Defending Grand National Cross Country Champion Kailub Russell rebounded last week from a difficult 14th-place overall in Round 1 and clawed his way to a win and third place in the championship standings.

The MotoSport-sponsored rider is back on track as he sits only eight points from the lead and a win in Round 3 can close the gap with his teammate Charlie Mullins who is the only GNCC rider to podium in both rounds. The season is early as Russell's Round 2 win enabled him to jump 11 spots. Three riders in the Top 10 the first week bowed out the second week. Mullins and Paul Whibley held on to their first and second place positions, respectively, and Josh Strang held on to third-place but is now tied with Russell.

Photo by Ken Hill

The 2014 GNCC field is one of the most competitive in history with four previous GNCC champions in the mix, a young Grant Baylor who fought tough with Russell in Round 2 and nearly won, and former Supercross/Motocross standout Ryan Sipes now trying his hand in offroad. Sipes has placed eighth two-weeks in a row in the XC1 Pro class.

Though severe weather shortened the Round 2 race at Aonia Pass in Washington, GA to a two-hour minimum, riders can expect a return to the full three-hour marathon on Sunday at Steele Creek Campground in Morganton, NC.

GNCC Overall National Championship Standings:

  1. Charlie Mullins (45)
  2. Paul Whibley (43)
  3. Kailub Russell (37) - MotoSport rider
  4. Josh Strang (37)
  5. Jordan Ashburn (35)
  6. Steward Baylor (28)
  7. Grant Baylor (28)
  8. Rory Mead (27)
  9. Ricky Russell (22)
  10. Trevor Bollinger (21)