The Amsoil Grand National Cross Country Series capped off its 2019 season with its annual visit to Indiana for the Ironman GNCC in Crawfordsville, Indiana, October 27, where Ben Kelley claimed the second win in his young XC1 career.
Ben Kelley Wins 2019 Ironman GNCC
Though two of the series front-runners, Kailub Russell and Thad Duvall, were missing from the race due to injuries, the 2019 version of the event was not lacking in suspense and excitement, as intense thundershowers on Saturday soaked the Indiana soil, which was then rutted up by a day’s worth of quad racing. The sun was out for Sunday’s event, but the damage was done and the first few laps of the afternoon bike race saw riders gambling on a variety of lines in an effort to dodge the deep holes lurking under the many pools of water.
Jordan Ashburn (Babbitts Monster Energy Kawasaki Off-Road Racing) grabbed the holeshot to start the three-hour afternoon race, and was still leading at the end of the first lap, with Ricky Russell (Am Pro Yamaha) and Kelley in hot pursuit.
Kelley moved into the lead on lap two and never faltered, as the FMF/KTM rider managed to stay out of trouble for the remainder of the race, taking the win by 1:25 minutes ahead of Trevor Bollinger (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna).
Kelley finished the year with 12 wins in 13 races, counting his 10-straight wins in the XC2 division.
The 2020 season will be interesting, seeing where Kelley fits in the order when Russell and Duvall are at full strength.
Bollinger turned in a rather quiet race, starting the race in third and finishing in the runner-up slot, although he led at one point, only to lose the lead when he pitted.
The real excitement was over the battle for the final podium position, which came down to four riders: Ashburn, FMF/KTM’s Josh Toth, and Tely Energy Racing KTM riders Grant Baylor and Steward Baylor. Ashburn held third going into the final lap and was looking good to hold the position to the end when he went down within a mile of the finish, taking Grant down with him. This opened to door for Toth and Steward to move into third and fourth, with Steward making a last-second pass on Toth a few turns later to claim third at the finish.
Grant managed to get going before Ashburn to finish fourth, while Toth and Ashburn rounded out the top six.
Josh Strang (Babbitts Monster Energy Kawasaki Off-Road Racing) finished six seconds ahead of Craig Delong (Coastal Racing/Husqvarna) to claim seventh, with Delong topping the XC2 250 Pro class with an eighth.
Tely Energy Racing’s Liam Draper was second in the XC2 250 Pro class with his ninth overall finish, while Andrew Delong was another eight second back in 10th overall on his Phoenix Racing Honda.
Ricky Russell was 11th, while Honda-mounted Jonathon Johnson finished 12th and third in the XC2 250 Pro class.
Despite missing the last two rounds, Kailub Russell claimed his seventh XC1 title at the previous round, while Thad Duvall, who sat out the last two rounds, finished the season in second. Kelley finished third overall, on the strength of his two overall wins and his overall finishes while riding the 250 class.
In the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am division, 2019 class champion and winner of the previous round Jesse Ansley injured his thumb when he lost the front end and hit a tree, forcing the Trail Jesters KTM rider to drop out on the second lap of the race.
In Ansley’s absence, Chase Colville took control of the race and claimed his first win of the season, ahead of fellow Yamaha rider Nathan Federer and Logan Kittock (Husqvarna).
Despite his DNF, Ansley won the class championship, with Beta USA’s Cody Barnes in second for the year, even after missing the last three rounds due to injury. Colville finished the season in third.
Saturday’s WXC Women’s race, Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones secured the 2019 class championship with a fourth-place finish, edging Becca Sheets (Fly/Maxxis/Pro Circuit/KTM) by nine points in the final standings. Sheets was third in the Ironman race, while Mackenzie Tricker (Mepmx/Fly/Grizzly Peak/Traveler’s Rest Speedway/KTM) and Rachel Archer (Am Pro Yamaha), from New Zealand, were first and second, respectively.
2019 AMSOIL GNCC Championship
RESULTS: October 27, 2019
- Ben Kelley (KTM)
- Trevor Bollinger (Hus)
- Steward Baylor (KTM)
- Grant Baylor (KTM)
- Josh Toth (KTM)
- Jordan Ashburn (Kaw)
- Josh Strang (Kaw)
- Craig Delong (Hus)
- Liam Draper (KTM)
- Andrew Delong (Hon)
Click here for complete results.