Phoenix Racing Honda Team Takes Two Wins at Florida GNCC Opener
Noah Mickelson & Grayson Eller both Win
Salisbury, NC (3/13/2019) – Phoenix Racing Honda riders Grayson Eller and Noah Mickelson won their respective ATV classes during the GNCC opener at Hogwaller in Palatka, FL. Eller scored his first career GNCC victory in College B (16-21), while Mickelson won the College A (16-21) class. Teammate Haedyn Mickelson competed in the 4X4 Pro class. Andrew Delong and Austin Lee made their debut with the team in the motorcycle classes.
The oft-maligned track featured deep sand whoops, rough exposed palmetto tree roots, as well as a swamp crossing. Eller spent much of the offseason working on his starts and it showed. After taking the lead at the start, he only lost the point once before coming home for his first victory by over 13 minutes.
“I finally got the starts dialed in and I came out like a rocket,” explained Eller. “The track was twice as rough as last year, but I knew that going in, and I did my best to pace myself. The bike rode really smooth. It’s amazing to say I’ve won both a GNCC and an ATV Motocross race. I’m among a small group of people that can say that.”
Eller spent much of last season recovering from a significant wrist injury. Though nervous going into the race, a hard hit proved to him the joint had healed perfectly and was ready for whatever he threw at it.
“I hit a tree and it jerked my handlebars,” said Eller. “It hurt at the time, but after two laps I shook it out. I was a little nervous about how my wrist was going to work, but it didn’t hurt the next day at all, so I think we’re good to go.”
Noah Mickelson took third at the start of his race, but hit a tree. After coming out behind the entire field, he set to work. He took fifth on the second lap and then third on lap three. He then took the lead for good soon after. He credited his Elka suspension and Maxxis tires for helping him negotiate not just the rough course, but for helping him pass virtually the entire field of afternoon ATV racers.
“Palatka is all sand and it was rough, but the Elka suspension held up really well,” said Noah Mickelson. “The Maxxis tires were amazing. There were a couple of muddy spots and I didn’t even come close to getting stuck.”
Haedyn Mickelson made his debut in the 4X4 Pro class. After a slow start, he made quick progress and made it up to second before a suspension issue slowed his charge. He finished seventh.
“I battled for quite a while and it was pretty fun racing with all of those fast guys; I haven’t been able to do that on a 4X4 quad before,” said Haedyn Mickelson. “I kept pushing along and worked my up into second. It was my style with the sandy berms. It was very motocross-like.”
Delong was competing in the top motorcycle class XC1 Open Pro for the team. Riding a Honda CRF 450RX for the first time in race trim, Delong had to fight through pain during the race after sustaining a leg injury on the first lap. He fought hard to finish seventh.
“On the first lap, my foot peg wedged my leg between the bike and a tree and I thought I had broken my leg,” said Delong. “It took a while to get the feeling back in my leg and it was definitely a painful race. Working with the whole Phoenix Racing team is great and is a step in the right direction. They take it seriously and that is what I want.”
Lee was running in the XC2 250 Pro Bike class. Riding a Honda CRF 250RX, he had issues in the race, but is looking for improved results as the season continues.
“I had to try to work my way through the pack,” said Lee. “The new Honda feels good.”
The Phoenix Racing GNCC team will be back in action as the series heads to Washington, GA for the next race, scheduled for March 16-17.