After suffering a disappointing DNF at the previous round of the Amsoil GNCC Series at Snowshoe Resort, in West Virginia, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Thad Duvall took a statement win, July 6-7, at the Inaugural VP Racing Fuels High Voltage GNCC, held at the Lilly Family Farm in Dunkard, Pennsylvania.
Duvall Gets The Win At High Voltage GNCC
Ignoring the sweltering conditions, Duvall dropped holeshotter Kailub Russell on the opening lap when the FMF/KTM rider, Russell, made a mistake. Duvall then turned up his own heat, pulling away to a nearly two-minute victory over the series points leader in perhaps one last gasp to save his championship hopes.
At this point, a 2019 GNCC Championship title is a long shot for Duvall, since his zero-point finish at Snowshoe dropped him from 18 points behind Russell to 48 points in the series standings. But there is still plenty of racing left. With his win at the High Voltage GNCC, Duvall cut the deficit to 43 points.
“The first lap, I was like, ‘man, I’m winning today,’” Duvall said. “I just felt really good. I felt confident. There was just a lot of frustration after Snowshoe. I feel like the championship might be over now. Kailub is so consistent. Now it’s just try to win races and lead as many laps as I can and learn for next year.”
Russell battled with Duvall at first, but then Duvall was able to pull away to a 17-second advantage, although at one point he thought his bad luck might have returned.
“I was feeling great and then three laps to go, I clipped a pole in the middle of the woods,” Duvall said. “I don’t even know where it came from. I thought I ripped my radiator off. I’m like, ‘man, two races in a row?’ Luckily it made it to the end.” Duvall was robbed of a possible win at the Snowshoe when a stick poked a hole in his radiator.
Russell struggled by his own admission, confessing that he went the wrong direction with his setup before the race, and he had three riders nipping at his rear fender during the final lap.
“I was just fighting my bike a little bit all day; didn’t really feel comfortable,” said Russell. “Thad was on top of it. It seems like every time I come here, I just get my butt whooped. It’s a tricky track.”
Josh Strang made amends for his 27th overall finish at Snowshoe with a solid podium, outdueling his Kawasaki teammate Jordan Ashburn for third.
“It’s been a long time to be on the podium, and I’m pumped to get up here for the new Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki team,” Strang said. “It’s been a while. It’s frustrating. [But] finally today I put it together and felt like I rode really good.”
Strang, along with Ashburn, were two of the riders pushing Russell on the final lap.
“The track was fairly easy today I would say, so maybe that helped me a little bit,” Strang said. “On the second to last lap, I had to put on a charge to catch Jordan towards the end and finally get third.”
Ashburn finished three seconds behind Strang for fourth in what was his best finish of the season.
Grant Baylor also had a season-best with fifth overall. The Tely Energy KTM rider finally looks healthy after struggling with a shoulder issue early in the year.
Trail Jesters KTM’s Ben Kelley continued his unbeaten streak in the XC2 250 Pro class. Kelley came away with his eighth consecutive victory in XC2 250 Pro; however, this one came after a fierce battle during the early part of the race with Coastal Racing Husqvarna’s Craig DeLong. Kelley was eventually able to pull away and gapped DeLong by over three minutes at the finish, extending his lead in the XC2 250 Pro Championship to 104 points. The finish was also good enough for sixth overall.
After running outside of the top-10 during the early going, Tely Energy Racing KTM’s Steward Baylor put on a late race charge to finish seventh. Husqvarna-backed Layne Michael, who has been training with Justin Barcia, turned in a nice ride for eighth.
AmPro Yamaha’s Ricky Russell was ninth, and Craig DeLong took second in the XC2 250 Pro class with a 10th overall finish.
Tely Energy Racing KTM’s Liam Draper was third in the XC2 250 Pro class at 12th overall.
Trail Jesters KTM Racing’s Jesse Ansley claimed win number four in the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class, leading all seven laps to top Chase Colville (Yamaha) by 13 minutes. KTM-mounted Jason Lipscomb completed six of the seven-lap race for third.
Becca Sheets (Fly/Maxxis/Pro Circuit/KTM) beat out Mackenzie Tricker (Mepmx/Fly/Grizzly Peak/Traveler’s Rest Speedway/KTM) by 30 seconds to win the WXC class. The win was Sheets’ fourth of the season, and she now leads Tricker, 245-184, in the class standings.
AmPro Yamaha’s Rachel Archer, from New Zealand, was third.
- Thad Duvall (Hus)
- Kailub Russell (KTM)
- Josh Strang (Kaw)
- Jordan Ashburn (Kaw)
- Grant Baylor (KTM)
- Ben Kelley (KTM)
- Steward Baylor (KTM)
- Layne Michael (Hus)
- Ricky Russell (Yam)
- Craig DeLong (Hus)