CRAIG DELONG COMES FROM BEHIND TO
SECURE SECOND OVERALL AT BURR OAK GNCC
ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING’S THAD DUVALL
CLAIMS A TOP-FIVE IN XC1
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Craig DeLong put forth an impressive come-from-behind performance on Sunday to earn a second-place finish at the Burr Oak GNCC in Millfield, Ohio. Eleven rounds into the 2021 Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series, the defending XC2 250 Pro Champion enjoyed his ninth podium appearance of the season, including one win, as he holds a strong second in the championship standings.
DeLong had a misfire off the start and found himself buried on the opening lap but he put his head down and charged up to third by the end of lap one. Engaging in an intense three-way battle up front, the Pennsylvania native sat within striking distance in third for the first three laps before making his way up to second with two laps to go. He brought himself within five seconds of the leader with one lap to go and he was on-track to contest for the lead spot until getting stopped up on a hill climb late in the race. He charged hard in the final moments to finish only 16 seconds back for second-place.
“I had my work cut out for me early on after screwing up the start,” DeLong said. “One-by-one I started clicking them off and the three of us kind of just rode together for about an hour and a half. Johnny [Girroir] sprinted to get out front and I reeled him back in but I had to pit on the last lap and he gapped me a bit. I screwed up one of the hills in the Penton Section and didn’t make it, so they had to throw the bike back down to me so I could hit it again and luckily, I made it but I lost about 30 seconds. I put my head back down for a last-lap charge but it wasn’t enough to get him.”
In the XC1 Open Pro class, DuVall found himself back in ninth off the start but he charged his FX 350 into a top-five position by the third lap. He fought his way into the podium battle on lap three but a small mistake allowed the top-three riders to slip away. With two laps to go, DuVall made another big charge to make his way from sixth to fifth, where he finished not too far from the podium battle.
“My FX 350 worked great all day, we’ve been doing some testing over the last week and got it working really good,” DuVall said. “I worked my way to third at one time and just had a silly mistake and Ben got away from me but I got into a battle with a few guys and battled all the way to the finish. It was a great day, I felt like I rode really well and I felt like I rode better here than the last round for sure. I was up in the mix today, so we’re getting better and starting to get the racing back under me so I’m looking forward to finishing the last two rounds strong.”
Trevor Bollinger had a great start, powering his FX 450 to the holeshot and early lead in the race. He settled into third on the opening lap and raced inside podium contention for the first two laps. Unfortunately, Bollinger got stuck in a ravine and lost a substantial amount of time, dropping back to eighth halfway through the race. He made a last-lap charge to pick up another position late in the race, finishing seventh on the day.
“Today was definitely a step in the right direction for me,” Bollinger said. “It’s been a tough year with two knee surgeries and you don’t realize how much you lose when you’re not racing – I sat out a whole year. Today, I was able to ride up front for a few laps until I got stuck in a ravine and lost a bunch of time, but if it wasn’t for that I could have been fighting for the podium. On a positive note, this gave me a lot of confidence in knowing that I still got it and I can still run up front.”
Next Round: Newburg, West Virginia – October 10, 2021
Results: Burr Oak GNCC
XC2 250 Pro Class
1. Jonathan Girroir (GAS)
2. Craig DeLong – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team
3. Mike Witkowski (YAM)
XC1 Open Pro Class
1. Steward Baylor Jr. (YAM)
2. Ben Kelley (KTM)
3. Jordan Ashburn (HQV)
5. Thad DuVall – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team
7. Trevor Bollinger – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team
2021 Championship Standings – After Round 11 of 13
XC2 250 Pro Class Championship Standings
1. Jonathan Girroir – 292 points
2. Craig DeLong – Rockstar Energy Factory Racing Team – 248 points
3. Mike Witkowski – 169 points