by: Jared Bolton
Thursday, May 25, 2023 | 12:00 PM
Welcome to Quick Fill.
Wow. What a wild weekend of racing at The John Penton. If you’re a fan of the mud, you probably had a great time last weekend and if you don’t like the mud then you probably didn’t enjoy your race weekend too much. Things got downright brutal all weekend long, and just as the conditions finally got a bit better for the PM bike race, we added in one of the most challenging John Penton Sections in history. More on that later.
We know things didn’t go exactly perfect throughout the weekend and we apologize to everyone who had issues. However, these things happen from time to time and we all have to learn from them and try our best to move onto the next one. Yes, we’ve all been through mud races at some point, but no two races are alike, full blown mudders or not, and sometimes you just don’t know exactly how things are going to shake down until the race is underway.
As for The John Penton Section, that truly was a ‘love it or hate it’ type of section. It’s no secret that this is always a grueling and challenging section of racetrack, and there have been times in the past where it’s been very, very difficult. However, it seems like this one may have been a little too tough and ventured awfully close to feeling like a hard enduro. This was due in part to the weather, and even though it had stopped raining for quite some time prior to that section being used, the dirt was still very soft and didn’t exactly make things easier. Again, we all learn from these things and move on to make it better in the future.
Of course, even with all of the nasty weather, the nasty conditions and just an overall really tough weekend, it was still a pretty great weekend of racing. Even when things are at their worst, a weekend of racing is still better than being anywhere else on a given weekend. So for those who stuck it out, thank you and hopefully we’ll put these nasty races behind us for a while.
Now, the racing itself stayed pretty exciting. On the ATV side, things really shook up at the front of the pack as Josh Merritt would lead the opening lap of the race before Jay Shadron found his way into the lead on lap two. Then it would be The Gator himself, Adam McGill, taking over the lead on the third lap and he would hold onto that lead all the way to the checkered flag. The win by McGill would mark his first overall win since The Mountaineer in 2020 and the third different ATV winner of the 2023 season.
Josh Merritt would put in a career best ride to end the day with a really solid second place, which was great to see. Josh is one of those guys that everyone likes and everyone was pretty happy to see Josh on the podium in second place. Brycen Neal would come from deep in the pack, as far back as 11th place on the second lap, to finish on the podium in third place. Wyatt Wilkin would run in podium contention for most of the race before ending the day in fourth place while John Glauda Jr rounded out the top five.
As for the bike side, many people were wondering exactly how many rounds it would take before someone would repeat as the race winner. Through the first six rounds there would be six different winners, and many started to think the streak could end soon. However, Josh Strang had won the 2021 and 2022 versions of The John Penton, and Jordan Ashburn won last year’s Burr Oak event. Both of these guys had yet to win in 2023 and both had a great shot to make it seven different winners in seven rounds.
Well, Jordan Ashburn stepped up to the plate to do exactly that as he would take The John Penton win, making it seven for seven in terms of different winners through the first seven rounds of the season. He had to work for it as Steward Baylor was on the gas all day long but would end up in second place, just over one second behind Ashburn. The Hoosier GNCC winner, Johnny Girroir would take the third place spot while Josh Strang and Craig Delong would round out the top five of the XC2 class. This ride would help propel Steward Baylor into the lead in the hunt for the GNCC National Championship as he now sits ten points ahead of Craig Delong. Ben Kelley would have a devastating race at The Penton, ultimately finishing 33rd overall and drop to third place in the point standings.
If you want to read more on some of the bike happenings, including how things shaped up in the XC2 class, be sure to check out Racer X’s GNCC report HERE. If you didn’t already know, we actually have one of those after each GNCC event and they’re always worth reading. So, don’t forget to check it out sometime in the days following each GNCC event.
Attention now turns to the Mason-Dixon GNCC coming up next weekend. This is another really fun event with a course that tends to be a bit more on the woodsy side with a couple short fields here and there for good measure. There’s nothing over the top crazy to talk about in regards to this round as it’s just a classic GNCC event that always seems to produce a pretty fun weekend of racing. This event is held at Mathews Farm, just across the street from the world-famous High Point Raceway, which will be hosting the High Point National Pro Motocross just a couple of weekends after we wrap up the Mason-Dixon.
Speaking of which, if you’re looking for a weekend of fun before heading to Snowshoe, the High Point National will be taking place June 17th. If you’ve never been to a Pro Motocross event in person, then you really need to check it out as these guys truly put on a show. You can get all the details on the High Point National HERE, or just head over to ProMotocross.com for details on the entire season. The majority of the GNCC staff help make the High Point round happen (and some of us are around most of the other Pro Motocross events) so you will definitely see some familiar faces around.
The Pro Motocross season actually kicks off in Southern California this weekend, and there’s a group of us from the regular GNCC staff who are out here helping get things ready for this event as well. So, with that said, we’ll wrap up this week’s edition of Quick Fill here. Check back next week for all the latest on the Mason-Dixon. Until then, enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you back here next week.