After six years of hard work, injuries and near misses, Purvines Racing Yamaha’s Axel Pearson topped the field at a National and did it in the best way possible by winning in front of family and friends at the 7th Annual Muley Run, hosted by the Silver State Trail Blazers. It was a welcome return to racing for the local star after sitting out practically all year with injury.
Axel Pearson Wins Muley Run National Hare & Hound
Series points leader Kendall Norman finished second while Pearson’s Purvines Racing teammate, Nick Burson, claimed a close third—both Purvines riders displaying N91X side numbers in tribute to Cody Kurtz. After running fourth overall through the first loop, Beta’s Chance Fullerton settled for seventh overall and the FMF Pro 250 victory to wrap up the class championship with one round to go.
Round six in the seven-race Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series, Presented by FMF, proved to be extremely dusty despite nearly two weeks of rain that left most of the washes smooth but deep.
Therefore, it was imperative to get a great start and that’s just what Pearson did, edging out Norman by the end of the sage brush-covered bomb run.
“With how dusty things were, I knew [getting the start] was so important so I definitely hung it out the first mile or so,” Precision Concepts/GPR Stabilizer/O’Neal Racing YZ450FX-mounted Pearson explained.
He continued, “Once I got [out front], in my head I knew that if I just rode my pace, it’s going to be hard for anyone to pass me. I felt like I rode a decent pace—I was actually surprised how big a gap I had.
“I tried to go fast in the sections where it wasn’t too dusty and cruised in the real dusty stuff.”
And he needed it when he crashed hard towards the end of the 37-mile first loop and needed a few moments to gather himself and take inventory.
But he still had nearly a minute over Chocolate Mountain Ranch/Pro Circuit/Alpinestars CRF450X rider Norman, who had about 22 seconds on Burson and his Galfer/BRP/Sidi-backed YZ450FX.
A mixup in the first miles of the 36-mile second loop saw a number of front-runners inadvertently follow the morning’s Youth minibike course, which brought them back to the pits. In the end, it affected Woolslayer Racing/Economy Floors/Fly Racing YZ250FX-mounted Daemon Woolslayer the most. Second in points to Fullerton in the FMF Pro 250s, he came in at the tail end of the group who’d gone the wrong way and instead of going into the pits, was directed to follow the riders ahead of him, thus bypassing the pit and, predictably, running out of fuel later to end his championship hopes.
Out front, Pearson kept moving away and by the finish added another 30 seconds or so to his lead, completing the dash in an hour 57 minutes and 27 seconds.
With FMF KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team’s Taylor Robert out with injury, Norman added another 25 points to his total with his runner-up finish in 1:59:42, Burson third in 2:00:47.
Unlike Pearson who grew up riding in the area, this was Norman’s first time racing here, though he dismissed that as a factor, instead noting how fun it was.
But like Pearson, Norman also sent down at speed—his in a high-speed fire road turn—and praised his rival: “He was on it; he riding such a good race! I did my best to try to minimize my mistakes out there and be smooth and be smart.
“I was giving it my all out there and Axel was killing it.”
In the all-important points chase, however, 2010 champ Norman remains atop the charts with 152 points and only one round remaining. Burson’s third-place finish vaulted him to second at 128 so he has a mathematical chance at the championship with only the finale in October remaining. “It’s not over yet,” Norman insisted.
Robert drops to third with his 90 points while SRT Husqvarna’s Ryan Smith came in fifth and finds himself fourth in points at 89.
The finale will see no changes at the top of the FMF Pro 250s, however, with Fullerton and his Kenda/Motul/Fast House 250 RR Factory Edition clinching the title at the Muley Run.
“Most importantly, I tried to stay consistent,” he declared, his plan for both the race and the season. “I just tried to ride as conservatively yet on pace as I could because knowing that I needed to win was a big thing, but at the same time I knew that even if I was to pull top fives in the last two rounds, I could still win [the title]. I was just trying to ride as smart as possible; everything was just about riding smart.”