By: GNCC Racing
SPARTA, Ga. (March 25, 2017) – The third round of the 2017 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) series presented by Maxxis, an AMA National Championship, was treated to perfect weather conditions Saturday, March 25 at the second annual Maxxis Cannonball GNCC in Sparta, Ga. The track provided plenty of racing action, where WFR/Yamaha/Maxxis/Fly Racing’s Walker Fowler eventually took home the overall win at the conclusion of the two-hour race.
CST/Induction Solutions/LSR/HiPer/Spider Graphix’s Adam McGill jumped out to the early lead and grabbed the $250 Wiseco XC1 Pro Holeshot Award. While McGill faced a clear track in front of him, there were plenty of riders behind him who were eager to take his place.
Six-time GNCC champion Chris Borich and GBC/Canyon Motorsports/Fly Racing’s Landon Wolfe were applying the pressure to McGill early on. After an unfavorable start, Fowler sat in fifth around the three-mile marker.
Within five miles, Fowler was able to shave off two positions and settle into third. With a tight track, he was accompanied by Coastal Racing’s Brycen Neal, who sat in fourth.
As the front-runners checked through timing and scoring for the first time, the group was wheel to wheel with less than four seconds separating them. They would continue racing this way for the majority of the race.
As McGill continued to lead, Fowler faded back and Neal was able to secure second right before they hit the nine-mile mark. Borich wasn’t ready to settle for third, and within the next few miles he took second place back.
This pass fired Neal up, and he made another move on both Borich and McGill to move into the lead as the two-lap card came out. While Neal was finding success, Fowler found himself struggling with a loss of his front brakes.
Neal continued to lead the race, while Fowler pushed through. Once the white flag was out, Neal sat a few bike lengths ahead of Fowler and Borich, who were rubbing plastic. With only a few miles remaining, Fowler took a unique line across a creek to take the pass for the lead.
Shortly after the pass, Neal would face more issues and clip a tree, allowing JMR/ATVriders.com’s Jarrod McClure to move into second. After starting the race outside of the top 10, McClure slid under the radar just as his nickname “Sneaky Snake” implies.
With the largest lead anyone had experienced all race, Fowler rode the last mile comfortably and crossed the finish line victorious. McClure followed just 30 seconds behind in second. Neal was back on-track in third as he and Borich headed into the final field section. Borich was right on his tail, and was able to hold onto the gas for just a second longer as they went back into the last woods section. This played a major role in the final podium position as Borich took third.
As if his come-from-behind win wasn’t exciting enough, Fowler was able to set the fastest lap time of the day on the last lap. “The first two races I was able to do my thing, but that wasn’t the case today,” said Fowler. “Everyone showed up to race, and it kind of caught me off guard. I had an uncommon fifth-place start. We hit the trail, and I kept making small mistakes and hitting trees. After about the first hour I bent the front brake rotor, so I didn’t have any brakes and I just gave up. Everyone kept cheering me on, and then everything started clicking again. I was able to pass Borich and McGill over the creek crossing on the third lap, and I took another line through that same spot the last lap and made the pass on Neal.”
Neal finished just off the podium in fourth, and McGill managed to hold onto fifth. Wolfe earned his second sixth-place finish of the season, and Shockworx Motorsports/Spider Graphics/GBC Tires’s Tucker Wyatt raced his way to a personal-best finish in seventh.
Ithaca Recreation/Maxxis/Quad Tech/Storm Peak Crossfit’s Hunter Hart had his hands full with M.R. Unlimited/Hygear Suspension/GBC Tires/Tire Spine’s Devon Feehan. Hart would eventually come out on top in the XC2 Pro-Am division, with Feehan following in second. Defending champion Greg Covert rounded out the XC2 podium.
The 2017 AMSOIL GNCC Series resumes April 8-9 with the FMF Steele Creek GNCC in Morganton, N.C. A highlight show featuring the Cannonball event will air on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, May 28 at 5:30 p.m ET.