After Round 6 of the 2013 Grand National Cross Country Series, eventual champion Kailub Russell was 19 points behind the first place Charlie Mullins.
Round 7 of the 2014 GNCC series is Sunday and once again Russell is in second place to Mullins, this time 12 points behind. With the season nearly half over, Russell is now perhaps in a must-win situation. Russell's five podium's this year is the same number he had this time last year but the difference in his favor is three wins this season compared to just one at this point last year.
Round 7 in 2013 also marked the first of five straight wins that propelled Russell back into the championship race and the 2013 title.
He narrowly won Round 6 two weeks ago at Loretta Lynn's grabbing the holeshot and Fastest Lap Award but a slick first turn, an unexpected stop to change his goggles, and then a last minute gas fill-up were just enough to give Mullins a six second win.
"On the last lap I made a little mistake and Charlie got around me," Russell said after Round 6. "We battled pretty hard the next couple of corners, banging bars pretty hard and fighting for the first place position. I kind of got rebounded out of a rut and it sent me to the ground. I put on a hard charge to catch up but the damage was done."
Kailub Russell crashes hard in Round 5
Russell and Mullins, both Factory FMF/KTM teammates, each have three wins this season - the only winners thus far. Russell, a MotoSport-sponsored rider started the season in 14th place overall after finishing in ninth-place in the XC1 class. In that race, Russell and Mullins endured a first turn pile-up which both riders rebounded from but mechanical issues sent Russell out of the Top 10 overall.
Russell also endured an end-over-end crash in Round 5 which can be seen in this Driven To Win video. The crash kept him from winning the race but not off the podium where he settled for third place.
Check out Russell and Mullins continue their season-long battle in Round 7 at 1 p.m. (EST) on Sunday at Marvin's Mountain Top in Masontown, WV.
Overall National Championship Standings
- Charlie Mullins (155)
- Kailub Russell (143) - MotoSport rider
- Josh Strang (111)
- Jordan Ashburn (93)
- Paul Whibley (89)
- Grant Baylor (80)
- Ricky Russell (74)
- Steward Baylor (71)
- Andrew Delong (70)
- Thad DuVall (61)