2019 Camp Coker Bullet GNCC Race Report

Kailub Russell takes second win of the season

Jordan Ashburn leads the 2019 Camp Coker Bullet GNCC.
Jordan Ashburn (127) grabs the holeshot ahead of Kailub Russell (1) and Thad Duvall (989).Ken Hill

FMF KTM Factory Racing's Kailub Russell became the first rider to score a second win in the 2019 AmsOil Grand National Cross Country Series by edging out Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Thad Duvall for the win at the Camp Coker Bullet GNCC at Moree's Sportsman's Preserve in Society Hill, South Carolina. After four rounds, Russell has two wins, while Duvall and Tely Energy Racing KTM's Steward Baylor Jr. each have one.

The Camp Coker Bullet GNCC was an exciting one, with Russell, Duvall, and Baylor battling for the lead during the early stages of the race. At one point, Baylor suffered problems and dropped off the pace, but then charged to get right back into the battle, moving from sixth to second behind Russell, before having problems again. A hard rain early in the race proved to be a challenge for the competitors, and forced most of the field to stop for goggles on the first lap.

Kailub Russell turning on track at 2019 Camp Coker Bullet GNCC.
Kailub Russell dealt with the rain early in the race, en route to his second win of the season. “That rain was pretty gnarly,” Russell said. “It seemed like it was raining pretty hard. It might not have been, but going fast in it feels like it’s really pounding on you.”Ken Hill

“That rain was pretty gnarly there for a while,” Russell said. “It seemed like it was raining pretty hard. It might not have been, but going fast in it feels like it’s really pounding on you, but it made the track better. [There were] a lot of lines.”

Russell sprinted out to the early lead but was not able to shake Duvall, who stayed on the KTM rider’s rear fender for most of the race. Heading into the final lap, Russell held the lead with Duvall in second and Baylor in third, while Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Trevor Bollinger and Babbitt’s/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Josh Strang rounded out the top five.

“Kailub kind of gapped me at the beginning of the last lap,” Duvall said. “I was able to catch him when he kind of got tied up with a lapper, and then it was on from there. It was a full-on sprint.”

Duvall was less than two bike lengths behind Russell heading into the final few turns, but he was not close enough to try to make a pass. Russell crossed the finish with less than a second advantage over Duvall.

“I put the hammer down during the first three laps or so and I tried to see if I could get away, but after that we just kind of cruised because he was staying with me,” Russell said. “It was a brutal race, and it feels good to get the win.”

Duvall backed up his win from the previous round with a solid runner-up finish at Camp Coker. “Actually, I should be happy with second, but I’m just a little disappointed,” Duvall said. “I felt like I put in a good race. I just wasn’t very comfortable all day, so to get second is good.”

Steward Baylor is disappointed with his third place finish at 2019 Camp Coker Bullet GNCC.
Steward Baylor was not happy at all with third place. “I’m getting really frustrated,” Baylor said. “The last three races I feel like I’ve been there; I’ve had the speed. I would almost guarantee we had some of the fastest laps, and definitely the fastest last lap.”Ken Hill

Baylor turned some of the fastest laps of the afternoon en route to third, but couldn’t shake the gremlins that have plagued him in 2019. “I’m not happy at all with my race,” Baylor said. “We just had more issues. I was playing catch-up all day. I had three fuel stops, which is frustrating. We need a bigger tank. We just had some other issues there at the end. I’m not happy with it. We’re going to come back stronger next time. I don’t like third.”

Bollinger spent most of the race alone in fourth. At the end of three hours of racing, the North Carolina rider finished one step off the podium, a minute and a half behind Baylor. Strang rounded out the top five, while Trail Jesters Racing KTM’s Ben Kelley remained perfect in the XC2 250 Pro class by claiming his fourth straight class win with a sixth overall finish.

Thad Duvall races at the 2019 Camp Coker Bullet GNCC.
Thad Duvall talked about dealing with the lappers after the race. “It was just hard to deal with all the lappers,” Duvall said. “They were doing the best they could. It was just pretty rutty. It was hard to get out of the way.”Ken Hill

Claiming his best finish of the year, Andrew Delong put his Phoenix Racing Honda into seventh overall, just 23 seconds ahead of Coastal Racing Husqvarna-backed Layne Michael. Beta USA’s Mike Witkowski rounded out the top 10 and finished second in the XC2 250 Pro division. Phoenix Racing Honda’s Austin Lee turned in a good performance for 11th overall and third in the XC2 250 Pro class.

In the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class, Trail Jesters KTM’s Jesse Ansley claimed the win over Beta USA’s Cody Barnes. Ansley was 14th overall this weekend, while Barnes was second in the class with a 19th overall finish. Yamaha-mounted Anthony Federico was third in the class with a 30th overall finish.

FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth DNF’d the race and it was reported that he crashed and hit his head. With four rounds in the books, Russell sits atop the overall series standings, while Duvall sits 13 points back in second. Third overall belongs to Baylor, another 10 points back.

Josh Strang races at the 2019 Camp Coker Bullet GNCC.
Josh Strang survived a first-turn incident to finish fifth. “I spun a bit off the line, but I was in decent shape going down into the first turn,” Strang said. “I think Josh Toth was on the inside and he wasn’t braking. He pushed me wide and then Steward (Baylor) came in and hit into me, and then I got sandwiched, like hit by both of them. So I was back a little bit off the start.”Ken Hill

2019 Camp Coker Bullet GNCC Overall Results

Position Rider Brand
1 Kailub Russell KTM
2 Thad Duvall Husqvarna
3 Steward Baylor Jr. KTM
4 Trevor Bollinger Husqvarna
5 Josh Strang Kawasaki
6 Ben Kelley KTM
7 Andrew Delong Honda
8 Jordan Ashburn Kawasaki
9 Layne Michael Husqvarna
10 Mike Witkowski Beta

2019 GNCC Overall Point Standings

Position Rider Brand Points
1 Kailub Russell KTM 110
2 Thad Duvall Husqvarna 97
3 Steward Baylor Jr. KTM 87
4 Trevor Bollinger Husqvarna 80
5 Ben Kelley KTM 62
6 Josh Strang Kawasaki 59
7 Jordan Ashburn Kawasaki 49
8 Josh Toth KTM 46
9 Mike Witkowski Beta 43
  Andrew Delong Honda 43