We’ve passed the halfway point in 2010 and with the summer break in full swing, it’s definitely been an interesting year thus far. Coming into the 2010 GNCC Series, Charlie Mullins was on fire. He had been winning local races and National Enduros, making it seem like he was going to be the man to beat in 2010. However, when the checkered flag dropped in Florida, it was Josh Strang taking the win.
This set Strang into a winning streak. He backed up the Florida win with a first at The General in Georgia only 4 days later. He also ended up with the win at Steele Creek when the race was called early. Was three in a row enough for Josh? No! He brought home yet another win in South Carolina. After going four in a row Strang was finally knocked off the top spot by Charlie Mullins at Loretta Lynn’s. This now set Mullins into a winning streak as he would win the Yadkinville and Pennsylvania rounds. Strang had a hard crash at Yadkinville and ended up cruising around the rest of the race. He also had a tough race in Pennsylvania. Could the Yadkinville crash cost him the championship? Well, he proved that wasn’t so with his second place finish at The John Penton, but ended up with more bad luck at Snowshoe.
What about Mullins? After his three race win streak he ended up only making two laps in the mud at John Penton but then came back to a sixth overall at Snowshoe. He has definitely proved that he’s the only major challenge to Strang.
What about the others? Cory Buttrick started out slow with two ninth place finishes in the opening rounds. Then he jumped all the way to a second place finish in the Steele Creek mud, had a couple of sevenths and a fifth, then a second, and finally broke through for a win at his home race, The John Penton. For Buttrick to get a win in his rookie XC1 season at his home race was huge, and the fans seemed to be just as pumped as Cory was. Cory backed that up with a fifth overall and third in XC1 at Snowshoe. Not bad for a rookie XC1 rider!
Defending champion Paul Whibley has had his ups and downs so far this year. He had a tough race in Florida, only managing a 15th. He came back to a second place in Georgia, then from there seemed to bounce back and forth each race. He would be up to third one race, drop to fifth, back up to third, then drop to a twelfth. However, we all know it’s only a matter of time before the Ax Man gets back to his winning ways.
How about Chris Bach? He made the jump to XC1 this year from the Open-A class and ran down the top guys. When the 2010 season started he was true privateer but managed to slay the factory dragon with a second and a third in the opening rounds. He stayed in the top 10 for the next two rounds, and came back with a pair for fourths before hitting some bad luck in Pennsylvania. He came back to a fifth in XC1 at John Penton, then once again made his way back onto the podium with his second place XC1 finish at Snowshoe. If his rookie year is any indication of what you can expect out of Bachstar, then I would definitely expect to see him up front for quite a while.
In the XC2 class, defending champ Kailub Russell has once again dominated the class for the majority of the season. Kailub will be moving up to XC1 next year and if he rides the last four races like he has the rest of the races this year, he will definitely be going out in style… With a second XC2 title.
Holding down second in the XC2 class is Jason Thomas. Jason took the win in Florida and has consistently stayed in the top 5 for the rest of the races so far. With two wins under his belt so far this year, Jason is showing that he may be contender number one for the 2011 XC2 title.
Jesse Robinson opted to ride the 250 2 stroke in XC2 this year after losing his Husaberg ride from last year. This proved to be a great choice as Jesse has been on the podium at all but one race. He got his breakthrough win at The John Penton, then went on a tare at Snowshoe and finished second overall after leading! Jesse is just a mere five points behind Jason Thomas in XC2 points, and with a two race win streak, he’s hungry for that second spot.
Going back to the XC1 class, you can’t forget the other riders such as Nathan Kanney. Nate brought home the win at Snowshoe and he’s always a factor in the season ending races. He will definitely be the guy to keep an eye on come September 12th at Unadilla. Glenn Kearney is still going strong and he’s still hungry for his GNCC win. I would definitely expect Glenn to breakthrough soon and be on the top spot of the podium. The legendary Barry Hawk is still going at it and could very well jump back onto the podium at any time. Jimmy Jarrett has had a tough year after his hard first turn crash in Georgia. To top that off, he was recently the victim of a hit and run accident after being hit on his bicycle. Hopefully Jimmy will be back to 100% for Unadilla. Of course we can’t leave out Thad Duvall. Bad Thad has had some terrible luck the past couple of years but in South Carolina he proved he can make it happen. I expect to see him back on top soon enough.
As for the rest of the XC2 class, Scott Watkins has stayed in the top 10 all year and had several podiums. He just may be another rider to keep an eye on for the rest of 2010. Of course, there’s young Steward Baylor. He’s hitting his learning curve in the XC2 class and will definitely be a title contender in coming years.
Wow, all this reflection on 2010 is getting me excited for the last four races. The best part of the ending round is that no matter what happened before the summer break, it can be hard to predict how the final four will go down.
It’s still 8 weeks away but Unadilla will be here before you know it. So don’t waste your summer sitting around the house. Make sure to stay in shape, keep riding and be ready for September 12th. It’s coming.
I originally posted this to www.offroadjunkies.com