In another eventful weekend of Amsoil Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series racing, FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell clinched the 2019 National Championship. Although Russell, nursing a bad shoulder, was only able to complete four laps in the race compared to the rest of the field, he was still able to claim his seventh consecutive XC1 title. His main title rival, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's Thad Duvall, suffered a torn ACL in a practice crash a few days before the race and wasn't able to compete. Thus Russell, who held a 47-point lead heading into the race, was able to claim the crown. Russell, also earned the 60th overall win of his career at the Black Sky GNCC on September 14, which is the all-time record for GNCC bike wins.
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7 in a row...Although a tough race for myself today. I re-aggravated my shoulder that I had operated on last October, in a practice crash on Wednesday. It has been swollen, stiff and painful at times since the crash which leads me to believe there could be some structural damage. I gave my best for the first half of the race, but the rock littered course became to challenging for my weakening shoulder. I started loosing feel and control to my front end and becoming uncomfortable trying to maneuver my bike. So becoming champion by default at the start of the day as Thad is sitting out injured, I decided there was nothing more for me to gain and only the chance of possibly creating a bigger setback for the future. Congratulations to @benkelley530 on his first overall win in only his second attempt! I’m sure we are going to have lots of battles in the very near future. I can only hope he doesn’t break all my records because he is “legit”!
Russell isn't the only rider continuing to write their name into the history books. Trail Jesters KTM’s Ben Kelley earned the first overall win of his career. Kelley clinched the XC2 National Championship following the Black Sky GNCC following 10 wins in 10 starts in 2019 and elected to move up to the XC1 class instead of going for a never-been-done-before perfect season. Kelley had mechanical issues in his XC1 debut at the Mason-Dixon GNCC last month but was able to bounce back yesterday to take his first overall checkered flag of his career.
It wasn't easy, as it appeared Steward Baylor was headed for the victory on Sunday until a mechanical problem dropped him from the race on the final lap. Kelley, who was doing his best to shadow Baylor all day, inherited the lead and held it to the end, scoring the overall in just his second start in the class.
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Unreal! Honestly a little speechless. My first ever XC1 and @gncc_racing overall win! This one means a lot. Something I’m most stoked about and proud of in my career as a professional dirt bike racer to date. I got a little bit of a gift as @slbaylor5 unfortunately had a dnf on the last lap after leading the whole race. He was on it today. Awesome to be up front battling with the best in the US. To top it off a podium sweep by the USA Junior World Trophy Team ??
Trail Jesters KTM’s Jesse Ansley earned his sixth XC3 class win of 2019 and clinched the FMF XC3 125 National Championship for the second consecutive year.
The 13th and final round of the 2019 Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series, the Ironman GNCC, will take place on October 27, 2019, at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana.