MORGANTOWN, W.Va - The 2016 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series presented by Maxxis, an AMA National Championship, travels to the scenic Snowshoe Mountain this weekend, June 25 and 26, for the 10th Annual AMSOIL Snowshoe GNCC. Modeled after the famed Blackwater 100 race, the Snowshoe GNCC is known for being "America's toughest race" and the world's most talented motorcycle off-road talent will tackle the rough and rugged terrain for the ninth round of the GNCC circuit.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing/Bel-Ray's Josh Strang leads the way into the Snowshoe GNCC after a big win just two weeks ago in New York. Strang has spent the first half of the season proving that he is ready to add another championship to his resume and will contend for the win this Sunday.
However, a win will not come easy for Strang because FMF/KTM Factory Racing's Kailub Russell will be a man-on-a-mission as he will look to take back over the points championship. The defending champion isn't willing to just hand over the championship and will look to repeat his 2015 Snowshoe overall win this weekend.
After a solid ride at the Tomahawk GNCC, Westfield Powersports KTM Presented by Moose Racing's Jordan Ashburn now sits tied for fourth with JCR Honda/Lucas Oil/Maxxis/FLY Racing's Chris Bach. While Bach will be sitting out this race due to back injury sustained earlier this season, Ashburn will have his eyes set on fully securing the fourth place position. As the season wears on Ashburn has become more comfortable with his new KTM ride and has proven to be a podium contender at the last few races and even landed a spot on the Snowshoe GNCC podium in 2015.
"I've always like Snowshoe, I've had a couple podiums there and I'd like to get my first win there," said Ashburn. "The starting order is totally different from the other rounds and the track is normally longer than we are used to. Of course, the conditions are always unpredictable and up-in-the-air, but we will be ready for whatever."
Rocky Mountain ATV*MC/KR4 Arrive-N-Ride Team's Thad Duvall is eager to return to the box after a rough ride in New York. The West Virginia native has had his fair share of issues this year, but is no stranger to the conditions that will be present this weekend as he will be looking to stand on the box at the conclusion of the three-hour race.
Ranked just one point behind Duvall is SRT/KTM/Kenda Tires' Steward Baylor Jr. With one podium finish behind him, Steward Baylor is eager to earn another this weekend at Snowshoe.
N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha's Grant Baylor and MCS Racing Suzuki/Obermeyer/Kenda/MX Tech/Fly Racing's Ricky Russell round out the top ten heading into this weekend's race. Both riders come into the Snowshoe GNCC after personal best races in New York and will look to repeat their success this Sunday.
"Snowshoe is one of my favorite tracks," said Grant Baylor. "It just depends on how many technical sections are in the course. The more technical it is the more I like it and I've had some pretty good results there in the past."
JCR Honda/Lucas Oil/Maxxis/FLY Racing's Trevor Bollinger will start on the first row in the mix of XC1 Pro riders where he currently sits an impressive third overall and leads the XC2 Pro Lites points championship. Coastal Racing/Husqvarna/MSR's Craig Delong will look to use the adjusted time to his advantage and earn another XC2 Pro Lites class win. After capturing second place on his brand-new ride, Solid Performance KTM's Jesse Groemm will be charging hard for the victory this weekend, but he will be accompanied by Coastal Racing/Husqvarna/MSR's Layne Michael and Trail Jesters Racing's Ben Kelley who will also have their eyes set on taking the win.
"Snowshoe is by far my favorite track," said Bollinger. "I really wanted to get a good overall position in New York so that I could start on the first row with Russell and Strang and the other XC1 Pro guys. I feel like it's pretty hard to get a bad start there and that's something I usually struggle with so we should be pretty strong at Snowshoe."
Sunday's race schedule is as follows: youth bike racing begins at 8 a.m., followed by amateurs and women at 10 a.m. and pros and top amateurs at 1 p.m.
Adult (12+) gate admission is $25 for the full weekend and $15 for kids (6-11), with kids five and under free for the full weekend. Gate admission includes pro pit access and pro autographs at no additional charge in addition to a free ski lift ticket, so fans can enjoy the race action below as they glide through the sky.
Local racers are invited to compete at this event, as GNCC Racing offers classes for riders of all skill and experience levels. The amateur race entry fee is $40 and riders can sign up at the track. To learn more about GNCC Racing please visit the GNCC101 webpage.
Local racers expected to compete this Sunday will be Jacob Coope Sr. r (4-Stroke C Lites), Craig Daft (Open B), Kenny Hawkins (Super Senior A 45+), Brenden Poling (4-Stroke B Lites), Alec Karlen (4-Stroke C Lites) and Coalton Raines (125 B/C).
For a complete schedule of the weekend's activities, please visit the AMSOIL Snowshoe GNCC event page on the series website by clicking HERE.
Tune into RacerTV.com on Sunday at 1 p.m. EST to catch LIVE coverage of the Pro Bike race. For more information on GNCC Live coverage, visit www.racertv.com.
For more information on the series, visit the official website at www.gnccracing.com or call (304) 284-0084. Join the conversation on the series Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and be sure to always hashtag #GNCCLIVE.