If the GNCC season has not been confusing enough after several rounds of rescheduling, round 9 would just add more drama or excitement depending on who you cheer on to the already wild season. This round was due to be run a month ago and many were fearful holding the race in July would be murder due to the usual high temperatures and humidity however mother nature proved she can be somewhat fair as the temps held in the low 80’s with relative low humidity for July. Of course she can be testy and dumped a ton of rain on Friday offering a huge mix of conditions out on the course that ranged from slick rocks and roots to dry and dusty sections that would take its toll dropping riders and wreaking havoc on everyone’s plans of leaving for the summer break without damage, injuries and their pride intact. If anything, this round left many with a ton of work to do during the series summer break to get back on track because the wheels are coming off some of the top talent or it may be a perceived problem as other riders have just stepped up their game to where no one rider can be the dominating force we have grown accustom to.

Round 9 GNCC John Penton Ricky Russell
Ricky Russell had the lead by the second turn and three hours ahead of him to try for a another win here at the John Penton GNCC.Ken Hill

The racing itself was pretty epic throughout the ranks as the lead was swapped virtually non-stop and the battles seemed never ending. With RacerTV streaming the event live, fans were getting instant updates as the broadcast was presented over the facility and at times, even they had trouble keeping up with the fast pace of changes in the running order. The Penton is the oldest standing stop on the circuit and after 20 plus years, one would think it would be played out of surprises yet this year it became one of the most intense races of the season. The conditions, the layout and the effort to win all played into the results which themselves turned into a quagmire of dismay for some while others were thrust into overwhelming joy as Thad Duvall’s win was stripped away and handed to Grant Baylor after a protest that sent everyone into a tornado of emotion and the dust still hasn’t settled.

The protest itself stems from a fan pointing a line that Duvall took which reportedly put him outside the legal distance which prompted the penalty. Social media is abuzz with fans protecting what they feel is an injustice however Thad Duvall is showing he is indeed a true sportsman and handling it in a very professional manner and may have options to fight the decision but time will tell.

Round 9 GNCC John Penton Craig DeLong
Craig DeLong got off to a solid start in XC2 and would race to another podium finish.Ken Hill

XC2 would also see a change on the podium as Layne Michael would finally get the win he was working so hard for after a frustrating season thus far. The spots may have changed up on the box but the same players were heavy in the game as Craig DeLong and Josh Toth joined Layne on the podium and all three showed the signs of an exhaustive race. It will be a hard task to knock Toth off his pace but the summer break can offer the needed time to evaluate what is working and what isn’t if there is anything that really needs tweaking as the competition level is just so close and so good that their A games are being decided by an A- offering the fans a great race at every round.

The FMF XC3 class would see a bug change as front runner Jason Thomas suffered some issues which opened the door for a new winner in a class that was being dominated by Thomas and Jack Edmondson before he suffered an injury that has had him sidelined. Hunter Neuwirth put his head down and claimed his first win after finding the podium at Snowshoe and if the size of his smile did not tell the story nothing will. Mark Heresco Jr. would take home second followed by Devan Welch in 3rd.

The series summer break is now in full swing and competition will resume in September as the final rounds head towards the season finale. The drama, frustration, excitement and all round craziness will have people working harder and looking to settle the score when racing fires back to life!

Round 9 GNCC John Penton FMF XC3 class
The FMF XC3 class would see a new winner here at the Penton.Ken Hill
Round 9 GNCC John Penton Kailub Russell
After a last place start, Kailub Russell would push hard on the first lap and emerge with the lead.Ken Hill
Thad Duvall Round 9 GNCC John Penton
Thad Duvall was shadowing Russell and it appeared we had a real battle getting ready to develop.Ken Hill
Round 9 GNCC John Penton Thad Duvall
Duvall hit the motocross portion of the course with the lead as he and Russell swapped for the lead several times.Ken Hill
Round 9 GNCC John Penton Thad Duvall
With clear track ahead of him, Duvall was charging hard and wanting badly to grab the win.Ken Hill
Round 9 GNCC John Penton
Battles were shaping up all through the pro class.Ken Hill
Round 9 GNCC John Penton Layne Michael
Layne Michael was on fire here in Ohio!Ken Hill
Round 9 GNCC John Penton Austin Lee
Austin Lee was running strong and looked to be putting in a podium-finishing race.Ken Hill
Ryan Sipes Round 9 GNCC John Penton
Ryan Sipes charging hard on a rough and tough Penton track.Ken Hill
Chris Bach Round 9 GNCC John Penton
Chris Bach put in a solid ride here at the Penton, claiming 5th in XC1 ProKen Hill
Josh Toth Round 9 GNCC John Penton
Josh Toth climbs the FMF hill on his way to another podium finish in XC2.Ken Hill
Round 9 GNCC John Penton
The legend himself, John Penton was on hand. At 92 he has plenty of fight and energy as he shook hands and talked with racers and fans all day.Ken Hill
Round 9 GNCC John Penton Kailub Russell
Kailub Russell was dead last off the start as he begins hunting down the XC1 Pro class.Ken Hill
Layne Michael Round 9 GNCC John Penton
Layne Michael in the thick of things off the start. Layne would take his first XC2 win here at the John Penton.Ken Hill
Steward Baylor Round 9 GNCC John Penton
Steward Baylor would end up with 10th after a grueling race.Ken Hill
Ryan Sipes Round 9 GNCC John Penton
Ripped jerseys showed the abuse taking place in the woods and rocks. Ryan Sipes would take home 4th.Ken Hill
Josh Strang Round 9 GNCC John Penton
Josh Strang making short work of the MX section but would suffer a DNF after a mechanical issue took him out.Ken Hill
Ricky Russell Round 9 GNCC John Penton
Ricky Russell working a slick corner on his way to a 8th place finish.Ken Hill
Round 9 GNCC John Penton XC1 Pro Class
The XC1 Pro class was running incredibly close all throughout the 3-hour event.Ken Hill
Trevor Bollinger Round 9 GNCC John Penton
Trevor Bollinger on his way to a 7th place finish.Ken Hill
Josh Toth Round 9 GNCC John Penton
Josh Toth has been in total command of the XC2 class after 9 rounds of competition.Ken Hill
Thad Duvall Round 9 GNCC John Penton
After a very confusing set of circumstances, Thad Duvall would be stripped of his win allowing Grant Baylor to take the top spot.Ken Hill

XC1 Pro:
1. Grant Baylor
2. Thad Duvall
3. Kailub Russell
4. Ryan Sipes
5. Christopher Bach
6. Russell Bobbitt
7. Trevor Bollinger
8. Ricky Russell
9. Philippe Chaine
10. Steward Baylor Jr.