Steward Baylor Jr. (KTM) Claims First Overall GNCC Win of 2023 at Big Buck
Main image by Mack Faint
The following press release is from GNCC Racing:
VP Racing Fuels Big Buck: Motorcycle Race Report
Steward Baylor Earns Round One Win in South Carolina
UNION, S.C. – The Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship, (GNCC Racing) concluded its season opener on Sunday, February 19, 2023. The VP Racing Fuels Big Buck GNCC saw 2,029 riders throughout the weekend.
As the green flag waved for the XC1 Open Pro riders, it was FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Jonathan Girroir getting the jump off the line and across the holeshot line for to earn himself the $250 All Balls Racing XC1 Holeshot Award. However, it wouldn’t take long for Rocky Mountain/Tely Energy KTM Racing’s Steward Baylor to make his way into the number one spot.
Aboard his new team and KTM machine, Baylor would continue to hold the lead for the duration of the three hour race. FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Benjamin Kelley would push his way into second, at one point catching Baylor and creating a 4 second gap between themselves. Unfortunately, Kelley would have a small tip over in the woods and the gap would increase once again. Baylor would cruise to earn the season opener win and put himself in a good position to battle for the National Championship.
Baylor has made a change to his own KTM team this year after two full seasons with AmPro Racing Yamaha.
“Man, it’s awesome I told myself I wasn’t gonna loop the bike because now I have to be conscious of the budget, but this South Carolina crowd was loud today,” Baylor said during the RacerTV broadcast. “This will be the last one.”
“Hell, it’s been stressful the last couple months,” he continued. “Parts aren’t coming in like we thought they would, so we’re scratching trying to get by. Luckily Rocky Mountain is able to stock almost everything, so we’ve been able to float by thanks to those guys. We’re wearing a lot of hats right now. For running a training facility, training kids, building a team and racing, I think we’re doing pretty good.”
Kelley would cross the line in second to start the season after a leg injury sidelined him in 2022. Kelley’s second place would not come easy though as AmPro Yamaha’s Ricky Russell would put up a fight. Russell would hold the second place position for the first couple of laps, but he would continue battling Kelley for the remaining laps of the race. Russell would close the gap to just five seconds but would be unable to make a pass for second. Russell would round out the podium at the Big Buck GNCC.
“Man, it was gnarly,” Kelley said on RacerTV. “It’s good to be back GNCC racing. I was in the back of the pack stuck, jus my kind of feeling it out. All the guys are good in the beginning, we were running like a freight train, and I just slowly picked off guys until I got into third. Stu had checked out of us, but Ricky and I had a good battle. I snuck by him right around the time to pit, lap 3, but he stayed on my wheel. I was just pushing to stay smooth, stay off the ground and try to break away from him. He kept hounding me. I finally got enough time and caught up to Stu when we went to pit, we pitted different laps. But by then I was gassed. He played it smart and got out front. I had nothing left and did all I could to stay on the track. To come out with P2 is more than I expected. I kinda had the mindset to just get points today but once you’re out there, you have pride. It just came down to will power today.”
“I got really tight at the beginning, trying to keep up with Stu,” Russell said told RacerTV. “He was going really fast at the beginning, and I’m trying to be older and wiser and not crash like a lot of people do at Big Buck. Ben got around me, and I was able to latch on, it really wasn’t too bad. I was looking for a way to get by him, but a lapper got in the way and I crashed. Not too bad. Speed was there I just gotta work on the little things in the last hour.
“I’m four weeks out of surgery on a collarbone so I hope I just get stronger and stronger from here,” Russell continued. “We honestly didn’t know if I’d be able to race. To get out of here with a podium at round one, I’ll take it.”
Magna1 Motorsports/Husqvarna’s Jordan Ashburn, the defending GNCC National Champion, would battle his way up to fourth after starting back in the sixth place position. Ashburn would steadily work his way through the pack, crossing the line just seven seconds off of Russell.
Coming through to take fifth overall at the opening round was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Craig Delong. As the race got underway DeLong would find himself running mid-pack in seventh on the opening couple of laps. As the race continued on DeLong would make the necessary passes to move into a top five spot as the checkered flag flew.
Aboard a new team for the 2023 season, Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green’s Grant Baylor came through to earn sixth overall on the day. Baylor, who missed the final two rounds of 2022 due to injury, came back on a new machine ready to battle.
Coastal GASGAS Factory Racing’s Thad Duvall would come through seventh on the day after starting at the back of the pack in 10th place. Duvall would work his way up to eighth and then make a pass for seventh as the two-lap card came out. Duvall remained seventh until the checkered flag flew.
Fighting his way back to eighth in the XC1 Open Pro class was Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green’s Josh Strang. After starting out eighth in the class, Strang would fall back to 10th before making a push back to eighth by the end of the race. GASGAS/FXR’s Layne Michael would come through to earn ninth in the class aboard his new GASGAS machine. After earning the holeshot Girroir would run fourth for the first couple of laps before having to make an extended pit stop and falling back to 10th in the XC1 Open Pro class.
Our friends from the Japan National Cross Country (JNCC) Series came to race the Big Buck GNCC. Daiki Baba and Ryota Suzuki made their way to the United States to take part in round of the 2023 GNCC season, where they finished 11th and 12th in the XC1 class.
Unfortunately for Rocky Mountain/Tely Energy KTM Racing’s Ben Nelko, he would only complete one lap of the race before his race day ended. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Trevor Bollinger was also unable to finish the race after completing one lap, Bollinger would suffer what looked to be a wrist injury.
In the XC2 250 Pro class it was Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki Team Green’s Lyndon Snodgrass jumping off the line first to earn the $250 Steel City Men’s Clinic Holeshot Award. The XC2 class have some great racing battles throughout the day with lead changes happening throughout the duration of the race. Snodgrass would hold the lead for the majority of the race, but Coastal/GASGAS Factory Racing’s Ryder Lafferty was lurking and would make a last lap pass to take over the lead.
Lafferty would hold onto the lead to take the season opener win. Snodgrass would come through five seconds behind Lafferty. FMF/RPM KTM Racing’s Angus Riordan made his way onto the XC2 class podium after battling back from a fourth place start to take over third as the checkered flag flew.
As the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class took off it was Bells Electric/FXR/FC Suspension’s Toby Cleveland grabbing the $100 Lojak Cycle Sales Holeshot Award. Cleveland would hold onto the lead for the remaining six laps of the race. FXR/X Brand Goggles/6D Helmet’s Dakoda Devore would maintain his second place position for the duration of the race, crossing the line minutes after Cleveland. Carolina XC/Moose Racing/KTM’s Zack Hayes would work his way into the last podium spot in the XC3 class after running in fourth for the firsts couple of laps.
Earning Top Amateur honors in South Carolina was Tyler Palmer of the 250 A class who earned 24th overall and his class win. Trevor Maley came through second in 250 A and 26th overall, putting him second on the Top Amateur podium. Nicholas DeFeo would round out the top three Top Amateur finishers as he came through 27th overall and first in the 4-Stroke A Lites class.
In the WXC class it was Trail Jesters KTM Racing’s Korie Steede pushing through to earn the 10 am overall and WXC class win. Steede would start out the day by earning the $100 Trail Jesters WXC Holeshot Award but would soon find herself in second as AmPro Yamaha’s Rachael Archer made her way to the front of the pack. Steede and Archer would battle throughout the race with Steede making a pass for the lead as the white flag flew. Steede was able to hold onto the lead and earn the WXC win by 0.76 seconds. GASGAS/Over and Out/RG Factory Racing’s Rachel Gutish would have a good race as she remained in the third place position for the duration.
Youth Bike Racing took place on Saturday evening as the round one racing schedule was modified to accommodate the large amount of amateur bike racers on Sunday. It would be Ryan Amancio coming through to earn the YXC1 Super Mini Sr. and youth overall class win. Earning second overall was Mason Raynor, who would come through to also win the YXC2 Super Mini Jr. class. Austin Tsakanikas rounded out the top three youth overall finishers, while also earning second place in the YXC1 class.
James Jenkins rounded out the top three finishers in the YXC1 class, while Caleb Wood and Doc Smith finished second and third in the YXC2 class. Jayden Riley would earn the 85 Big Wheel (11-15) class win, Travis Lentz earned the 85cc (12-13) class win, Hayden Dupuis earned the 85cc (7-11) class win, Beau Garetson won the 65cc (10-11) class, Jace Mitchell won the 65cc (9) class and Tripp Lewis won the 65cc (7-8) class. Then in the Girls Super Mini (12-16) class it was Addison Harris earning the class win, Sahara Robinson earned the Girls 85 (7-13) class win, Baylee Arsenault earned the Girls 65 (7-11) class win. Rounding out the youth race it was Peyton Robinson earning the Trail Rider class win.
The Big Buck AMSOIL Moto Hero was awarded to Kyle Napier of Hyden, Kentucky. Napier served in the Army. He served twice in Afghanistan in the Operation Enduring Freedom. He is a purple heart recipient and has one arcom with valor, along with two presidential citations. Kyle and his friend have also walked over 22 miles between counties to honor fallen veterans who have died by suicide. Kyle was awarded an American flag courtesy of Columbia Flag and Sign Co., plus a gift certificate to their online store. He also received an AMSOIL Shopping spree certificate, 100% Goggles, and will receive a set of Kanati GBC truck tires. GNCC racing would like to thank Kyle and everyone for their service.
The next round of GNCC Racing will take place March 4-5 with the Moose Racing Wild Boar in Palatka, Florida.
For more information on the GNCC Series, visit the official website at www.gnccracing.com or call (304) 284-0084. Join the conversation and be sure to always hashtag #GNCC.
- Facebook: @gnccracing
- Instagram: @gncc_racing
- Twitter: @gnccracing
- YouTube: @racertv
VP Racing Fuels Big Buck Results and Points Standings
Union, South Carolina
Round 1 of 12
Sunday, February 19, 2023
XC1 Pro Event Results:
Big Buck - Overall RaceFebruary 18, 2023
|1||Steward Baylor||02:47:19.199||Belton, SC||KTM|
|2||Ben Kelley||02:47:54.000||Harwinton, CT||KTM|
|3||Ricky Russell||02:47:59.000||Duvall, WA||Yamaha|
|4||Jordan Ashburn||02:48:06.000||Cookeville, TN||Husqvarna|
|5||Craig Delong||02:48:26.000||Morgantown, PA||Husqvarna|
Big Buck - XC2 Pro RaceFebruary 18, 2023
|1||Ryder Lafferty||02:49:36.000||Millville, NJ||GasGas|
|3||Angus Riordan||02:50:16.000||Woodland, CA||KTM|
Big Buck - XC3 Pro-Am RaceFebruary 18, 2023
|1||Toby Cleveland||02:58:46.898||Erin, NY||Yamaha|
|2||Dakoda Devore||03:00:55.779||Uhrichsville, OH||KTM|
|3||Zack Hayes||03:03:28.159||Sumter, SC||KTM|
|4||Jason Lipscomb||03:07:59.837||Parkersburg, WV||Beta|
|5||Sawyer Carratura||03:15:49.695||Allison Park, PA||Yamaha|
Big Buck - WXC RaceFebruary 18, 2023
|1||Korie Steede||01:55:47.019||Beloit, OH||KTM|
|3||Rachel Gutish||02:02:11.379||Terre Haute, IN||GasGas|
|4||Shelby A Turner||02:04:35.690||Barons, AB||KTM|
|5||Prestin Raines||02:12:11.437||Travelers Rest, SC||Yamaha|