Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Craig DeLong had a great showing at Saturday’s Mountaineer GNCC, where he made his seventh podium appearance of the season with a runner-up finish in the XC2 250 Pro class. In the XC1 Open Pro class, teammates Thad DuVall and Trevor Bollinger delivered solid performances to finish fifth and sixth, respectively, in the class.
The Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series ramped up with its 10th round following a two-month summer break and DeLong came into the weekend eager to chip away at the XC2 250 Pro class points lead. The defending champion got off to a great start as he assumed the lead early on, holding off a hard-charging Johnny Girroir for the first hour. Girroir was able to get by DeLong halfway through the third lap but he kept the lead-battle alive through the rest of the lap. With a costly mistake in the bike-only section, DeLong lost valuable time in the lead-chase but he put on a valiant charge during the final lap to cut the gap from over a minute all the way down to 24 seconds by the time the checkers flew.
“It was a good day,” DeLong said. “I led for two and a half laps and it was fun, Johnny and I were going back and forth and it was kind of like we were on a fast trail ride. I had a bobble and got stuck in the bike-only section and he got away from me. We were on different pit strategies so I lost sight of him and then he pulled a big gap and I was in no-man’s land so I just put my head down tried to reel him in there at the end but just kind of ran out of time.”
In the XC1 Open Pro class, DuVall put in a solid ride to finish fifth overall in only his third-consecutive race back from injury. DuVall didn’t get the best jump off the start but he worked his way into the top-five by the second lap. From there, DuVall maintained a solid pace in fifth and despite a pretty big crash with two laps to go, DuVall was able to re-mount and hold on to a top-five finish.
“I didn’t get a very good jump but I was able to sneak around the inside and I was eighth going into the woods,” DuVall said. “I got into a good pace and was able to start clicking off guys and I felt really comfortable on the bike at the beginning of the race. And then with two laps to go, I had a pretty big crash and wasn’t ever normal after that – I just couldn’t do anything right. No excuses, I just kind of fell apart at the end but I’ll come back stronger at the next one and work a little harder.”
Trevor Bollinger had a great start in the XC1 Open Pro class, mixing it up inside the top-three early on the opening lap. A few mistakes dropped him back a few positions but he continued to battle in seventh for the first two laps. At the start of the second hour, Bollinger put on a charge to make his way into sixth and from there he rode strong to finish one spot behind DuVall with sixth in the class.
“I got a good start and rode in third for most of the first lap,” Bollinger said. “I made a few little mistakes and the guys got by me and from there, I just tried to stick onto the little group that we had going. Honestly, I rode a lot better than the results show but I just had a few little sections that I kept messing up every lap. I’m pretty happy and looking forward to the next one.”