

Kelley holds a 23-point lead and while that’s a fairly comfortable lead, he still needs to stay on top of his game at Ironman and here’s where things get interesting. If Toth were to win Ironman, that gives him a total of 305 points. Kelley needs to finish 13th or better to take the championship. If he were to finish 14th, he would tie with Toth and provided that Toth were to claim that Ironman win, they would be tied with six wins each. That means the tiebreaker would come down to second place finishes where Toth would have a total of five second place finishes compared to Kelley’s four. 

Naturally, the chances of it playing out exactly like that are very slim. We average right around 26 riders per round in the XC2 class. If you take that average, finishing exactly 14th out of 26 riders is only a 3.70% chance. However, still using that 26-rider average, finishing worse than 13th and thereby losing the championship is actually a 66.67% chance. Of course those odds aren’t completely applicable in the world of GNCC Racing because there are many, many factors that go into determining the outcome of the race. What those odds do mean though, is that Toth still has a shot and Kelley definitely needs to keep doing what he’s been doing all season.

We also saw the FMF XC3 class wrap up at Powerline Park with Jesse Ansley emerging as the second-ever XC3 class champion. These guys put on a great show all season with four different riders claiming race wins but Ansley was Mr. Consistent and was able to claim the title. Alex Teagarden was also very strong this season but a few issues here and there kept him in the second place spot. Jason Raines and Cody Barnes battled back and forth for the third place spot but a late season injury dropped Raines to fourth. There’s also been a newcomer in the previous two-rounds as former XC2 competitor, Zach Nolan, switched to a 125 and has landed two XC3 class podiums in the past two rounds. 

With just one round to go, there are many riders in many classes who are looking to end the season on a high note. Undoubtedly, Ironman will be a pretty interesting event to watch unfold. Don’t miss out, it’s going to be a good one!