Kailub Russell Back On Top At Dunlop High Point GNCC
Round six, the Dunlop High Point GNCC, of the 2020 Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship, concluded on Sunday, June 14 at High Point Raceway in Pennsylvania.
After seven laps and three-hours of racing it was FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell earning the overall win by 11.5 seconds. Russell would just miss out on grabbing the XC1 holeshot, but would waste no time moving into the number one spot as they headed into the woods. Russell maintained his lead for the duration of the race, clinching his fifth overall win of the season.
Starting at the back of the pack on lap one, Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Josh Strang was on a mission to get to the front and battle for another win. Strang would make the necessary passes and move into second place on the fourth lap of racing, however Strang would run out of time to close the gap between Russell and himself. After six rounds of racing, Strang sits 28 points behind Russell in the National Championship points standings.
FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley returned to racing after suffering a shoulder injury at the start of the season. Kelley made his way across the finish line in third overall after battling for the full length of the three-hour race. With his shoulder injury in the past, Kelley will be looking to battle at the front of the pack for the rest of the season.
Earning fourth overall at High Point was Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jordan Ashburn. Ashburn has been having a great season, and currently sits third in the points standings. Ashburn battled for a top position at the start of the race, and would continue to battle all the way to the checkered flag.
FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth worked his way back through the pack to finish fifth in XC1 after falling back to the eighth place position at one point in the race. Toth has finished in the fifth place position at the past three events after missing the first three rounds of the season due to a leg injury. Toth holds onto eighth in the points standings, but will be aiming to improve that standing as the season continues.
Visiting from the West Coast was RPM KTM’s Dante Oliveira. As the checkered flag flew Oliveira came through to finish sixth in the XC1 Open Pro class, and 16th overall on the day. Oliveira battled back from the ninth place position to try and battle for a top five finish at his first GNCC race.
FactoryONE Sherco’s Grant Baylor was battling for a top three position for majority of the race, but as the white flag came out his bike was visibly smoking. After fighting for a top spot, Baylor would end up unable to complete the seventh and final lap of racing, placing him seventh in the XC1 Open Pro class. Rockhill Powersports/Ti Dezigns/UFO Plast’s Evan Earl would run in 10th for majority of the day, but come through with six laps complete in the eight place position.
Running fifth for majority of the day was Phoenix Honda Racing’s Andrew DeLong. As DeLong continued to battle towards the front of the pack, but a mechanical issue would sideline him with just five laps complete for a ninth place finish in the XC1 class.
AmPro Yamaha’s Layne Michael grabbed the $250 All Balls Racing XC1 Holeshot Award to start out the day, and would continue running in the second place position for the first three laps. However, while out on the fourth lap of racing Michael would suffer a crash results in a dislocated shoulder. Michael would be unable to return to racing, ultimately putting him in the 10th place position in XC1.
In the XC2 250 Pro class it was AmPro Yamaha/St. Lawrence Radiology’s Mike Witkowski coming through to earn his second class win of the season. Witkowski now takes over the points lead in the XC2 class, and will look to continue battling for wins to clinch the championship at the end of the season.
Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Craig DeLong worked his way through the pack after an eighth place start to the day. DeLong would put his head down, and focus on making the passes necessary to move through the riders. DeLong would move into fourth and then third with a last lap pass that would put him into second place as the checkered flag came out.
Earning his best finish of the season with a third in the XC2 class was Tely Energy Racing/KTM’s Liam Draper. Throughout the race Draper found himself at the front of the class, battling for three-hours straight to hold onto his podium finishing position.
Coming through first in the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class was Raines Riding University/Fly Racing/Yamaha’s Jason Raines. Jumping out to the early lead Raines would never look back as the race wore on. Raines earned his third win of the season, and sits second in the points standings.
Moose Racing/Carolina KTM/XC Gear’s Zack Hayes came through to take the second place position in XC3 at High Point. Hayes would have his work cut out for him as he started the day back in sixth. Hayes moved towards the front, but would run out of time to battle for the lead. Hayes remains the points leader in the FMF XC3 class with six rounds of racing complete.
Holding onto third in the FMF XC3 class was Larson’s Cycles/Fly Racing/Shoei Helmet’s Nathan Ferderer. After running second in the class, Ferderer would be faced with a battle between himself and Hayes. Ferderer would hold onto third to finish out the day in Pennsylvania.
The Dunlop High Point GNCC’s AMSOIL Moto Hero was awarded to Vet A rider, Louis Olian. Louis hails from Lancaster, Ohio and serves in the United States Marine Corps. He has served three tours in Iraq, and has worked as a combat engineer, machine gunner and bomb sweeper. Louis was awarded a free set of Kanati Lite truck tires from GBC Tires, a $250 AMSOIL shopping spree, and a commemorative American flag courtesy of Columbia Flag & Sign Company as well as a $200 gift certificate for their store. Thank you for your service Louis, we are proud to have you as part of our GNCC Racing family.
In the 10 a.m. race it was Rockstar Energy/LanMills XC/Husqvarna Racing’s Tayla Jones battling back to take her first WXC class win of the season. Jones worked her way up to the lead from a third place start to the day. Jones faced a tough battle to get to the lead as fellow WXC competitor Factory Beta USA’s Rachel Gutish held the lead for the majority of the race. Gutish would be the first to run into lapped riders, and on the last lap she would find herself back into fourth to cross the finish line.
BABS Racing Yamaha/Maxxis’ Becca Sheets and Enduro Engineering/MEPMX/Fly Racing/KTM’s Mackenzie Tricker would capitalize as lapped riders got into the mix of the front runners. Sheets would move into second with Trick making her way to third in the WXC class. Sheets remains in the points lead after earning the first five WXC class wins of the season.
Taking home the youth overall win at High Point was Team Green Kawasaki’s Grant Davis. This is Davis’ fourth overall win of the season, and in the YXC1 Super Mini Sr. class. Davis sits first in the points standings, with fellow Kawasaki competitor, Jack Joy sitting second. Joy would come through to take second in the youth overall and YXC1 class, with Pennsylvania native, Lane Whitmer, coming through to earn third overall on the day.
Rounds 7 and 8 of the GNCC Racing Series will be held the weekend of June 27/28 at the John Penton in Millfield, OH and the weekend of July 11/12 at the Hoosier GNCC in Crawfordsville, IN. The John Penton will be a Specialized eMTB round.