For the second time this year, Kailub Russell, the FMF/KTM Factory rider, lost a close race when on the final lap a lapper got stuck in a muddy rut right in front of him. The beneficiary? Thad Duvall.
Duvall Wins John Penton GNCC 2019
Earlier in the year, at round three of the Amsoil Grand National Cross Country Series in North Carolina, Russell was leading the race just miles from the finish when a lapper got stuck in a deep muddy rut right in front of him. Russell became stuck, as well, and it took several seconds to get going again. Before he could, Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Thad Duvall passed him to take the lead and the win.
At John Penton GNCC in Millfield, Ohio, May 19, Russell was leading with the race winding down when lightning struck again and he got stuck in a rut behind a lapper while Duvall cruised by to take the win.
“I was doing a really good job, hitting all my marks really good, then a guy just stopped in a rut in front of me,” said Russell. “I rode a flawless race other than that. I just kind of got robbed there on the last lap. Thad was in position. He was riding really well. Hats off to him. It’s just frustrating. That’s twice this year I’ve just got held up.”
Wet and muddy conditions dominated racing from one side of the country to the other, as a huge entry took to the muddy course at this year’s John Penton GNCC.
After a bit of shuffling, and an opening lap that was led by Jordan Ashburn (Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki), Russell took control of the race accompanied by Duvall and Trevor Bollinger (Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing). Each of the three took a turn at the front before Russell finally established himself as the leader midway into the race.
With two laps to go, Bollinger put in a charge that put him ahead of both Russell and Duvall, but he dropped back to third after getting stuck on a muddy hill and having to go back down for a second attempt.
On the final lap, Russell held an eight to ten-second gap over Duvall, and with a few miles left he was looking like a sure winner when disaster struck and he was held up just long enough for Duvall to take the win.
The win was Duvall’s second in a row at the facility, which is owned by Russell’s family.
“That last really bad hill, luckily my dad was there and pointed me a good line and Kailub got bottled up behind the lapper in his rut and I was able to pass him,” said Duvall. “The last two miles was just full out mud, go as fast as you can and hold on. I can’t believe I’ve won this race two years in a row. To do it in front of all my fans, it’s crazy. The whole time people were screaming. It’s crazy out there. I love it. I love the races. I love this race. To beat Kailub at his home farm, it’s pretty cool.”
After turning in one of his best performances of the year, Bollinger recovered from his incident on the hill to finish third.
“At one point I felt like the race was mine to win,” said Bollinger. “I was riding well, but I just had a problem on the hill. Those guys had about 35 or 40 seconds on me at halfway in, but I was able to catch up and pass them. I just lost too much time on the hill.”
After finishing fourth at the previous round in Indiana, Tely Energy Racing/KTM’s Steward Baylor Jr. rode a steady race to once again finish fourth about two minutes behind Bollinger, but remains third overall in the series standings.
Josh Strang (Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki) was 13th at the previous round in Indiana but looked comfortable in the sloppy conditions en route to a fifth overall finish. Meanwhile, Ben Kelley (Trail Jesters/KTM) remained perfect in the XC2 250 Pro class and now has six-straight wins after finishing sixth overall. Josh Toth (FMF/KTM) finished eight seconds behind Kelley for seventh.
AmPro Yamaha’s Ricky Russell finished eighth, while Grant Baylor (Tely Energy Racing/KTM) was ninth.
Craig Delong (Coastal Racing Husqvarna) finished 10th overall and second in the XC2 250 Pro class.
Cody Barnes (Factory Beta USA) padded his lead in the FMF XC3 125cc Pro-Am series standings by claiming his third win of the season. Second was Jesse Ansley (Trail Jesters/KTM) with Suzuki-mounted Joe Marsh in third.
Last year’s ISDE individual winner, Daniel Milner, of Australia, finished 13th overall.
2019 Amsoil GNCC Series
John Penton GNCC
RESULTS: May 19, 2019
- Thad Duvall (Hus)
- Kailub Russell (KTM)
- Trevor Bollinger (Hus)
- Steward Baylor (KTM)
- Josh Strang (Kaw)
- Ben Kelley (KTM)
- Josh Toth (KTM)
- Ricky Russell (Yam)
- Grant Baylor (KTM)
- Craig DeLong (Hus)