2019 Mason-Dixon GNCC Race Report

Thad Duvall survives the dry and dusty Pennsylvania GNCC.

Jordan Ashburn
Jordan Ashburn took over the lead on lap 2 and led for the next three laps before his engine finally quit.Darrin Chapman

Survival was the name of the game at the Mason-Dixon GNCC, round 11 of the 2019 AmsOil Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) series, in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania. Thanks to dry and sunny weather, heavy dust made the racing difficult and wreaked havoc on the bikes, as many of the top 10 riders were either forced to retire or were severely hindered due to damage to their engines. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Thad Duvall outlasted the stacked field of racers and, thanks to a well-timed air filter change, the West Virginia rider was able to power home for the win.

“I didn’t even really want to stop because I didn’t feel like my bike was really sputtering that bad, but I knew I had a comfortable lead,” Duvall explained. “I had it popped off and ready to go, and the boys put it on. I got a splash of gas and then decided to cruise the last lap. It was easy to make a big mistake out there. I just cruised the last lap, played it safe, and brought it home in front of my hometown fans. It’s good to get a win here. After the last race, I think I just put so much pressure on myself and I didn’t perform how I wanted to, so the last two weeks I just had some fun with it. I did some deer stuff and hung out with my wife and kid. It seemed to pay off. After the last race, I felt like I just wasn’t in the right place, so I got back on the right place to win here and get that motivation back. We’re ready for the last two for sure.”

Thad Duvall
Thad Duvall’s (center) win was a bit of redemption after his disappointing ride at the previous round where he finished third.Darrin Chapman

Jordan Ashburn was affected most by the dusty conditions, as the Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki rider jumped out to a strong lead and led three full laps of the race before his bike suddenly stopped in the woods, forcing him to push it back to the pits. “The bike just started losing a little bit of power right there toward the end of the fourth lap, and just like that, it stopped,” Ashburn said. “I just tried to get back into the pits because I knew the filter was clogged, but I didn’t make it. It’s a bummer because I felt like we were the fastest guy out there today. We were on the hunt for a first win, but we’ll be back.”

FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell took over the lead after Ashburn dropped out, only to lose power on the final lap and fade to an eventual sixth place at the finish. “It’s disappointing to have a bike issue in conditions like we had today, but I’m happy we were able to salvage the points for sixth and move on to the final two rounds,” Russell shared.

Ricky Russell
Ricky Russell grabbed the holeshot, but was quickly knocked out of the lead by Kailub Russell in the following turn.Darrin Chapman

AmPro Yamaha’s Ricky Russell crossed the finish line about 39 seconds behind Duvall to claim the runner-up slot. Ricky got off to a great start, grabbing the holeshot, only to lose it to Kailub in the second turn, and then ran in the top five for the remainder of the race before eventually landing in second place.

“I knew I needed to get a good start with all the dust, and I got the holeshot, but then Kailub gave me a good nudge,” Ricky said. “On the second lap the dust actually was down a little bit and I was able to kind of just ride my own race. I think people were dropping out, like Kailub and Jordan, because of the dust, so I kind of got a little bit of a gift at the finish, but I think I would have been on the podium no matter what.”

Trevor Bollinger
Trevor Bollinger turned in a strong performance to finish third considering he’s missed a lot of the season due to an illness.Darrin Chapman

Third went to Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Trevor Bollinger, who is finding his form after missing three races due to an illness. “I’m finally feeling back close to myself after being sick for a while,” Bollinger said. “I basically started from zero again this summer and will just keep building my fitness and come out swinging next year.”

Andrew Delong claimed his best finish of the season, the Phoenix Honda rider claiming fourth overall. “I’ve seen enough of these dust races that I knew a lot of guys would drop out, so I played it safe,” Delong said. “I tried to stay out of the deep dust berms and just basically chugged along and stayed out of trouble.”

Andrew Delong
Andrew Delong turned in his best-ever XC1 performance with a fourth. The Phoenix Racing Honda rider had a strategy for the dry conditions, namely staying out of the deep dust berms.Darrin Chapman

Meanwhile, FXR/SRT/Hoosier/Husqvarna’s Layne Michael put himself into fifth, just ahead of Kailub Russell, who limped to the finish line.

After missing three rounds due to a broken leg, FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth returned to action with a respectable seventh. “Conditions were super dusty, so it made for a tough day for a return to racing,” Toth shared. “I ended up seventh, which is not where I’m looking to be, but I have a few things to work on to hopefully make a huge improvement at the next round.”

Josh Toth
Josh Toth missed the previous three rounds due to a leg injury, but returned to racing with a seventh place at the Mason-Dixon race.Darrin Chapman

Liam Draper claimed his first win in the XC2 250 Pro class by putting his Tely Energy Racing KTM into an eighth overall finish. “I just put my head down, pushed hard, tried to get away, and looked back and saw Craig DeLong was there,” Draper said. “I knew he was going to be fast here today and I just kept pushing. I had to stop with two laps to go and change an air filter, so Craig got by me. We went into the woods and then I saw he ran out of gas on that last lap, I think. I don’t know what happened to him, but I’m pretty pumped to finally do it.”

Liam Draper
Liam Draper survived to claim a career-first XC2 win.Darrin Chapman

Coastal Racing Husqvarna’s Craig DeLong (second place in the XC2 250 Pro class) and Max Motorsports/FXR Racing/Husqvarna Evan Smith (third in the XC2 250 Pro class) rounded out the top 10. Ben Kelley jumped to the XC1 class on a 450 at the Mason-Dixon race since he had already wrapped up the XC2 250 Pro class at the previous round with 10-straight class win. However, the Trail Jesters KTM rider eventually succumbed to the dust after running as high as fourth at one point in the race.

The FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class was won by XC Gear/Enduro Engineering/Husqvarna’s Jake Froman, with Trail Jesters KTM’s Jesse Ansley and Yamaha-mounted Chase Colville finishing second and third, respectively. The win was the first for Froman.

Kailub Russell
Kailub Russell started to have bike issues about two hours into the race but still managed to finish in sixth.Darrin Chapman

Moose Racing/Shaw Wines/Rockstar/Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones won the WXC Women’s race, followed by Fly/Maxxis/Pro Circuit/KTM’s Becca Sheets finishing in the runner-up spot and GasGas North America’s Kori Steede rounding out the podium in third.

2019 Mason-Dixon GNCC Overall Results

Position Rider Brand
1 Thad Duvall Husqvarna
2 Ricky Russell Yamaha
3 Trevor Bollinger Husqvarna
4 Andrew Delong Honda
5 Layne Michael Husqvarna
6 Kailub Russell KTM
7 Josh Toth KTM
8 Liam Draper Husqvarna
9 Craig DeLong Husqvarna
10 Evan Smith Husqvarna

2019 GNCC Overall Point Standings

Position Rider Brand Points
1 Kailub Russell KTM 295
2 Thad Duvall Husqvarna 258
3 Steward Baylor KTM 198
4 Ben Kelley KTM 166
5 Trevor Bollinger Husqvarna 162
6 Ricky Russell Yamaha 123
7 Andrew Delong Honda 121
8 Josh Strang Kawasaki 113
9 Jordan Ashburn Kawasaki 107
10 Josh Toth KTM 106