Kailub Russell entered Round 7 of the 2014 Grand National Cross Country series desperately needing a win. The defending champion sat in second-place, 12 points behind the leader and coming off two hard fought races without victory.
Russell grabbed the holeshot, took the fastest lap award and sweetest of all, led from beginning to end winning his fourth of the season in convincing style on Sunday at Marvin's Mountain Top in Masontown, WV. Russell beat his teammate and race runner-up Charlie Mullins, who crashed at the end of the third lap, by nearly two minutes.
"I tried to sprint the first three miles because I wasn't sure who was behind me and wanted to get a gap," Russell said. "Once I saw it was Charlie, I was able to pace myself and then sprinted again once we got into lappers."
Kailub Russell wins his fourth of the season - Photos: Ken Hill
Russell said overall he had an uneventful day which probably came as a relief since he's endured several crashes this year. In Round 5, Russell flipped end-over-end but managed to finish in third. In the season opener, he and Mullins and a few other riders took to the dirt on the first turn. Mullins managed to knock off the win but ensuing mechanical problems left Russell in ninth-place and 14th overall.
"Prior to the race I spent a week up in the area of the race riding rocks and preparing for the rough terrain of West Virginia," Russell said. "As the race wore on I got more comfortable with the track and kept increasing my lead over my teammate and had a near flawless day on the bike."
Russell did encounter a loose wire on the track during the final lap which wrapped around the rear wheel and brake caliper. The only damage is it kept the rear brake from working but Russell's lead was so far along he had little trouble taking home the checkered flag.
The win closes the gap between Russell and Mullins, who remain the only riders to win a race this season, to seven points. Josh Strang battled back from a rough start to finish third. Former Supercross/Motocross stand-out Ryan Sipes took ninth in the XC1 class and 13th overall.
GNCC Round 8 is June 8 at Sunday Creek raceway in Millfield, OH.
2014 GNCC Round 7 XC1 Pro Results
- Kailub Russell - MotoSport rider
- Charlie Mullins
- Josh Strang
- Jordan Ashburn
- Andrew Delong
- Chris Bach
- Jason Thomas
- Paul Whibley
- Ryan Sipes
- Tom McCormack
2014 GNCC Overall National Championship Standings
- Charlie Mullins (180)
- Kailub Russell (173) - MotoSport rider
- Josh Strang (132)
- Jordan Ashburn (111)
- Paul Whibley (99)
- Grant Baylor (91)
- Ricky Russell (89)
- Andrew Delong (86)
- Steward Baylor (71)
- Chris Bach (65)