Jacob Argubright Wins AMA WHS, Cory Graffunder Takes 2015 Championship Title

Argubright gets first AMA WHS win of season while Graffunder takes title

The problem with racing two different series is dates sometimes conflict. How do you decide which one to do when two races in two different states conflict?

That’s the dilemma that SRT KTM’s Cory Graffunder found himself in since both the final round of the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles (WHS) Championship Series in Laughlin, Nevada, fell on the same day as the GEICO AMA EnduroCross round in Boise, Idaho.

The one thing working in his favor was Graffunder had a comfortable points lead going into the penultimate round of the WHS, the inaugural Fall Classic Hare Scramble put on by the Desert Motorcycle Club outside of Lucerne Valley, California. He’d podiumed at all six previous rounds, including two wins, giving him 152 points while his closest pursuers—Travis Coy of the Maxxis/FMF/RPM Racing KTM team and Purvines Racing Beta’s Nick Burson—had 126 and and 121 points, respectively, Burson also claiming two victories.

If Graffunder could beat Coy and Burson, he could sew up the championship at Lucerne and afford to miss Laughlin.

But Lucerne is desert, plain and simple. In the past, it’s been the venue for half of the AMA’s hare & hound Nationals; currently, three of the eight rounds are held there. And Graffunder knows he’s no desert racer, though he’s raced in the desert and even done a couple hare & hound Nationals for the experience.

Burson, on the other hand, was itching to dominate in the desert, which is what he grew up racing. He (and Coy) needed to win to keep his title hopes alive.

Graffunder shared, “I think in the last five years I’ve done maybe three hare & hounds kind of spread out and only one out here so one hare & hound out here and I’ve done a bunch of King of the Motos out here. That is a very different type of racing than this!

“It was such a big question mark for me: What is the course going to be like? There’s so much terrain out here and depending on what they use, I think it was going to be a good course for me or a bad course for me.”

Then there was reigning series champ Jacob Argubright, the Rockstar Energy/Bel-Ray Husqvarna Factory Racing Team rider another who felt at home in the desert though he’d missed most of the season recovering from a broken wrist suffered a year ago. He was healthy once again and wanted desperately to get at least one win while running the number one plate before having to hand it over to a successor.

As it turned out, Argubright led almost from start to finish to get himself in the points for the first time this year. “Since I can’t defend [my title], I’ve got to try to put the number one on top the best I can,” he said.

His toughest competition early on came from Burson who sprinted and passed him in the early going, Argubright shaking his head and confessing, “Gosh, he’s so fast in the open stuff like sprints!.

“I had nothing for him.”

Unfortunately for Burson, the desert bit him: “I got the lead but crashed at mile five and jacked my hand up so I was riding with two fingers all day. I couldn’t really do anything; I couldn’t hold on and I couldn’t hit stuff hard.

“The last lap I blew my hand off the bars like three times trying to pin it through a valley because I couldn’t grip any more.”

Thus, he had nothing when Graffunder came up to challenge him, yielding second place—and the series championship.

The 25 points Graffunder earned for second place put him at 177 points while Burson hung on to third place and its 21 points, giving him a total of 142. That wrapped up the title for Graffunder, who also won in 2012.

“I knew that if I came here and won, that would do it,” he said. “Other than that, if I was second or third, I would have to have a few spots on both of those guys (Coy and Burson) to have more than 30 [points on them]. So with Jake out front and gone, I was trying to be a human calculator as I was racing, [yet] trying to push those thoughts out of my mind.”

With the championship safely in hand, he can now turn his full attention to EnduroCross.

Burson and Coy, who finished fifth in Lucerne, will take their battle to the finale. Whoever beats the other will be series vice-champion as they go into Laughlin tied at 142 apiece.

Fourth on the day for Burson’s teammate Axel Pearson unofficially vaults him from sixth to fourth in points.

Ryan Smith, FMF 250cc Pro winner Dalton Shirey, Kyle Redmond and FMF 250cc Pros Clayton Gerstner and Nick Stover rounded out the top 10 overall in Lucerne.

Reigning series champ Jacob Argubright got the holeshot, relinquished it briefly to Nick Burson (657) until the Beta rider crashed, then went on to win for the first time in his shortened season. Second place for Cory Graffunder (118) was enough to wrap up the series championship, however, allowing him to skip the finale and concentrate on the final two rounds of EnduroCross. Second in points will be the battle to watch as Burson and Travis Coy (visible in blue-and-white helmet behind Argubright) are now tied at 142 points going into the finale.Photo by Mark Kariya
Dalton Shirey (X146) tuned up for the next day’s Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series finale by running away with the FMF 250cc Pro class, though he’s not chasing WHS points. Nick Stover (X281) ended up third in class behind Shirey and Clayton Gerstner (not shown), adding some security to his hold on second in class points.Photo by Mark Kariya
In a unique matchup, the Youth races combined riders from both the hare & hound and hare scrambles series. Though H&H Super Mini points leader clinched the class championship by winning, WHS Super Mini points leader Jon Modena (shown) fared well, finishing third overall and first of the woods racers.Photo by Mark Kariya