2019 Snowshoe GNCC Race Report

At round 8, Kailub Russell extends his point lead with another win.

Kailub Russell races at the 2019 Snowshoe GNCC.
Kailub Russell talked about winning his sixth race at Snowshoe. “This place is special to me,” Russell said. “This is my sixth win here and I really enjoy the whole weekend on this beautiful mountain. I enjoyed the course today, but it was getting tough out there. I enjoy everything about this race.”Darrin Chapman

FMF KTM Factory Racing's Kailub Russell continues to dominate the 2019 AmsOil Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series, claiming his fifth win of the season at the Snowshoe GNCC, held at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Snowshoe, West Virginia.

Russell battled to the finish with Tely Energy Racing KTM's Steward Baylor Jr., eventually edging out the South Carolina rider by just 1.4 seconds at the finish. The win was Russell’s sixth win at the West Virginia venue. With the victory, Russell extended his lead in the championship standings to 48 points over Thad Duvall, who DNF’d after completing three laps of the race due to a hole in his radiator.   “Stew [Baylor] put the hammer down and tried to get away there at the end,” Russell said. “We closed the gap and made a move over by the seven-mile marker. We went back and forth a couple different times on that last lap, but it was a fun race. We had guys spread out all over the course. Our guys (the KTM team) worked their butts off. To win here and extend the point lead is great.”

Steward Baylor races at the 2019 Snowshoe GNCC.
Steward Baylor turned in a hard-fought race, just missing out on the win. “The last two laps I tried to give everything I had,” Baylor said. “Kailub was able to match me in the sections where he had been weak the lap before. It was right down to the wire; a couple seconds, and that’s how good racing is. I’m happy with it.”Darrin Chapman

Baylor was fifth at the end of the opening lap, but he eventually moved into the lead at the two-lap board. Russell regained the lead on the final lap of the race, but Baylor made a charge on Power Point Hill in an effort to take control of the race. But a lapper moved in front of Baylor and foiled the attempt.   “We went back and forth I think four or five times that last lap,” Baylor said. “I knew I had the drive. I had the speed to make a pass on Power Point Hill. I had the upper line. It was the line that I had taken the lap before and it was really fast—no rocks [and] a lot of dirt. A lapper just kind of [messed me up], but that’s racing. I can’t be mad about it. I had a hell of a ride.”

Ben Kelley races at the 2019 Snowshoe GNCC.
Due to Snowshoe’s unique live-engine start, Ben Kelley was able to start on the first row along with Kailub Russell and Baylor, allowing him to battle bar to bar with the XC1 riders. “I got off behind Kailub and was following him for pretty much the whole lap,” Kelley said. “I got passed by Thad [Duvall] and Stew [Baylor] there halfway through, but through one of the bike-only sections I was able to get back by and get right on Kailub. Later, I had a gnarly wreck in the downhill rocks. [I was] not holding on tight, trying to be loose, and just went down. I kind of lost touch, but was able to regroup and run them back down the second lap. I just tried to stay with them as best I could, but there near the end we kind of got separated.”Darrin Chapman

XC2 250 Pro point leader Ben Kelley started on the first row and the Trail Jesters KTM rider earned his second-straight third overall finish, which was good enough for his eighth-straight XC2 250 Pro class win. One of the most impressive rides of the day came from AmPro Yamaha’s Ricky Russell, who led the opening lap after starting from row 3. Russell dropped off the pace when the two-lap board came out and eventually finished fourth overall and third in the XC1 Pro division.   Fifth overall and fourth in XC1 Open Pro went to Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Jordan Ashburn. Meanwhile, Tely Energy Racing KTM’s Grant Baylor was fifth in the XC1 class and sixth overall, his best finish since returning to the series at the X-Factor GNCC earlier this season.   Second in the XC2 250 Pro class and seventh overall was Coastal Racing Husqvarna’s Craig DeLong, who turned in an impressive ride at Snowshoe. Just behind DeLong came Tely Energy Racing KTM’s Liam Draper, who earned his first XC2 podium finish with third in the XC2 250 Pro class with an eighth overall finish.   FXR/Thornhill Automotive/Husqvarna’s Cory Buttrick was ninth overall, ahead of Phoenix Honda Racing’s Andrew Delong. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Trevor Bollinger missed the race reportedly due to an illness.   Beta USA’s Cody Barnes won the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class. It was his fourth win of the season and he now sits 13 seconds ahead of Trail Jesters KTM’s Jesse Ansley, who was second in class at Snowshoe. Lojak Cycle Sales’ Chase Colville was third on the day.

Becca Sheets races at the 2019 Snowshoe GNCC.
Becca Sheets took advantage of Rachel Archer getting caught up in a bottleneck to take the lead and hold on for her third win of the season. Sheets also took the lead in the WXC class standings.Darrin Chapman

Fly/Maxxis/Pro Circuit/KTM’s Becca Sheets took over the lead in the class standings with her third win of the season in the WXC class. AmPro Yamaha’s Rachael Archer, who led early in the race, finished second after getting herself caught up in the bottleneck. MEPMX/Fly Racing/KTM’s Mackenzie Tricker took third, while Moose Racing/Shaw Wines/Rockstar/Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones did not compete at Snowshoe due to a hand injury.

Ricky Russell races at the 2019 Snowshoe GNCC.
Ricky Russell grabbed the lead on the opening lap of the race from a third row starting position and led the race for the first lap.Darrin Chapman

2019 Snowshoe GNCC Overall Results

Position Rider Brand
1 Kailub Russell KTM
2 Steward Baylor Jr. KTM
3 Ben Kelley KTM
4 Ricky Russell Yamaha
5 Jordan Ashburn Kawasaki
6 Grant Baylor KTM
7 Craig DeLong Husqvarna
8 Liam Draper KTM
9 Cory Buttrick Husqvarna
10 Andrew Delong Honda

2019 GNCC Overall Point Standings

Position Rider Brand Points
1 Kailub Russell KTM 225
2 Thad Duvall Husqvarna 177
3 Steward Baylor KTM 166
4 Ben Kelley KTM 135
5 Trevor Bollinger Husqvarna 127
6 Josh Strang Kawasaki 92
7 Josh Toth KTM 92
8 Andrew Delong Honda 86
9 Jordan Ashburn Kawasaki 74
10 Mike Witkowski Beta 64