Kailub Russell made it look easy this time in another mud soaked Grand National Cross Country race for Round 3 held on Sunday at Steele Creek Campground in Morganton, NC.

The defending champion pulled out in front after the holeshot and quickly raced to a more than one minute lead over teammate and eventual second-place finisher Charlie Mullins. An all-day rain on Saturday turned the event into another mud-fest but unlike the shortened Round 2 at Aonia Pass, riders this time braved an entire three-hour race in the muck.

Russell's second win helps make up for the overall 14th place deficit from Round 1. He now is only three points behind Mullins in the National Championship standings.

Kailub Russell celebrates his second victory - photos by Ken Hill

"Getting the win at Georgia somewhat took the pressure off getting me back in the championship hunt but I still put the pressure on myself to perform and get race wins," Russell said prior to Round 3. "Just because I won Georgia and got myself back in the hunt, doesn't mean I want to find myself settling and not going after race wins."

Russell went into Steele Creek tied with Josh Strang for third and six points behind Paul Whibley for second. In Round 3, Strang battled Mullins but eventually settled for third place and Whibley finished in 15th place in the XC1 class but a 179th overall finish garnering him no points. Russell is now nine points ahead of Strang and Whibley's finish pushed him down to sixth-place.

Ryan Sipes, a former Supercross/Motocross racer trying his hand in offroad, took ninth-place in the XC1 Pro class and a personal best 12th overall.

GNCC XC1 Results:

  1. Kailub Russell
  2. Charlie Mullins
  3. Josh Strang
  4. Thad Duvall
  5. Steward Baylor
  6. Jordan Ashburn
  7. Andrew Delong
  8. Chris Bach
  9. Ryan Sipes
  10. Takeshi Koikeda

GNCC Overall National Championship standings:

  1. Charlie Mullins (70)
  2. Kailub Russell (67)
  3. Josh Strang (58)
  4. Jordan Ashburn (50)
  5. Steward Baylor (44)
  6. Paul Whibley (43)
  7. Grant Baylor (38)
  8. Thad Duvall (36)
  9. Trevor Bollinger (34)
  10. Ricky Russell (33)