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Thad Duvall Earns First Win of 2018 at FMF Steele Creek GNCC - GNCC Racing

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Thad Duvall Earns First Win of 2018 at FMF Steele Creek GNCC
Steele Creek Campground Morganton, NC Steele Creek GNCC Racing

MORGANTON, N.C. —The 19th Annual FMF Steele Creek GNCC took place Sunday, April 8, at the Steele Creek Park & Family Campground in Morganton, North Carolina. Rockstar Energy/Factory Racing Husqvarna's Thad Duvall and FMF KTM Factory Racing's Kailub Russell battled head-to-head for three hours of racing. Duvall would ultimately make a last-lap pass and earn his first win of the season.

As the green flag flew, it was KTM Canada/Thor/Parts Canada-backed rider Kaven Benoit coming away with the $250 All Balls Racing XC1 Holeshot Award. It wasn't long before K. Russell made the pass for the lead and took advantage of the clear trail ahead of him. Coming through timing and scoring on lap one, K. Russell checked in 24 seconds ahead of Duvall, followed by AmPro Yamaha's Ricky Russell and JCR Honda's Trevor Bollinger. 

Trevor Bollinger earned his first podium finish of the season in front of his hometown crowd.
Trevor Bollinger earned his first podium finish of the season in front of his hometown crowd. Ken Hill

Bollinger would make the pass on R. Russell during lap two and push forward, trying to make up time on the two frontrunners. However, coming through the finish, Bollinger remained at a three-minute deficit. Tely Energy Racing/KTM's Steward Baylor Jr. was also on the move behind Bollinger, coming in 54 seconds behind him. 

Duvall would earn the lead on lap three as both he and K. Russell pitted for gas. Duvall was able to re-enter before K. Russell, and the two would continue their wheel-to-wheel battle until the white flag came out. K. Russell had regained the lead, but with just miles to go until the checkered flag came out, Duvall would make the pass and come through first, followed by K. Russell just seconds behind him. 

Steele Creek fan favorite Bollinger would come through in third, earning his first podium finish of the season in front of his family and friends. S. Baylor would finish out the day with a fourth-place finish.

Earning his third straight win was Ben Kelley in the XC2 250 Pro class.
Earning his third straight win was Ben Kelley in the XC2 250 Pro class. Ken Hill

Beta USA's Jordan Ashburn was running fifth during the first half of the three-hour race on Sunday. Ashburn would battle throughout the day and ultimately finish sixth in XC1 Open Pro. Rockstar Energy/Factory Racing Husqvarna's Josh Strang battled during the race with Ashburn and would make the pass for fifth on the third lap. Strang would finish out the day fifth in XC1 and seventh overall.

KR4 Husqvarna's Layne Michael crossed the line in seventh, followed by R. Russell in eighth. Michael's teammate Cory Buttrick finished in ninth, with Solid Performance KTM/Fly Racing's Jesse Groemm rounding out the top 10 in the XC1 Open Pro class.

When the XC2 250 Pro class took off it was the number 117 of Coastal Racing/Husqvarna's Pascal Rauchenecker grabbing the $100 Hot Cams Holeshot Award. By the time they came through the finish on lap one it was Trail Jesters/KTM's Ben Kelley in the lead followed by Rauchenecker in second, and FMF KTM Factory Racing's Josh Toth in third. Kelley took home his third consecutive win, while Toth and Rauchenecker rounded out the top three in the XC2 250 Pro class.

Jesse Ansley (center) earned the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class win, followed by Christopher Venditti (right) and Alex Teagarden.
Jesse Ansley (center) earned the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class win, followed by Christopher Venditti (right) and Alex Teagarden. Ken Hill

As the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class took off, it was Coastal Racing/Husqvarna's Alex Teagarden with the $100 FMF Holeshot Award. However, Raines Riding University's Jason Raines would take over the number-one spot during the first lap. The number-one spot would then be taken over by Sherco-backed rider Jason Langenback for the next two laps before Ape Graphics/Boyesen Racing's Christopher Venditti made the pass on lap four. FMF/Maxxis/RPM KTM's Jesse Ansley would make the pass for the lead and take his second win of the season, followed by Venditti and Teagarden.

250 A rider Jojo Bowden took home the top honors award with his 26th overall finish and first in 250 A. This marks Bowden's second win of the season in 250 A. Brewer Cawley and Bryce Koster rounded out the amateur podium at the FMF Steele Creek GNCC.

The 10 a.m. amateur race was nothing short of intense racing. Fly Racing/Maxxis/Seat Concepts' Becca Sheets would earn her first win of the season and stop the success of fellow WXC rider KR4/Husqvarna's Tayla Jones. Sheets would start the day out in third, but battle throughout the course to move her way into the lead position on lap two and never look back. Jones would finish second, and Australia's Mackenzie Tricker rounded out the WXC podium in third.

Becca Sheets topped the WXC podium for the first time this season.
Becca Sheets topped the WXC podium for the first time this season. Ken Hill

The 8 a.m. youth race would see a new winner in round four this weekend at the FMF Steele Creek GNCC. Max Fernandez, in the YXC1 Super Mini Sr. (14-15) class, would take home the top honors when the race finished. Grant Davis racing the YXC2 Super Mini Jr. (12-13) would come through in the second overall position during the youth race, followed by Ayden Pratt of Jefferson, Pennsylvania, in the third overall position.

The 1 p.m. pro bike race was broadcast live in its entirety on RacerTV.com and can be viewed as archived video online by visiting the GNCC Live page online. A highlight show featuring the event will be aired on the NBC Sports Network on Saturday, May 26, at 2:30 p.m. 

The 2018 Amsoil Grand National Cross Country Series resumes with CST Tires Camp Coker Bullet on April 21 and 22 in Society Hill, South Carolina.

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.

XC1 Open Pro Event Results

  1. Thad Duvall (HQV)
  2. Kailub Russell (KTM)
  3. Trevor Bollinger (HON)
  4. Steward Baylor Jr. (KTM)
  5. Josh Strang (HQV)
  6. Jordan Ashburn (BET)
  7. Layne Michael (HQV)
  8. Ricky Russell (YAM)
  9. Cory Buttrick (HQV)
  10. Jesse Groemm (KTM)
  1. Kailub Russell (115)
  2. Thad Duvall (101)
  3. Steward Baylor Jr. (83)
  4. Trevor Bollinger (72)
  5. Ben Kelley (65)
  6. Josh Strang (58)
  7. Layne Michael (52)
  8. Pascal Rauchenecker (48)
  9. Josh Toth (46)
  10. Craig Delong (36)

*Indicates that the Overall National Championship Standings will determine the 2018 National Champion.

XC2 250 Pro Event Results

  1. Ben Kelley (KTM)
  2. Josh Toth (KTM)
  3. Pascal Rauchenecker (HQV)
  4. Craig Delong (HQV)
  5. Liam Draper (HQV)
  6. Nick Davis (GAS)
  7. Michael Witkowski (BET)
  8. Trevor Barrett (HQV)
  9. Evan Smith (HQV)
  10. Scott Grills (HQV)
  1. Ben Kelley (115)
  2. Pascal Rauchnecker (88)
  3. Josh Toth (80)
  4. Craig Delong (70)
  5. Liam Draper (51)
  6. Austin Lee (44)
  7. Evan Smith (43)
  8. Nick Davis (40)
  9. Zack Hayes (39)
  10. Jonathan Johnson (38)