The 2014 Grand National Cross Country series comes to a close this weekend with Round 13 at the AMSOIL Ironman in Crawfordsville, IN and though the Championship is settled the final podium standings remain open.
Kailub Russell secured his second consecutive Championship in Round 11 last month and on Sunday plans to ride, once again, a KTM 150XC 2-stroke, a far cry from his championship winning bike, a KTM 350 4-stroke.
He rode the 150 in the last round and took second place but if he wins this round he'll be the first to win a GNCC race on a small bore 2-stroke since 2001. The bike is part of a fund-raising raffle to help offset costs for Russell to attend the International Six Day Enduro in Argentina next month and raise money to help friend and rider Rory Mead continue spinal injury rehabilitation. Mead, who was leading in points for the XC2 Pro Lites class, fractured the C5 and C6 vertebrae in his neck after a crash halfway through the final lap of Round 3 in March at Steele Creek.
"I'm excited to race the 150 again," said Russell, a MotoSport rider. "It's so much fun to ride and I definitely want to win on it as it's been over a decade since a small bore two stroke has won an overall. But it will be very tough to overcome some of the steep uphills and countless mud holes this track has to offer."
Though Russell plans to ride hard, his competition may be the toughest of the year. Josh Strang moved into the second-place spot in the Overall National Championship Standings after grabbing his first race win of the season last round. He holds on to an eight point lead over Jordan Ashburn. Charlie Mullins, who broke his wrist prior to Round 8, returned to racing in Round 12, three weeks ago, and took fourth. He had a seven point lead over Russell after Round 7 but his absence dropped him to fourth-place in the overall standings. He's 11 points out from a spot on the Championship podium. Only Russell, Mullins and Strang have wins in the XC1 Pro class this season. Grant Baylor, who already wrapped up the XC2 Pro Lites Championship, is also in the mix for the National Championship podium though he'll need a win and some help. Sunday also marks Baylor's first race in the XC1 class.
Raffle tickets for Russell's bike can be purchased online until 4 p.m. (EST) Saturday through Shane Watts's website or in the FMF KTM pit area at the race. Raffle tickets are $20 each, $50 for three or $100 for 10. The winner gets Russell's 150 bike completely refurbished, a set of riding gear and a signed Russell #1 race jersey, among other things. The raffle drawing includes prizes for second- through fifth-place winners and will be held on Sunday after the race. Winners do not need to be present.
Gates drop for the final round of the 2014 GNCC series at 1 p.m. (EST) on Sunday at the Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, IN. .
Overall National Championship Standings:
- Kailub Russell (318) - 2014 GNCC Champion
- Josh Strang (216)
- Jordan Ashburn (208)
- Charlie Mullins (198)
- Grant Baylor (191)
- Paul Whibley (164)
- Andrew Delong (160)
- Chris Bach (123)
- Steward Baylor Jr. (118)
- Ricky Russell (117)