The 2020 Grand National Cross Country GNCC Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship, finished out its season on Sunday, November 8, 2020, with the inaugural AMSOIL Buckwheat 100 event in Newburg, West Virginia. With unseasonal weather throughout the entire weekend, temperatures in the high 70’s helped heat up the season finale of racing.
After three-hours of intense racing at the GNCC season finale it would be AmPro Yamaha’s Steward Baylor Jr. standing atop the podium for his fourth overall win of the season. Baylor would battle throughout the day and he would ultimately cross the finish line second, however, FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley, who crossed the finish line first, was given a one position penalty placing him second overall.
Kelley would work his way back from a fourth place start on the opening lap, moving into third and then second before battling for the lead position. Baylor and Kelley would continue to engage in a heated battle all the way to the checkered flag.
Babbitt’s Online/Monster/Energy/Kawasaki’s Jordan Ashburn got a great jump off the line grabbing the $250 All Balls Racing XC1 holeshot award. Ashburn would lead the pack of XC1 Open Pro riders into the woods, and he would continue to lead the race for the first two laps of racing. Ashburn would then fall back to third overall, but he would push for the remainder of the race to hold onto that final podium position.
Earning fourth overall on the day was FactoryONE Sherco’s Grant Baylor. When the green flag flew, Baylor found himself towards the back of the pack but would battle throughout the day to make his way up front. Baylor physically crossed the finish line in fifth, but after a penalty to a fellow XC1 competitor he would be credited with fourth at the final race of the 2020 GNCC season.
Rounding out the top five overall finishers was AmPro Yamaha’s Layne Michael. After working his way up to fourth from a seventh place start to the day, an on track incident would move him back to fifth overall. This is Michael’s third-straight fifth place finish overall. Michael remains seventh in the points standings for the XC1 Open Pro class.
Three riders will be credited with eighth place finishes after reviewing and assessing penalties on the day. Phoenix Honda Racing’s Andrew Delong was having a good race running sixth as the checkered flag flew, however Delong was penalized two positions for two separate on-track occurrences. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thad Duvall found himself running in second during the first part of the race, though as he came around on lap four, he would find himself running ninth. Duvall put his head down and pushed making some necessary passes but would ultimately be one of the three riders credited with an eighth place finish after crossing the line in seventh.
As the checkered flag waved, Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Josh Strang physically crossed the finish line ninth overall but would be credited with an eighth place finish on the day. As the two lap board came out Strang found himself running fourth, but on that lap, he would have to make a longer-than-normal pit stop as he had found that his rear brake line had burst.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Trevor Bollinger made his return to the GNCC Racing circuit after missing the season due to a knee injury. Bollinger was off to a good start as he ran inside the top five for the first part of the race. As the checkered flag flew Bollinger would be credited with a ninth place finish on the day, after a one position penalty was assessed. Rounding out the top 10 in the XC1 Open Pro class was KLM Kawasaki’s Evan Earl. Earl had a consistent race running inside the XC1 top 10 for the duration of the three-hour race.
XC1 Pro Event Results:
- Steward Baylor Jr. (YAM)
- Benjamin Kelley (KTM)
- Jordan Ashburn (KAW)
- Grant Baylor (SHR)
- Layne Michael (YAM)
8. Andrew Delong (HON)
8. Thad Duvall (HQV)
8. Josh Strang (KAW)
9. Trevor Bollinger (HQV)
10. Evan Earl (KAW)
*Overall National Championship Standings:
- Kailub Russell (295)
- Josh Strang (253)
- Jordan Ashburn (206)
- Steward Baylor Jr. (188)
- Craig Delong (186)
- Benjamin Kelley (178)
- Michael Witkowski (175)
- Grant Baylor (170)
- Jonathan Girroir (146)
- Cody Barnes (134)
Photo Credit: Ken Hill
For more information: www.GNCCRacing.com