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2020 Buckwheat 100 GNCC | Race Highlights & Results




The 2020 Grand National Cross Country Series came to a thrilling, fitting, and chaotic close with the 2020 Buckwheat 100 GNCC. The last race of the season saw a handful of front runners duke it out for the overall win in the XC1 class, something that was later decided by a penalty, and the crowning of Craig Delong has the new champion in the XC2 class.

The drama of the final round started before fuel was even put into the motorcycles, when two top riders announced that they would be absent from the starting line. FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Kaliub Russell decided that it was okay to end his legendary career one round early, citing the knee injury he overcame to secure an eighth and final GNCC title, while XC2 contender and Trail Jesters KTM rider Jonathan Girroir had to sit out the last race due to a severe concussion he suffered at the previous race.

You can bet that every rider on the starting line has thought about what it would be like to be the one that fills the void left by Russell and knew that the final round of 2020 would be a very good time to put in a statement ride, so it was no surprise that the bar-to-bar battle started the moment the green flag flew.

Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki rider Jordan Ashburn got the holeshot and controlled the race for the first two laps while the pack followed closely behind. Ashburn was overtaken by FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley and AmPro Yamaha’s Steward Baylor when it was time for the pit stop, but he held on to score a season-best third-place finish.

Kelley and Baylor are two of the riders already anticipated to be championship contenders in 2021 and their duel for the top spot reaffirmed that notion. In an appropriate end for 2020, the three-hour race came down to the very last lap, when Kelley and Baylor exchanged the top spot multiple times through blocks, passes, and overly creative lines. The final pass came after Kelley capitalized on a mistake by Baylor, powered by into the lead, and crossed the finish line in first place. But officials notified Kelley soon after that he would be docked one position for exceeding track limits a moment into the race, a decision that gave Baylor his fourth overall victory this season. Though Baylor was credited with the win, he complimented Kelley and said that the KTM rider was the better of the two on the day. 

A similar penalty decided both the day’s overall win and the series championship in the XC2 class. Eleven points split Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Craig Delong and AmPro Yamaha’s Michael Witkowski going into the final round, with Delong holding the advantage, but both knew anything could happen in the West Virginia woods. Witkowski worked his way into the lead early in the race while Delong ran further back in fourth place, and the distance between the two didn’t close enough for a one-on-one fight for the win. Knowing that the chance at the race win was slim but that the championship was in sight, Delong turned his attention to finishing on the podium while Witkowski stayed ahead and crossed the finish line in first place for the XC2 class. 

Delong knew he had clinched the championship when he took the checkered flag in second place, but just like in the XC1 class, presumed winner Witkowski was docked one position for an error early in the race and this decision made Delong the day’s overall winner.


XC1 Pro Event Results
1. Steward Baylor Jr. | YAM
2. Benjamin Kelley | KTM
3. Jordan Ashburn | KAW
4. Grant Baylor | SHR
5. Layne Michael | YAM
6. Andrew Delong | HON
7. Thad Duvall | HQV
8. Josh Strang | KAW
9. Trevor Bollinger | HQV
10. Evan Earl | KAW

XC2 250 Pro Event Results
1. Craig Delong | HQV
2. Michael Witkowski | YAM
3. Cody Barnes | BET
4. Jonathan Johnson | HON
5. Ryder Lafferty | HQV
6. Jesse Ansley | KTM
7. Benjamin Nelko | HQV
8. Samuel Evans | KTM
9. Ben Bouwens | YAM
10. Hunter Neuwirth | YAM

Overall National Championship Standings
1. Kailub Russell | 295
2. Josh Strang | 253
3. Jordan Ashburn | 206
4. Steward Baylor Jr. | 188
5. Craig Delong | 186
6. Benjamin Kelley | 178
7. Michael Witkowski | 175
8. Grant Baylor | 170
9. Jonathan Girroir | 146
10. Cody Barnes | 134

XC2 250 Pro Series Standings
1. Craig Delong | 316
2. Michael Witkowski | 304
3. Jonathan Girroir | 280
4. Cody Barnes | 229
5. Liam Draper | 204
6. Jonathan Johnson | 158
7. Ryder Lafferty | 150
8. Thorn Devlin | 145
9. Benjamin Nelko | 125
10. Jesse Ansley | 118

Michael Antonovich

Michael Antonovich has a wealth of experience with over 10 years of moto-journalism under his belt. A lifelong racing enthusiast and rider, Anton is the Editor of Swapmoto Live and lives to be at the race track.

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