KELLEY VS BAYLOR AT BUCKWHEAT GNCC
The Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship, concluded its penultimate round of racing on Sunday, October 10, at the AMSOIL Buckwheat 100 in Newburg, West Virginia. Sunday’s weather brought warm, sunny and mostly dry conditions to the track, however, some muddy remnants remained throughout the course for the motorcycle racers.
When the green flag waved at the start of the race it was the AmPro Yamaha of Steward Baylor grabbing the early lead and an extra $250 thanks to the All Balls Racing XC1 Holeshot Award. Baylor would continue to hold the early lead as the pack made their way through timing and scoring on lap one. Coastal GASGAS Factory Racing’s Ricky Russell would have a great start, coming through two seconds behind Baylor on the opening lap. Russell would soon make the pass for the lead and hold that position for the second lap of the race. Unfortunately, Russell would suffer a crash on lap three and fall back to seventh.
Ben Kelley (FMF/KTM Factory Racing) battled throughout the day to earn the overall win, and retake the points lead heading into the season finale. Photo: Mack Faint
On lap three, FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley had made the move to the lead from his fifth place start to the day. Kelley had continued to push for the first two laps, coming by just one second behind whoever was in front of him at the time. Kelley was determined to get into that lead position and push for the overall win, and that is just what he would do. Kelley held the lead from lap three until the checkered flag flew.
Baylor found himself in second for the remainder of the day, but he would continue to push his hardest to make up time on Kelley and battle for that lead position. Baylor now sits just four points behind Kelley in the National Championship standings that will now go down to Ironman to see who will be crowned the 2021 GNCC National Champion.
Rockstar Energy Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Thad Duvall battled for the entirety of the three-hour race to return to the podium with a third overall on the day. Duvall would find himself in sixth early in the race, but he would put his head down and continue to move forward for the next six laps of racing. Duvall would make the pass for third on the final lap, only to find himself on the ground just before the finish line. Duvall would quickly re-fire his bike only to find it not running properly, as he jumped off the bike, he began to push the motorcycle across the finish line.
West Virginia native, AmPro Yamaha’s Layne Michael would have a good race as he came through to finish fourth overall on the day. Michael found himself making passes throughout the first half of the race, eventually moving into third on the fourth lap of the race. Michael would continue to hold onto third place for three laps, however, he would be unable to hold off Duvall on the last lap.
After battling for a top three finishing position for the first half of the race, Magna1 Motorsports/Husqvarna’s Jordan Ashburn would come through to cross the finish line fifth overall on the day. Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green’s Josh Strang worked his way up from a ninth place start to the day to finish sixth overall.
Rockstar Energy Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Trevor Bollinger would cross the line seventh overall after running at the front of the group on the opening lap. Bollinger would fall back to seventh and try to make his way back up towards the front, but he would be unable to make the pass back around Strang. After a crash on lap two, Russell would try to remount and make a push towards the front. Russell would continue to push, crossing the finish line eighth in XC1.
Making the move up to the XC1 Open Pro class was AmPro Yamaha’s Michael Witkowski. As the race wore on Witkowski would find himself sitting 10th in XC1, but he would find himself battling with FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth for the last two laps. Witkowski would cross the line ninth in XC1 as Toth came through to round out the top 10 finishers.
The start of the race looked to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride for Coastal GASGAS Factory Racing’s Jonathan Girroir. However, as Girroir charged on from his fourth place position on lap two he would soon find himself making the pass for the lead with just two laps to go. Girroir only needed to finish inside the top 5 of the XC2 competitors to clinch the 2021 XC2 GNCC National Championship, but he has the mindset of a winner and he wanted to win the race and the championship. Girroir would do just that as he crossed the finish line 1.3 seconds ahead of second, clinching the XC2 250 Pro National Championship.
Rocketing towards the first turn was Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green’s Lyndon Snodgrass as he edged out Factory Beta’s Thorn Devlin for the $100 Hot Cams XC2 Holeshot Award. Snodgrass would continue to battle with the top three for the duration of the race, making the pass for second on the last lap and setting his sights on first. Ultimately, Snodgrass would run out of time to battle for the lead, but he would only be one second from Girroir.
Rockstar Energy Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Craig DeLong had a mid-pack start in fifth place, but he would put his head down and push, and would soon find himself battling for the lead position on lap four. DeLong would try his hardest to hold off Girroir, but with two laps remaining in the race would lose the lead to Girroir and begin to feel the pressure from Snodgrass. DeLong continued to fight until the checkered flag, but he would cross the line third on the day and a second place in XC2 for the season.
Making the switch to the 125cc motorcycle and FMF XC3 class was MX Tech Suspension/Tely Energy/Moose Racing’s Hunter Neuwirth, who would come through to earn his first win. Neuwirth would have to make up time after coming through in third on the first lap. As the race continued Neuwirth would make the pass for the lead on the fourth lap of racing, and he would hold that lead until the checkered flag flew.
Canyon Motorsports/FXR Gear/JDP Suspension Jason Lipscomb would hold onto second place after being unable to hold off Neuwirth in the lead position earlier in the race. Lipscomb would try to battle back, but he would cross the finish line eight seconds behind the leader. Enduro Engineering/Husqvarna/FXR’s Jake Froman rounded out the FMF XC3 top three finishers after running a consistent race.
Making his way to the center of the Top Amateur podium once again this season was Team Green Kawasaki’s Joseph Cunningham who finished 19th overall and first in the 250 A class. Cunningham currently sits first in the championship hunt. Triston Landrum came through to take second in 250 A and on the top amateur podium with his 20th overall finishing position. Will Sievenpiper made the move to the 250 A class from Open A to finish third in class and 21st overall earning him the final spot on the top amateur podium at round 12.