The Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship, is set for a dramatic conclusion in two weeks at the Ironman GNCC in Indiana. FMF KTM’s Ben Kelley fired back with a clutch win on Sunday to claim the AMSOIL Buckwheat 100, which vaulted him back into the points lead over AmPro Yamaha’s Steward Baylor, but Baylor claimed second, leaving the duo separated by just four points with one race to go. The difference between a win and a second in a GNCC race is five points.
“Feels like it’s been forever, Stu’s been killing it,” said Kelley. “I think he got the holeshot and I didn’t get the best jump, but I got into third quick behind Jordan [Ashburn]. We were able to reel Stu in, the track was gnarly as it probably wasn’t easy to lead the first lap. Then he went down and I was able to get around Jordan. Yeah I just kind of charged and rode strong—focused on myself and not crashing. I’ve been crashing too much just from not staying focused. So I’m glad I was able to do that, stayed off the ground.”
“It’s just one of those days,” said Baylor. “I felt like I had good speed. Early on I could gain a lot of time, then just stupid stuff. Little mistakes, unforeseen front-end push and I’d end up in a tree. Had one big crash and that was kind of the game changer. Some days you’re on the track and everything clicks, and some days it just doesn’t. Today was one of those days, and it sucks being this close to the championship, I felt like we had the most dominant year, and we’re not showing it. I had to sit out of round one and we had a failure at round two. As this winds down you start thinking about all the money it’s costing you if you’re not winning. Sucks to say it like that. But we’ll be ready for Ironman, I’ve done really well the last few times there. I think we won that race two of the last three times we lined up. We’re looking forward to that and we’re going to have fun either way.”
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 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 came 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.
On lap three, Kelley had made the move to the lead and then held it 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.
“It’s wild,” said Kelley. “It’s like win or lose, I’ve gotta beat him, he’s gotta beat me. We’re both going to be sending it, and I feel like we both like Ironman. It’s going to be crazy for sure, but I’m just going to try to do what I did today.
After a season of injuries, 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, so he jumped off the bike and pushed the motorcycle across the finish line, just holding off AmPro Yamaha’s Layne Michael.
“Yeah it was good, I was riding my own race and then I had a huge crash again! I don’t know! I’ve got to stop crashing!” said Duvall. “Dropped back to sixth or seventh, and I was like , “Man, what are you doing? Are you going to get on the podium today or what?” So I just hammered those last two or three laps and gave it everything that I had. Caught Layne [Michael] and it was a duel. It was funny, we grew up not too far away from each other, we’ve been battling since we were kids, and I was like “What’s the odds of two kids from just down the road from here battling for a podium?” We had a moment over here before the FMF Powerpoint, we both hit, lines came together. Yeah it was wild. I think he went down and that gave me a cushion going to the finish. I had a problem and I had to push it across the line. Got my heart rate up a bit! It was good, this is like a monkey off my back to finally be up here again. Starting to feel more normal, but I’ve got to be better. I need to be with these guys off the beginning.”
West Virginia native 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.
In the 10 a.m. race it was the Enduro Engineering/MEPMX/Fly Racing/XC Gear’s Mackenzie Tricker grabbing another $100 Trail Jesters Holeshot Award and lead the pack of women pro rider through the woods for the opening lap. However, it was the BABS Racing Yamaha/Fly Racing/Maxxis/Pro Circuit’s Becca Sheets making the pass on Tricker during the second lap. Sheets would continue to push as AmPro Yamaha’s Rachael Archer made her way into second. Sheets and Archer who are battling for the WXC National Championship, would swap the lead position throughout the remainder of the race.
As the white flag flew it was Archer out front with Sheets ready to strike in second, and as the pair made their way through the woods Sheets would emerge in the lead position with a six second lead over Archer as they came through the finish line. Sheets holds a 7-point lead over Archer as they head into the final race of the 2021 season.
Coming through to earn another podium finish was Team Green Kawasaki’s Korie Steede. As the race got underway Steede found herself in second, but she would be unable to hold off Sheets and Archer. Steede would battle back between the third and fourth place positions, ultimately pushing for the podium position as the checkered flag flew.
A familiar face would take the overall win in the 10 a.m. race from the Sportsman A class, as former XC1 Pro racer Andrew Delong made an appearance at this year’s Buckwheat 100 GNCC. Delong would be joined by Zach Nolan, former XC2 racer, as he came through second overall and in the Sportsman A class.
In the 8 a.m. youth race it was the No. 550 KTM of Cole Forbes coming through to earn his 10th youth overall and YXC1 Super Mini Sr. class win of the season. Earning second in the youth race was South Carolina’s Nick DeFeo. DeFeo currently sits second in the points standings, and he continues to battle for the lead as the series heads into the finale in two weeks. Thor Powell came through to earn the third youth overall finishing position and third in the YXC1 class.
In the YXC2 Super Mini Jr. class it was Peyton Feather taking the class win with Van Gosselin and Ryan Amancio earning second and third in the class. Ryder Sigety took the win in the 85cc (12-13) class win, while Jiggs Fustini earned the 85cc (7-11) class win. Nash Peerson came through to earn the 65cc (10-11) class win with Hunter Hawkinberry coming through first in the 65cc (7-9) class. Korah Jones took the Girls (8-15) class win over Ellie Winland and Ruby Fustini. Brady Isner finished first in the youth trail rider class.
This wekeend's AMSOIL Moto Hero was awarded to Charleston, West Virginia's Sam Stamper. Sam races in the Warrior Bike class during the 10 a.m. race on Sunday's and is currently ranked fourth with six top three finishes in the class this season. Sam serves in the United States Army, and he has served two combat tours in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Sam continues to serve his country, and has been for 10 years now. He has continued to help serve through the pandemic and aid in the COVID-19 relief. Sam will receive a set of GBC Kanati Truck Tires, an AMSOIL Shopping Spree, 100% Goggles, ARMA Blitz Kit and an American Flag courtesy of Columbia Flag & Sign Co.
Buckwheat 100 GNCC Results
Newburg, West Virginia
Round 12 of 13
Sunday, October 10, 2021
|1||Ben Kelley||Harwinton, CT United States||KTM|
|2||Steward Baylor||Belton, SC United States||Yamaha|
|3||Layne Michael||Fairmont, WV United States||Yamaha|
|4||Thad Duvall||Williamstown, WV United States||Husqvarna|
|5||Jordan Ashburn||Cookeville, TN United States||Husqvarna|
|1||Jonathan Girroir||Southwick, MA United States||GasGas|
|3||Craig Delong||Morgantown, PA United States||Husqvarna|
|5||Ryder Lafferty||Millville, NJ United States||GasGas|
|1||Hunter Neuwirth||Plantation, FL United States||KTM|
|2||Jason Lipscomb||Parkersburg, WV United States||KTM|
|3||Jake Froman||Lynnville, IN United States||Husqvarna|
|4||Eli Childers||Hickory, NC United States||Yamaha|
|5||Michael J Pillar||Dover, OH United States||GasGas|
|1||Becca N Sheets||Circleville, OH United States||Yamaha|
|2||Rachael Archer||New Zealand||Yamaha|
|3||Korie Steede||Beloit, OH United States||Kawasaki|
|4||Mackenzie Tricker||Travelers Rest, SC United States||KTM|
|5||Rachel Gutish||Terre Haute, IN United States||Kawasaki|