Russell earns 48th win at Big Buck

By: Special to The Union Times
Photo by Ken Hill Josh Strang grabbed the All Balls Racing $250 XC1 Holeshot at round one.
Photo by Ken Hill Kailub Russell and Thad Duvall battled to the checkered flag in South Carolina.
Photo by Ken Hill Josh Toth takes the early points lead in the XC2 250 Pro class as he goes for his second consecutive title.
Photo by Ken Hill After becoming the 250 A Champion last season, Alex Teagarden earned the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class win at round one.

UNION — Day two of the AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series, an AMA National Championship, racing action took place Sunday, February 25, at the Big Buck Farm in Union, South Carolina. Rain showers would take place earlier in the morning, but cloudy and cool conditions would make for the perfect conditions at the 1 p.m. pro bike start.

Anticipation was at a record high as the green flag flew for the VP Racing Fuels Big Buck GNCC season opener. Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Josh Strang would capture the All Balls Racing $250 XC1 Holeshot by edging out AmPro Yamaha’s Ricky Russell.

Thad Duvall put his Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna into the lead on lap one, while a pack of XC1 Pro riders assembled behind him. When they came through timing and scoring, the top five riders were just seconds apart. Duvall would hold that lead for the first two laps, but Tely Energy Racing/KTM’s Steward Baylor Jr was picking up the pace.

Baylor Jr would make the pass for the lead during the third lap, along with JCR Honda’s Trevor Bollinger moving into the number two spot. Duvall would find himself in the third place position at the halfway point, but he would have company from FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell.

Off the start K. Russell would find himself in an undesirable position as he came around on the first lap in the seventh place position. K. Russell would put his head down and push on to make the pass for the lead during lap four. News from the FMF PowerPoint was that Duvall and Baylor Jr were side by side, with K. Russell only a second behind them. When they emerged from the woods heading into the finish, K. Russell was in the lead followed by Duvall and Baylor Jr when the white flag came out.

Russell and Duvall would battle throughout the last lap, ultimately crossing the finish line just inches apart. Baylor Jr finished third overall, followed by Bollinger and Strang. KR4/Husqvarna and XC1 Pro Rookie Layne Michael finished out the day sixth in XC1 and eighth overall, followed by R. Russell. KR4/Husqvarna/GTR Complex rider Cory Buttrick returned to GNCC Racing and finished a strong eighth in class, and 13th overall.

Beta USA’s Jordan Ashburn put in a strong performance in the 2018 season opener where he finished ninth in XC1. Tely Energy Racing/KTM’s Grant Baylor finished 10th in the XC1 class, while Rockstar Energy/Leatt/Maxxis’ Ryan Sipes was running sixth before being forced to pull off due to bike issues.

Thirty-five riders lined up on the second row today, but it was AOMC/Fly Racing’s Sam Evans taking the Hot Cams $100 XC2 Holeshot. It wasn’t long before FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth took over the lead, followed by Trail Jesters/KTM Racing’s Ben Kelley and Coastal Racing/Husqvarna’s Pascal Rauchenecker following closely behind him. The top three at the beginning of the race, would stay that way until the checkered flag was thrown. M&E Honda/Fly Racing/Maxxis’ Austin Lee would start his season strong with a fourth place finish, followed by Coastal Racing/Husqvarna’s Craig Delong.

The FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class was filled with talented riders from the past and present. Riemer Inc/Lojak Cycles’ Hunter Riemer jumped off the line first earning the Wiseco FMF $100 XC3 Holeshot award. Coastal Racing/Husqvarna’s Alex Teagarden claimed the first win of the season after capturing the 250 A championship in 2017. Yamaha-backed rider, Cody Barnes, came across the finish in second followed by Armored Graphics/Maxxis/RX Suspension’s Dustin Simpson.

Brewer Cawley took home the top amateur honors at this weekend’s VP Racing Fuels Big Buck GNCC while Jojo Bowden and Chase Hayes finished second and third in the overall amateur podium.

As the 10 a.m. amateur race took off, it was KTM-mounted rider, MacKenzie Tricker who took the holeshot and early lead with Fly Racing/Maxxis/SeatConcepts/KTM rider, Becca Sheets and KR4/Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones in tow. Sheets would make the pass and hold the lead in WXC, but a last lap pass by Jones would give her the season opener win. Sheets and Tricker would round out the podium.

The 8 a.m. youth race would take to the track first this morning, where 208 youth racers headed into the South Carolina woods. When the checkered flag waved it was Peyton Whipkey, Grayson Lail and Max Fernandez standing on the podium.

The 1 p.m. pro bike race was broadcast LIVE in its entirety on RacerTV.com and can be viewed as archived video online by visiting the GNCC LIVE page online. A highlight show featuring the event will be aired on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday, April 1.

The 2018 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series resumes in two weeks March 10 and 11, in Palatka, Florida with the Moose Racing Wild Boar GNCC.

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.

Facebook: @gnccracing

Instagram: @gncc_racing

Twitter: @gnccracing

YouTube: @racertv

VP Racing Fuels Big Buck GNCC

Union, South Carolina

Round 1 of 13

Sunday, February 25

XC1 Open Pro Event Results

1. Kailub Russell (KTM)

2. Thad Duvall (HQV)

3. Steward Baylor Jr (KTM)

4. Trevor Bollinger (HON)

5. Josh Strang (HQV)

6. Layne Michael (HQV)

7. Ricky Russell (YAM)

8. Cory Buttrick (HQV)

9. Jordan Ashburn (BET)

10. Grant Baylor (KTM)

*Overall National Championship Standings

1. Kailub Russell (30)

2. Thad Duvall (25)

3. Steward Baylor Jr (21)

4. Trevor Bollinger (18)

5. Josh Strang (16)

6. Josh Toth (15)

7. Ben Kelley (14)

8. Layne Michael (13)

9. Pascal Rauchenecker (12)

10. Austin Lee (11)

*Indicates that the Overall National Championship Standings will determine the 2017 National Champion.

XC2 250 Pro Event Results

1. Josh Toth (KTM)

2. Ben Kelley (KTM)

3. Pascal Rauchenecker (HQV)

4. Austin Lee (HON)

5. Craig Delong (HQV)

6. Evan Smith (HQV)

7. Jonathan Johnson (YAM)

8. Trevor Barrett (YAM)

9. Liam Draper (HQV)

10. Cole Mattison (YAM)

XC2 250 Pro Series Standings

1. Josh Toth (30)

2. Ben Kelley (25)

3. Pascal Rauchenecker (21)

4. Austin Lee (18)

5. Craig Delong (16)

6. Evan Smith (15)

7. Jonathan Johnson (14)

8. Trevor Barrett (13)

9. Liam Draper (12)

10. Cole Mattison (11)

About GNCC Racing

The AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series is America’s premier off-road racing series. Founded in 1975, the 13-round championship is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross-country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The grueling three-hour GNCC races lead as many as 2,400 riders through tracks ranging in length from eight to 12 miles. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. The series draws talent from all over the U.S., Central America, South America, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. GNCC Racing is televised weekly on NBC Sports and RacerTV.com. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com.

How To Watch

Racer TV and NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) are the official homes for coverage of the AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) events. All 13 rounds, from the season opening Big Buck GNCC in South Carolina to the finale at Ironman Raceway in Indiana, will air in 30-minue; taped-delayed telecasts on NBCSN, while Racer TV provides live streaming coverage of the 1 p.m. ATV and motorcycle races from each event, in addition to the six UTV rounds. Catch all the action at http://www.nbcsports.com/ and http://www.racertv.com/.

About The American Motorcyclist Association

Founded in 1924, the AMA is a not-for-profit member-based association whose mission is to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. As the world’s largest motorcycling rights and event sanctioning organization, the AMA advocates for riders’ interests at all levels of government and sanctions thousands of competition and recreational events every year. The AMA also provides money-saving discounts on products and services for its members. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA honors the heroes and heritage of motorcycling. For more information, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com. Not a member? Join the AMA today: www.americanmotorcyclist.com/membership/join.

Photo by Ken Hill Josh Strang grabbed the All Balls Racing $250 XC1 Holeshot at round one.
https://www.uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_42815_tim_2412-2.jpgPhoto by Ken Hill Josh Strang grabbed the All Balls Racing $250 XC1 Holeshot at round one.

Photo by Ken Hill Kailub Russell and Thad Duvall battled to the checkered flag in South Carolina.
https://www.uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_42816_tim_3912-2.jpgPhoto by Ken Hill Kailub Russell and Thad Duvall battled to the checkered flag in South Carolina.

Photo by Ken Hill Josh Toth takes the early points lead in the XC2 250 Pro class as he goes for his second consecutive title.
https://www.uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_42817_tim_3011-2.jpgPhoto by Ken Hill Josh Toth takes the early points lead in the XC2 250 Pro class as he goes for his second consecutive title.

Photo by Ken Hill After becoming the 250 A Champion last season, Alex Teagarden earned the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class win at round one.
https://www.uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_42818_tim_4151-2.jpgPhoto by Ken Hill After becoming the 250 A Champion last season, Alex Teagarden earned the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class win at round one.

Photo by Ken Hill MacKenzie Tricker grabbed the WXC holeshot, but Becca Sheets and Tayla Jones followed closely.
https://www.uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_42819_dam_0836-2.jpgPhoto by Ken Hill MacKenzie Tricker grabbed the WXC holeshot, but Becca Sheets and Tayla Jones followed closely.

Photo by Ken Hill Youth rider, Peyton Whipkey, wheelies to a win Sunday morning.
https://www.uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_42820_amj_0740-2.jpgPhoto by Ken Hill Youth rider, Peyton Whipkey, wheelies to a win Sunday morning.
Duvall, Baylor Jr. round out the overall podium

Special to The Union Times