Kailub Russell extended his winning streak to three after winning the General GNCC in Washington, Georgia, March 15. As a result, the FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Team rider extended his points lead in the 2020 AMA Grand National Cross Country Series after three rounds.
However, Russell’s win did not come easily. He actually trailed Steward Baylor with just a few turns left in the race. But when Steward went a little wide in the MX section of the track, Russell saw his chance and pounced, passing Steward at the last moment to take the win.
“I was physically ready to go today, but I had a little bit of a cold this week and just didn’t feel 100%, so I was happy to get up front there at the end,” said Russell. “It was a tough race—I just couldn’t get going and Stu was riding really good, but I was making it really hard on myself by crashing, getting stuck and just making dumb mistakes. I kept catching him and honestly, I thought I was going to run out of time, but I made it happen. I was going to give it a hard charge and throw it in on him in one of these corners, but luckily, he doesn’t have much of a moto background, and he just went wide for me and made it easy. It was fun riding with him today.”
As disappointing as it was seeing the win snatched away from him at the last moment, Baylor had a lot to be happy about. His runner-up gave Sherco its first-ever podium in a GNCC race.
“I got off to another terrible start,” said Steward. “We just can’t get the thing figured out on starts, but it was a struggle there the first little bit. Luckily Kailub had a few mistakes, a few crashes that first lap, and I knew that he was right there. I wanted to push and get to the lead and kind of control the race. I got up there and got up front and kind of made a break for it. We don’t have a quick fill, so I knew it was a screw-cap pit and that cost us a lot of time. That’s the time we needed to win. After I pitted the second time, Kailub and I hooked up. We kind of cruised for a little bit, then he made that mistake, and I knew when he made the mistake it was time to go. I gave it everything I had. Just a few mistakes from a win, and a little bit of un-organization. All in all, I can’t be upset with a second place. But this one was all on me. Three turns from the finish we went a little wide and left the door wide open and he was able to take it. It should have been my day. It should have been my race.”
Still, it was a major step in the right direction for the fledgling FactoryONE Sherco Team.
Filling out the podium was Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Team Green’s Josh Strang. It was also his third podium of the season, solidifying his spot in second place in the championship.
Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna’s Craig Delong was fourth but was the XC2 Pro-class winner. He edged out fifth overall Jonathan Girroir (Trail Jesters KTM Racing) for the class victory
It was a slugfest in the XC2 Pro class, where Delong, Girroir and Michael Witkowski (AmPro Yamaha) battled all race long. Witkowski ended third in class in seventh overall, one spot behind Sherco’s Grant Baylor.
“All three of us were together, swapping back-and-forth, and I think it was about who was the luckiest in the end,” DeLong said. “The last lap was brutal, and I happened to get it done. The lappers played a key in it, too, and I was able to get away. I’ve been on this new bike for a couple of weeks now, and I don’t think it could work any better. I can’t thank the team enough for all of their support, it’s been great and I’m happy to get the win for them.”
Ricky Russell (Husqvarna), Jordan Ashburn (Kawasaki) and Cody Barnes (Beta) completed the top 10 overall.
Jason Raines topped the FMF XC3 125cc Pro-Am class, finishing just ahead of Cole Mattison (KTM).
Becca Sheets (Yamaha) won the Women’s Elite class. CN
2020 GNCC Series
The General GNCC
RESULTS: March 15, 2020
OVERALL (Top 10)