CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind.—Round 12 of the 2020 Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship, concluded at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana on Sunday, October 25. Coming through to take his second overall win of the season was Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Josh Strang.
Strang steadily made his way through the pack after starting in the third place position. After moving into second Strang would set his sights on the lead position, and he would battle throughout the fourth lap to take over the number one spot. Strang would continue to lead the last four laps of racing, but not without pressure from AmPro Yamaha’s Steward Baylor Jr.
Strang and Baylor Jr. continued to battle on the last lap, but after an incident on Ironman hill Baylor Jr. would find himself falling behind Strang as they came through the motocross track to take the checkered flag. Baylor Jr. held the lead for the first three laps of racing before Strang made the stick, but even after a crash on the hill he would remain 1.5 seconds ahead of third overall.
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Ironman never fails with a great crowd, wish I could have pulled it off but a mishap on the last lap ruined any shot I had, rookie mistake while racing with the old man @joshstrang but I had an awesome time with close racing all day long! After 3 hours less than 15 seconds separated the top 4. Swipe left to see my bonehead move on the Ironman hill, just missed my line by a couple feet found myself not moving anymore with one option, to go back to the bottom and try again! @yamahamotorusa @yamahamotorusa @circle_m_racing @ls147 @shoeihelmetsusa @formabootsusa @xbrandgoggles @officialmooseracing @ridedunlop @teamkoutfitters @g2ergonomics @fasstcompany @srtoffroad @wickflow @offroadperformancecoach @airbowmd @the_shoals_mx @liveitxtreme @uswesports @jdp_suspension trammel tire, my amazing wife @jade_baylor and all the fans out there keeping me going! @kenhill127 📸
FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley worked his way up after running seventh on the opening laps of racing. Kelley make the necessary passes to move up through the pack, and he would close the gap between him and Baylor Jr. as the white flag flew. Kelley moves into seventh overall in the points standings after missing the first half of the season.
“Today was crazy, the track was super-fast and the whole XC1 pack was all together and going really fast," said Kelley in a KTM press release. "I struggled in the beginning to find a flow but about halfway through I picked it up and I felt really fast but it’s hard going through the pack when everyone is riding well. I’m happy with how I rode in the second half. I know I can win and I’m riding good, I’m just kind of working out of a slump but there’s one more race and I’m going to do all I can to get that win.”
Coming through to take fourth overall on the day was FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell. Russell found himself towards the front of the XC1 Open Pro riders at the beginning of the race but would make a mistake halfway through losing some valuable time with the leaders. Russell would continue to push on, ultimately coming through 7 seconds behind his teammate Kelley.
“I felt pretty good at the beginning but I made a little mistake and Stu got around me so I was keying off of him," Russell said in a team statement. "We caught lappers on the second lap and I got tangled up with the first guy we came up to and I went down, jammed my throttle tube and my throttle was hanging up a little bit so I had to ride with it a lap and half before we pitted. It was tough to ride with that; I lost my mojo a little bit. I got it back to where it wasn’t sticking anymore but I lost a good amount of time in the pits. I’m not super pumped with the day, I had a couple mistakes and put myself out of it there for a little bit but I’m happy we clawed back into the fight and at least that’s something to be proud of.”
Another rider that found himself towards the front early on in the race was AmPro Yamaha’s Layne Michael. On lap four, Michael came through timing and scoring holding onto third overall but as the race worse on he would find himself falling back two positions to take fifth overall on the day.
FactoryONE Sherco’s Grant Baylor was making moves throughout the duration of the race after coming through timing and scoring in eighth on the opening lap. Baylor would continue to push, as he made his way up to sixth overall after a hard-fought battle at this year’s Ironman event. Baylor continues to hold onto sixth in the XC1 Open Pro class standings.
Earning seventh on the day was Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Jordan Ashburn. After coming through fifth on lap one, Ashburn would have his work cut out for him as a hungry pack of riders were right behind him. Ashburn found himself as far back as eighth at one point in the race and would then move into seventh on the day continuing to stay in that position until the checkered flag flew.
Phoenix Honda Racing’s Andrew Delong made a last lap pass to move into eighth after running ninth for majority of the race. While Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thad Duvall suffered a crash on the fifth lap and found himself back to eighth after running up in fifth for the first half of the race. KLM Kawasaki’s Evan Earl rounded out the top 10 in the XC1 class after steadily holding onto that position throughout the race.
“I got the holeshot and was riding really good but I made a mistake on the first lap and dropped back a little bit,” DuVall said in a press release from the team. “I put on a pretty good charge with Kailub up to third and we started to run the guys down up front but I had a big crash and kind of slowed myself down a little bit. After that, I just kind of put it on cruise control to make sure I was okay. We’ll regroup and head to the last GNCC ready to go.”
In the XC2 250 Pro class, it was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Craig Delong jumping out to grab the $100 Hot Cams XC2 Holeshot Award. Delong would then fall back to fifth in the class but would soon find himself picking off riders to make the pass for the lead on lap five. Delong would hold onto lead taking his fourth win of the season and regaining the class points lead as the series heads into its last round of racing.
“It was a wild day,” DeLong said in a team statement. “I was fifth for 3/4 of the race and then with an hour to go, I made it happen. It was an all-out sprint all day and the guys were riding awesome, it’s tough to make up time so you had to block everything out and just go for it. I’m definitely happy to get it done, it’s a lot of pressure but it feels good and now I just need to go out and do it all over again next weekend.”
Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Lyndon Snodgrass held the early lead but would soon face a battle with Trail Jesters KTM’s Jonathan Girroir. As the duo battle, Girroir would make the pass for the lead and hold onto it for one lap. Unfortunately, Girroir would crash towards the end of race and end up eleventh in his class. Snodgrass would regroup and continue to battle for a podium finish. Snodgrass would again make a last lap pass to regain second, landing himself his first podium finish in the XC2 class.
Rounding out the XC2 class podium in third was AmPro Yamaha’s Mike Witkowski. Witkowski would battle throughout the three-hour race at the front of the pack, but he would be unable to hold the lead. Witkowski moved into second on the last lap, but with Snodgrass hot on his heels he would be unable to hold him off. Witkowski came through to take third in his class, and now sits second in the points standings.
Taking the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class win Raines Riding University/Fly Racing/Yamaha’s Jason Raines. Coming through to earn second was the newly-crowned XC3 National Champion, Moose Racing/Carolina KTM/XC Gear’s Zack Hayes. Rounding out the podium in third was FXR/Husqvarna’s Jason Lipscomb.
Earning the top amateur honors was Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Joseph Cunningham after finishing 18th overall and first in the 250 A class. Dakoda Devore and Nathan Rector rounded out the top amateur podium with their 20th and 21st overall finishes.
In the 10 a.m. race it was AmPro Yamaha’s Rachael Archer coming through to earn her fifth overall win of the season. Archer would take the win, even after an incident with a lapper left her with a possible broken ankle. Factory Beta USA’s Rachel Gutish came through to take second in the WXC class followed by BABS Racing Yamaha/Maxxis’ Becca Sheets, who rounded out the WXC podium.
$5,000 was awarded to the Montgomery County Community Foundation with donations coming from Yamaha Racing, KTM North America, HBD Moto Grafix, and the GNCC Racing Nation as they contributed in purchasing Pink Ironman stickers and partaking in the Mullets for Mammies by Bottleneck Live contest.
Two highlight shows featuring ATVs and motorcycles will be featured on MAVTV at a later date.
For more information on the GNCC 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 #GNCC.
Round 12 of 13
Sunday, October 25, 2020