THAD DUVALL TAKES SERIES FINALE WIN AMID MUDDY CONDITIONS
ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING’S CRAIG DELONG GRABS PODIUM SPOT IN XC1 DEBUT
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thad DuVall captured the overall win and Craig DeLong landed third in XC1 after battling some of the toughest conditions of the season at the 2021 Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series finale in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
With a weather delay preventing an on-time race start, race officials ultimately shortened the event from three to two hours due to the extreme conditions and it was an all-out battle to see who could make it to the finish. DuVall, coming off a third-place finish at the previous round, put himself into podium contention from the start of the race as he charged his FX 350 into second on the opening lap. He dropped to third on lap two but he overtook second once again on lap three after his teammate, Trevor Bollinger, experienced bike issues ahead of him. With one lap to go, DuVall made his way into the battle for the lead and he made his move on Josh Strang during a stop for goggles, but Strang fought back and reclaimed the lead in the pits shortly after. Then, the duo charged to the finish on the last lap with DuVall regaining the advantage to secure his first victory of the season by a 28-second margin.
“This one feels good,” DuVall said. “This has been a long time coming. Just to be up here in the middle of the box and to win with how [the weather] is. I feel like there’s more pressure on me when it’s super muddy because I’ve won really muddy races in the past, so I feel like everyone kind of expects me to be up front. To win today is special and to do it battling Strang all day was pretty bad ass. We were hooting and hollering at each other all day and it was fun. I just got lucky on the last lap when he picked a bad line. After that, I could actually breathe and race my own race.”
DeLong made his XC1 Open Pro class debut at the final round, putting his FX 350 inside the top-10 overall and snagged a spot on the XC1 podium. After a good launch off the start, DeLong held fourth for a couple laps before moving into third. His tactic to be sensible and finish the race, despite the challenging track conditions, worked. After racing in the XC2 class for 12 of the 13 rounds, he finished second in XC2 points. He will use what he learned in that class to propel him forward in XC1 next year.
“I wasn’t setting the world on fire with speed; I was slow and steady,” DeLong said. “Everyone just seemed to keep breaking down. I knew it was going to be survival race, so to get through the race was the first goal and we did that. Then, we got third place. Obviously, I can’t complain with that. Next year, I want to be in the XC1 battle. I’ve got a lot to learn but it will be exciting.”
Coming off his first podium finish of the season at last weekend’s AMA National Enduro round, Trevor Bollinger kept the momentum rolling as he powered his FX 450 into third early on, soon working his way into the lead by the second lap. Unfortunately, like many riders at the season finale, his bike succumbed to the terrible track conditions, and he ended up seventh in XC1 at Ironman. Bollinger takes home a top-10 finish in the championship standings.
“I got a decent start and then fell back before we got into the woods,” Bollinger said. “By the second lap, I made my way into the lead. I don’t know how big of a lead I had – probably a minute or so – but unfortunately, my bike didn’t make it any further. I called it quits early, but it’s a good thing we were riding well. I just have to carry that into next year.”
Results: Ironman GNCC
XC1 Open Pro Class
1. Thad DuVall – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team
2. Josh Strang (KAW)
3. Craig DeLong – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team
7. Trevor Bollinger – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team
2021 Championship Standings – After Round 13 of 13
XC1 Open Pro Championship Standings
1. Ben Kelley – 304 points
2. Steward Baylor Jr. – 284 points
3. Jordan Ashburn (HQV) – 215 points
8. Thad DuVall – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team – 136 points
10. Trevor Bollinger – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team – 94 points
XC2 250 Pro Class Championship Standings
1. Jonathan Girroir – 336 points
2. Craig DeLong – Rockstar Energy Factory Racing Team – 269 points
3. Lyndon Snodgrass – 217 points