Kailub Russell extended his Championship points lead in the 2015 Grand National Cross Country series to 104 with a hard-fought win for Round 9 on Sunday at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia.

Snowshoe lived up to its billing as the toughest course in the series and some pre-race rain didn't make riding any easier as conditions turned slick and muddy quickly.

Ryan Sipes, who finished second to Russell in the last two rounds and looking for his first career win in GNCC since crossing over last year from Motocross, started strong again and was leading early when he hit his knee on a rock after a crash which ended his day.

That opened the door to Thad Duvall who looked like Russell's stiffest competition since Chris Bach who won Round 6 ending Russell's season-opening win streak at five. But Duvall struggled in the mud and at one point during the race went through a mud hole that Russell circumvented.

"I went for it but didn't make it," Duvall said who settled on second place. "I gave it my all but I fell a little short. Kailub really turned it up the last two laps. I was reeling it in a little slow. I could see him looking back and checking on me."

Russell, a MotoSport rider, claimed his eighth victory of the season by nearly 90 seconds. It was Russell's 30th career victory and his third straight victory at Snowshoe, joining David Knight as the only riders to win this tough course three straight years. Knight won from 2007-09.

"I knew from walking the track it was going to be a rough day," said Russell, who also overcame a rough start to claim the lead. "I had a fun day. I was able to put down a solid couple of laps, break away and get the win. It's a tough place. When it rains it's a brutal beast."

Jordan Ashburn took third for his first podium of the season. Duvall's second place bumped him from fifth to third-place in the standings and he now holds a one point lead over Bach who dropped to fourth-place after finishing fourth. Grant Baylor holds onto second-place and Sipes brought home a 15th place in the XC1 class but 147th overall netting him no points which dropped him from fourth to fifth-place in the standings.

Russell should wrap up his third consecutive Championship when the GNCC series resumes in September for the final four rounds. He'll need to end Round 10 at Unadilla with at least 90 points separating him from second-place which shouldn't be too hard since he's won there the last two years. Russell can overtake Rodney Smith for second-place on the all-time wins list for bikes if he wins out.

Elsewhere, Kacy Martinez wrapped up back-to-back Championships with her fifth straight win in the Women's class and eighth WXC win of the season. Martinez, a MotoSport rider, also won last year's Championship after the Snowshoe round.

"It feels pretty good to get it wrapped up with four races still to go before the summer break," she said. "I can take it easy a little bit over the summer break but I won't take too much time off and hop right back in to it to get the last four rounds under my belt and on top of the box."

GNCC racing resumes Sept 20th at Unadilla Raceway in New Berlin, NY.

2015 GNCC Round 9 XC1 Pro Results

  1. Kailub Russell - MotoSport rider
  2. Thad DuVall
  3. Jordan Ashburn
  4. Chris Bach
  5. Grant Baylor
  6. Taylor Robert
  7. Steward Baylor
  8. Daniel Milner
  9. Adam Bonneur
  10. Chris Douglas

2015 GNCC Overall National Championship Standings

  1. Kailub Russell (265) - MotoSport rider
  2. Grant Baylor (161)
  3. Thad Duvall (145)
  4. Chris Bach (144)
  5. Ryan Sipes (122)
  6. Josh Strang (118)
  7. Jordan Ashburn (110)
  8. Jason Thomas (103)
  9. Ricky Russell (79)
  10. Craig DeLong (75)

Written By: AndrewT