JOSH STRANG WINS FINAL GNCC, DELONG WINS THE CHAMPIONSHIP

Yamaha Racing Ironman: Motorcycle Race Report
Strang Earns Finale Victory; DeLong Clinches First-Ever Overall Championship

The Progressive Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Specialized (GNCC Racing), an AMA National Championship, capped off its season with a record setting number of racers throughout the course of the weekend. The Yamaha Racing Ironman GNCC saw 2,834 racers signup to take part in the annual event held at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Josh Strang (Babbitts Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green) battled back to earn the season finale overall win in Indiana. It was Josh’s 25th GNCC overall win on possibly his last race on the Green machine. Photo: Ken Hill

 

As the final green flag waved for the 2023 season it was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Craig DeLong jumping off the line first to grab the $250 All Balls Racing XC1 Holeshot Award. However, DeLong knew what he needed to do throughout the race to secure the number one plate, and on a fast-paced terrain he was not going to push himself over the limit. DeLong would finish eighth overall at the conclusion of the three-hour race, which would be enough to secure his first-ever XC1 Open Pro GNCC National Championship.

“It still hasn’t sunk in that’s for sure,” said DeLong. “Just a great year, crazy year, I mean how many winners we had this year and to be able to stand up here with the number one plate, it’s awesome.”

Craig DeLong (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing) clinched his first-ever XC1 Open Pro GNCC National Championship at the Yamaha Racing Ironman GNCC. Photo: Ken Hill

 

The season finale race at Ironman saw an abundance of battles happening throughout the duration as Magna1 Motorsports/Husqvarna’s Jordan Ashburn held the lead for four laps. The Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green’s Josh Strang was pushing himself though as he started out in third. Strang would continue to push, making the pass for the lead and continuing to hold that position until the checkered flag came out.

“It was kind of a fast track and hard to pass,” said Strang. “But I was able to make some passes and then the last two laps were just all out. It’s fun, I enjoyed it, and it was definitely fast paced but I felt comfortable, and it was good.”

Rocky Mountain/Tely Energy/KTM Racing’s Steward Baylor came into the season finale needing some help if he wanted to earn that National Championship. As the race got underway, Baylor was on a mission to get to the front of the pack and do what he needed to do. Baylor continued to push for the duration of the three-hour race, never giving up. Baylor ultimately crossed the finish line second overall, and he would earn second overall on the season.

Steadily making his way through the pack was FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Jonathan Girroir as he came around eighth on the opening lap. Girroir would continue to make the necessary passes to get towards the front, and by lap four he would be running in the third place position. As the race continued on, Girroir would chase down the leaders and a race to the finish would ensue. Girroir would come away with third overall on the day.

Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green’s Grant Baylor would put in the work throughout the race as he started back in tenth on the opening lap. Baylor would steadily move through the pack each lap and came through fourth overall on the day as the checkered flag flew. AmPro Yamaha’s Ricky Russell would finish fifth overall at the season finale after having a consistent race in Indiana.

After moving into second early in the race, FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley would struggle to hold the pace of the leaders after a halfway pit stop. Kelley would come through to finish sixth overall on the day. Ashburn would come through seventh overall after running in the lead position for the first half of the race.

Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green’s Lyndon Snodgrass and Enduro Engineering/Seven/GASGAS’ Josh Toth would round out the top 10 finishers in the XC1 Open Pro class. Snodgrass would earn 12th overall, while Toth came through 14th overall on the day.

Liam Draper (AmPro Yamaha) earned his first-ever championship, and is your 2023 XC2 250 Pro National Champion. Photo: Ken Hill

 

The XC2 250 Pro class would see a heated battle for the championship as well, with FMF RPM KTM Racing’s Angus Riordan and AmPro Yamaha’s Liam Draper. After Liqui Moly Factory Beta Racing’s Jonathan Johnson grabbed the $250 Steel City Men’s Clinic XC2 Holeshot Award, Phoenix Racing Honda’s Cody Barnes would lead the way on the opening lap. It wouldn’t take long for Riordan to make his way into the lead with Draper right on his back wheel.

Riordan would continue to hold the lead for the duration of the race, but Draper would not falter either. As they emerged from the woods and headed towards the finish line, Riordan would get the race win, but Draper would come through in second and clinch the 2023 250 Pro Sport GNCC National Championship.

Trail Jesters KTM Racing’s Grant Davis would put in a great ride as he came through to round out the top three finishers in the XC2 class and 11th overall on the day.

Hall’s Cycles/Enduro Engineering/Moose Racing’s Jhak Walker earned the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class win after leading for the entire six laps of the race. Drew Callaway and Matthew Sims rounded out the top three finishers in the XC3 class at the season finale in Indiana.

Taking home the Top Amateur honors at the Yamaha Racing Ironman GNCC was Kawasaki Team Green’s Joseph Cunningham of the 250 A class as he came through 16th overall on the day. Another Kawasaki Team Green racer, Nicholas DeFeo, would come through second on the Top Amateur podium with a second in the 250 A class as well. Rounding out the Top Amateur podium in third was Yamaha’s Michael Delosa, who also finished third in the 250 A class.

Rachael Archer (AmPro Yamaha) continued her winning ways as she earned the WXC class win at Ironman Raceway. Photo: Ken Hill

 

Josh Strang (center), Steward Baylor (right) and Jonathan Girroir (left) rounded out the top three finishers at the Yamaha Racing Ironman GNCC.

 

Yamaha Racing Ironman Results and Points Standings
Crawfordsville, Indiana
Round 12 of 12
Sunday, October 22, 2023

XC1 Pro Event Results:

  1. Josh Strang (KAW)
  2. Steward Baylor (KTM)
  3. Jonathan Girroir (KTM)
  4. Grant Baylor (KAW)
  5. Ricky Russell (YAM)
  6. Ben Kelley (KTM)
  7. Jordan Ashburn (HQV)
  8. Craig DeLong (HQV)
  9. Lyndon Snodgrass (KAW)
  10. Josh Toth (GAS)

*Overall National Championship Standings:

  1. Craig Delong (233)
  2. Steward Baylor (210)
  3. Ben Kelley (200)
  4. Jordan Ashburn (187)
  5. Ricky Russell (159)
  6. Grant Baylor (155)
  7. Josh Strang (140)
  8. Jonathan Girroir  (124)
  9. Angus Riordan (123)
  10. Liam Draper (120)

*Indicates that the Overall National Championship Standings will determine the 2023 National Champion.

XC2 250 Pro Event Results:

  1. Angus Riordan (KTM)
  2. Liam Draper (YAM)
  3. Grant Davis (KAW)
  4. Cody Barnes (HON)
  5. Brody Johnson (HQV)
  6. Jesse Ansley (KTM)
  7. Toby Cleveland (HQV)
  8. Jonathan Johnson (BET)
  9. Tyler Palmer (HQV)
  10. Max Erlandsson (HON)

XC2 250 Pro Series Standings:

  1. Liam Draper (260)
  2. Angus Riordan (251)
  3. Cody Barnes (227)
  4. Ruy Barbosa (191)
  5. Michael Witkowski (172)
  6. Mason Semmens (172)
  7. Jonathan Johnson (163)
  8. Ryder Lafferty (155)
  9. Grant Davis (140)
  10. Jesse Ansley (124)

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