Charlie Mullins took a giant step towards winning his first GNCC title with an impressive victory at the Amsoil Ironman GNCC in Crawfordsville, Indiana – round 13 of the 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Series. The Ironman GNCC is historically known for it’s spectator-friendly obstacles and festive aura, usually serving as the final round of racing; but due to a previous rainout, the Ironman provided a penultimate round of exciting racing action in all classes, the finale taking place at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch November 4-6. Aside from racing action, there were a variety of special events taking place at the festive Ironman event and there’s no doubt the Crawfordsville locals witnessed a day of racing they will never forget.
Looking strong and confident on a challenging and deeply rutted course, Mullins took the lead at the end of the opening lap and after three hours of racing had increased his advantage to nearly 40 seconds.
However, the FMF/KTM rider’s fifth win of the season didn’t come quite as easily as that, as Am-Pro/FMF Yamaha’s Paul Whibley kept things exciting by closing in on Mullins midway into the race. However, in the end, Mullins was able to pull away from the 2009 series champ and enjoyed a comfortable lead when he took the checkers at the finish.
With the win, Mullins now has a healthy 38-point lead in the series standings, which he will carry into the double-header finale at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch.
“It’s good to add to my lead, and it puts me a little closer to the championship,” said Mullins. “I just rode as hard as I could and things went my way.”
“I lost a few positions in a creek crossing on the opening lap and I dropped back to about fifth, but then I just put my head down and passed everybody on the backside and then put on a sprint and opened up a gap,” added Mullins. “Later on, I saw Whibley was coming, but I just held my pace and it worked out.”
Whibley crossed the finish line in second, but due to a rules infraction, the New Zealander was docked one position in the standings, promoting his Am Pro Yamaha teammate Thad DuVall up to second. The runner-up finish marked the second podium in a row for DuVall, who is starting to find his rhythm after getting off to a slow start to the season.
Meanwhile, Whibley rounded out the podium in third, capping off one of his best rides of the year.
Josh Strang turned in an amazing charge from the back of the pack to finish fourth, after the FMF Makita Suzuki rider broke a foot peg on the opening lap and had to return to the pits for repairs. Strang, the defending series champ, has had a series of bad luck since the summer break, but in this instance, the Aussie off-road star minimized the damage with an incredible effort.
JG Off-road/GEICO Powersports Honda’s Jimmy Jarrett continues to turn in strong performances and ended the day in fifth after coming out on top of an intense battle with FMF/KTM’s Russell Bobbitt. Bobbitt held on for sixth, with JG Off-road/GEICO Powersports Honda’s Scotty Watkins finishing seventh.
Cory Buttrick ran a solid third for a good part of the day; however, the FMF/KTM rider ran out of gas midway into the race and spent the rest of the day working his way back into eighth.
Kawasaki rider Eric Bailey finished ninth, with 2010 Snowshoe GNCC winner Nate Kanney, taking 10thafter running out of gas on his WMR Racing/Clockwork/Planet Fitness KTM.
Jedediah Haines kicked things off by winning the $250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award at the start of the race.
Kailub Russell, the winner of the previous round in Ohio – the Powerline GNCC – came into Crawfordsville hoping to add to his string of podium finishes, however, a mechanical issue kept the KTM rider in the pits for most of the race.
Steward Baylor Jr. made a late-race pass on Jordan Ashburn and then held the Am Pro Yamaha rider at bay to take the win in the XC2 class, his sixth such finish of the year. Like Mullins in the XC1 class, Baylor is closing in on the XC2 title and the KTM rider now holds a commanding 52-point lead over Ashburn in the class standings.
Andrew DeLong, who inked a deal with FAR Husqvarna on the morning of the Ironman, turned in perhaps the surprise ride of the day by giving his new employer a podium finish, taking a solid third in his first race on a 250F.
JG Off-road/GEICO Powersports Honda‘s Rory Mead edged Obermeyer Yamaha’s Morgan Moss for fourth, while FAR Husqvarna’s Jason Thomas managed to finish sixth with a broken hand.
Yamaha riders Steve Squire, Ryan Lojak, Cody Gragg and AJ Stewart rounded out the top 10. Gragg claimed the $100 Motosport.com Holeshot Award at the start of the race.
Adam Bonneur was the top finishing “non pro” rider, with a solid 14th overall finish on a Kawasaki. Bonneur also took first in the Open A class.
For the second race in a row, Suzuki rider Mark Patterson claimed the overall win in the A.M. race, and topped the Masters A (50+) class in the process.
Randall Riggs (Yam) was second overall and second in the Masters A (50+) class, while David Fallas (KTM) was third overall and third in the Masters A (50+) class.
Maria Forsberg won the Women’s division, ahead of Ashley Crouch (Hon) and Hannah Otto (KTM). In two weeks, Forsberg will try her hand in the afternoon race at the Loretta Lynn GNCC.
In the Sportsman A class, Jordan Johns was first on a KTM, with Yamaha rider Brady Meyers second and KTM rider Cody Hardesty third.
In the Youth race, Austin Lee (KTM) finished first overall for the sixth time this year, and topped the Super Mini (12-13) class, as well. Michael Witkowski was second overall and second in the Super Mini (12-13) class, while Ryan Slopko was third overall and first in the Super Mini (14-15) class.
Anton Kerscher (Suz) won the 85 (14-15) division ahead of Yamaha riders Jarrett Stephenson and Daniel Lynch.
The 2011 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series heads to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee for the Parts Unlimited Loretta Lynn’s GNCC on November 4-6. For the first time in GNCC history, bike racing will take place on Friday, with ATV racing on Saturday and bike racing will take place again on Sunday – making up for two rain dates previously in the schedule. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com.
1. Charlie Mullins (KTM)
2. Thad DuVall (Yam)
3. Paul Whibley (Yam)
4. Josh Strang (Suz)
5. Jimmy Jarrett (Hon)
6. Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
7. Scotty Watkins (Hon)
8. Cory Buttrick (KTM)
9. Eric Bailey (Kaw)
10. Nate Kanney (KTM)
1. Charlie Mullins (275/5 wins)
2. Josh Strang (237/2 wins)
3. Paul Whibley (234/3 wins)
4. Kailub Russell (190/1 win)
5. Nate Kanney (171)
6. Cory Buttrick (133)
7. Thad DuVall (121)
8. Jimmy Jarrett (114)
9. Mike Lafferty (105)
10. Chris Bach (96)
1. Steward Baylor Jr. (KTM)
2. Jordan Ashburn (Yam)
3. Andrew DeLong (Hsq)
4. Rory Mead (Hon)
5. Morgan Moss (Yam)
6. Jason Thomas (Hsq)
7. Steve Squire (Yam)
8. Ryan Lojak (Yam)
9. Cody Cragg (Yam)
10. AJ Stewart (Yam)
1. Steward Baylor Jr. (273/6 wins)
2. Jordan Ashburn (221/3 wins)
3. Jason Thomas (220/1 win)
4. Andrew DeLong (214)
5. Jesse Robinson (146/1 win)
6. Morgan Moss (129)
7. Scotty Watkins (125)
8. AJ Stewart (119)
9. Zackery Smith (111)
10. Steve Squire (105)
Motosport.com $250 XC1 holeshot – Jedediah Haines
Motosport.com $100 XC2 holeshot – Cody Cragg