Buckwheat 100 GNCC: Dramatic penultimate round as Delong wins and Baylor suffers
Results and RAW video highlights from a dramatic penultimate round of the 2023 GNCC Racing season, the Buckwheat 100 in West Virginia, where Craig DeLong turned the championship tables with the win as Steward Baylor suffers a mechanical.
If you thought the 2023 GNCC Racing season might finally be the one where Steward Baylor took the title, think again. A small matter of a suspension bolt caused the, up till now, points leader a costly pitstop and a points lead became a big deficit in just a few short minutes.
Leading from the start, Craig Delong had his head down for the win regardless of what was going on behind.
The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing sealed his third win of the season and turned a five points gap from Baylor to a whopping 23-point advantage with one round remaining.
But it wasn’t as easy as that sounds with a train of riders following in his roost and pushing all the way. “I came into today with the mindset to win,” said Delong.
“I knew that we needed it, and I just put my head down and made it happen. That’s a bummer for Stew, you never want that to happen. Now we’ve got one round left to seal this championship. We’ll be ready for Ironman.”
Ryder Lafferty was in the mix for the overall but a final lap crash allowed Ricky Russell, who also crashed on the same lap, to claim second, just six seconds adrift of Delong. Josh Strang was only two seconds back from Russell at the flag for the final spot on the podium, his second of the season, to finish just six seconds ahead of Jordan Ashburn in fourth with Grant Baylor making it two Babbitt’s Kawasakis in the top five.
“It was an epic track, but it was hard to push,” said Russell. “Last lap I tried to make a pass on Ryder [Lafferty] and I went down, and I was trying to catch up then and I saw Ryder down so he must have fell but Craig [Delong] was gone. I pulled it in for second, I’m happy and rode good all day and I feel good.”
Steward Baylor? The collapsing rear end of his bike caused him to run back to the pits where he was understandably incensed while his crew found and fixed the problem. It’s understood it was a rear suspension linkage bolt, which they replaced, and Stew went back out but had to re-join where he left off which added to the time lost and he eventually finished P20 overall.
2023 Buckwheat 100 GNCC overall Pro results (top 20):
GNCC Championship standings with one round remaining (top 20)
Down under takeover in XC2
Trail Jesters KTM Racing’s Mason Semmens took the holeshot in XC2 class but AmPro Yamaha’s Liam Draper took over during lap one followed by FMF/RPM KTM Racing’s Angus Riordan.
The XC2 National Championship contenders traded places with Riordan taking the lead on lap three, but Draper pushing back on the fourth lap.
“Strategic line choices” helped keep Riordan behind and gave Draper the win to extend his points lead in class. Semmens rounded out the top three.
Beaver Creek Cycles/Bells Electric/Wossner Piston’s Toby Cleveland claimed the XC3 125 win after a scrap in class.
AMPro Yamaha took two Pro podiums with Rachel Archer claiming the Women’s class plus the overall in the morning race ahead of Kiefer Galiano and 150 Schoolboy B (12-17) class winner Caden Staats who was third overall in the race.
Photo Credit: Ken Hill
Video Credit: On The Pipe Podcast