MORGANTOWN, W.Va — This weekend, May 12-13, the 2018 Amsoil Grand National Cross Country ( GNCC ) Series, an AMA National Championship, returns to Peru, Indiana, for the second annual X-Factor Whitetails GNCC. FMF/KTM Factory Racing's Kailub Russell earned his fourth win of the season at the previous round; however, he was only .620 second ahead of Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing's Thad Duvall.
Russell and Duvall have dominated the beginning of the season, but Duvall has only earned one win thus far. Duvall will be looking to repeat his success from last year's inaugural X-Factor Whitetails GNCC. With a 19-point deficit, Duvall and K. Russell will be a pair to keep an eye on come Sunday's 1 p.m. race.
After finishing third overall in the points last year, AmPro Yamaha's Ricky Russell was a favorite coming into the 2018 season. However, a slew of bad luck and mechanical issues has put R. Russell back to ninth in points. R. Russell finally had a breakthrough race in South Carolina, where he finished the day third overall. R. Russell will be looking to once again earn a podium finish and put the bad luck behind him.
Tely Energy Racing/KTM's Steward Baylor is currently third in the championship point standings, and after finishing off-pace at round five, he will be looking to return to the XC1 Open Pro class podium. The frustration from his performance at the previous round may very well be used as motivation to propel him to the front of the pack.
Coming into round six, JCR Honda's Trevor Bollinger has consistently been in the top five overall. After finishing third at his hometown race, Bollinger pushed through small issues at the previous round to finish fourth place in the XC1 Open Pro class. With his first XC1 Open Pro podium behind him, Bollinger knows what it takes to remain at the front of the field and will ultimately be looking to do so once again.
The 2010 GNCC Champion, Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing's Josh Strang, currently sits fifth in XC1 Open Pro class standings. Strang landed on the podium at last year's X-Factor Whitetails event, finishing in second place. With fifth- and sixth-place finishes thus far in 2018, Strang will be looking to make his way onto the podium and possibly contend for the overall win.
KR4/Husqvarna's Layne Michael and Beta USA's Jordan Ashburn have seen up and down moments through this point of the 2018 GNCC Racing season; however, both riders have been able to challenge the front of the pack at various points in the first five rounds. Rounding out the top ten XC1 Open Pro class riders are KR4/Husqvarna's Cory Buttrick and Solid Performance KTM/Fly Racing's Jesse Groemm, who are both looking to improve on their results from the beginning of the season.
The XC2 250 Pro class battles have been heated between FMF/KTM Factory Racing's Josh Toth and Trail Jesters KTM Racing's Ben Kelley. Kelley currently leads the championship point standings, with Toth 30 points behind him. Coastal Racing/Husqvarna's Pascal Rauchenecker is currently third even after suffering a hand injury during round four. Rauchenecker flew home to Austria to have surgery as quickly as possible, and has since made his return to the United States for this weekend's GNCC.
Indiana native M&E Honda/Fly Racing/Alpinestars' Austin Lee earned his first podium finish of the season two weeks ago in South Carolina. Lee is now hoping for another battle at the front of the XC2 250 Pro class this weekend in front of his family and friends.
Starting from the third row Sunday afternoon is the FMF XC3 125 Pro Am class. FMF/Maxxis/RPM KTM's Jesse Ansley holds the first-place position in points after winning three races, followed by Raines Riding University/Yamaha's Jason Raines in second. Cody Barnes, who is tied with Raines, sits third, but will be looking to earn his second win of the season.
Sunday's race schedule is as follows: Youth bike racing begins at 8 a.m., followed by amateurs and women at 10 a.m., and the pros and top amateurs race at 1 p.m.
The event is co-sanctioned with IXCR , a series that produces local racing events in the state of Indiana, and will ultimately bring out a full slate of local racers. All local riders are invited and encouraged to compete in the event, as GNCC Racing offers classes for riders of all skill and experience levels. The amateur race entry fee is only $50 and riders can sign up at the event. To learn more about GNCC Racing, refer to the GNCC 101 webpage.
All local riders are invited and encouraged to compete in the event, as GNCC Racing offers classes for riders of all skill and experience levels. Local racers expected to compete Sunday on bikes are Brook Barker (Masters B 50+), Trenton Baughman (Open B), Jacob Blythe (125 B/C), Austin Bratcher (YXC2 Super Mini Jr. 12-13), Devin Burks (Junior A/B 25+), Corey Burton (Open B), Rick Burton (Senior A 40+), Riley Burton (YXC1 Super Mini Sr 14-15), Mike Witkowski (XC2 250 Pro), Jaryn Williams (Open A), Maxwell Randolph (Open A), David Quillen (FMF XC3 125 Pro Am), Elizabeth Perez (Women), Luke Newton (65 7-9), Rod Marshall (Masters A 50+), Rachel Gutish (WXC), Austin Lee (XC2 250 Pro), Keaton Lawson (65 7-9), John Lawson (Super Vet C 35+), Geoff Lance (250 A), Jack Joy (85 12-13), Logan Grounds (MicroXC2 6-8), Lucas Grounds (YXC2 Super Mini Jr. 12-13) and Joel Creed (Elite Masters 65+).
For a complete schedule of the weekend's activities, please visit the X-Factor Whitetails GNCC event page on the series website by clicking here .
Tune in to RacerTV.com on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EDT to catch LIVE streaming of the Pro bike race. For more information on GNCC Live coverage visit www.racertv.com . A highlight show featuring the event will air on NBC Sports Network on Saturday, June 9 at 6:00 p.m. EDT.
X-Factor Whitetails of Indiana is a privately owned and operated hunting ranch that offers guided hunts for groups of all sizes. The Indiana preserve has over 1,200 acres with one of the most beautiful lodges in the country. If you are looking for a challenging whitetail hunt for some of the biggest deer in the country, you have found the right place. To find out more about the X-Factor Whitetails Hunting Ranch, click here .
For more information on the GNCC series, visit the official website at www.gnccracing.com or call (304) 284-0084. Join the conversation on the series Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Instagram , and be sure to always hashtag #GNCC.
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