thad duvall

Photo credit: Ken Hill

The 2017 AMA Grand National Cross Country series heads into the final round of racing this weekend at the Ironman GNCC in Crawfordsville, IN.

With the XC1, XC2 and XC3 championships already wrapped up, round 13 will be less about points and more about pride as a deep field of talent are expected to compete in this year’s highly anticipated season finale.

One of the riders who will definitely be going for the win is Rockstar Husqvarna's Thad Duvall. After finally getting released from an injury he sustained at the FIM International Six Days Enduro, Duvall has been diligently working to make his return at the season finale.

If racing was anything like it was before he left, the Indiana race fans and online viewers on Racer TV will be in for a treat. Duvall, a member of the first ever champion U.S. World Trophy Team, has plenty of drive heading into this weekend. That, mixed with his strong showings earlier in the season, makes Duvall a top contender and a rider to keep an eye on this Sunday.

FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell wrapped up his fifth consecutive GNCC National Championship at the previous GNCC in Ohio. Russell’s win also tied him with Scott Summers on the all-time win list, but as he tries to top the charts another win won’t come easy for him with the return of Thad Duvall.

kailub russell

Photo credit: Ken Hill

The battle for third

N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha’s Ricky Russell and SRT/KTM’s Steward Baylor both have the opportunity to claim the third-place position in points depending on their finishes at Ironman Raceway.

Both riders have shown great consistency the entire season, and while they may not always finish on the box, there have been many opportunities for them to shine with each having an overall win this year. R Russell is especially hungry for the final win of the 2017 season, before he heads to Japan to represent the United States in the Japan National Cross Country Series on November 5.

steward baylor

Photo credit: Ken Hill

JCR Honda’s Trevor Bollinger is known for his consistent strong showings at Ironman Raceway, and will be shooting to end his rookie season on the box, while Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Josh Strang will be looking to repeat his success from the past round with another podium finish.

After landing his first-ever GNCC podium in Ohio, Russell Bobbitt is another rider who shows great promise in putting his FMF/KTM Factory Racing machine on the box this Sunday, along with Coastal Racing/Husqvarna’s Ryan Sipes. Sipes has been busy during the three-week hiatus from GNCC racing where he competed in the Red Bull Straight Rhythm competition in California.

Sipes has quickly become one of the most well-rounded racers and with his recent overall win, he now has the knowledge to be a constant podium threat.

After narrowly missing the podium at the Powerline Park GNCC, Rocky Mountain ATV*MC/KR4/ Husqvarna’s Grant Baylor will not only be a contender for the podium, but also for the win. G Baylor is known for his ability to excel at technical tracks such as the Ironman, and will be charging hard to finish off his season victorious.

mike witkowski

Photo credit: Ken Hill

Another win for Toth?

The 2017 XC2 250 Pro champion Josh Toth heads into the thirteenth and final round looking to end his season with his eighth win of the season. Toth has put in more than impressive results this year aboard his N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha machine where he hasn’t finished worse than fourth. Coastal Racing/Husqvarna teammates Craig Delong and Layne Michael hold the second and third place XC2 250 Pro class championship, with only six points separating the pair.

Delong’s consistency has proven to be a deciding factor in the points chase, but Michael’s six-race podium streak and two wins means there could be a change-up in the championship standings. The battles between the two teammates have showcased their top talent and will cumulate this weekend at the 23rd Annual Ironman GNCC.

craig delong

Photo credit: Ken Hill

With the title already in hand, Rocky Mountain ATV*MC/KR4/Husqvarna Team’s Tayla Jones will once again race in the three-hour race in the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class. Fly Racing/Maxxis/Seat Concepts/KTM’s Becca Sheets will contest for her third win of the season, while The Motorcycle Shop/Kenda/Bell/V3 Off-Road-backed Brooke Cosner will be aiming to steal the spotlight.

Bonanza Plumbing/Trail Jester KTM’s Mackenzie Tricker will not be participating in the season finale due to recovering from a shoulder injury that occurred practice last week. The Australian rider will return in 2018 and restart her quest for the WXC National Championship.