Kailub Russell's primary challengers on Sunday for Round 8 of the 2015 Grand National Cross Country series at Sunday Creek Raceway included a rider with a bum shoulder and another who competed the day before in a Motocross race.
He had little trouble with both.
Josh Strang grabbed the holeshot just ahead of Russell at the John Penton round held in Millfield, OH but he didn't hold on to the lead for long as Russell quickly passed him and led from there increasing his lead as the race wore on. Strang, who dislocated his shoulder in a practice run prior to Round 7, called it a race after Round 4. That left Ryan Sipes, who returned to his former career event the day before and finished 11th overall in Round 4 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series in Tennessee.
Sipes, who finished second to Russell the last time out, had little trouble holding on to his runner-up spot as he also passed Strang on Lap 1. Grant Baylor and Thad Duvall battled it out through much of the race for the final podium spot with Baylor taking third, just one second in front of Duvall.
Russell, a MotoSport rider, crossed the checkers first more than 90 seconds in front of Sipes for his seventh win of the year, and second straight. He now holds an 88-point lead over Baylor in his attempt at winning three-straight Championships. Sipes jumped two spots into fourth-place and is just four points back from Bach in third. Sipes took up GNCC racing last year after competing nine years in Supercross and Motocross.
Kailub Russell stands with John Penton and the Round 8 winning trophy - an original Penton Motorcycle gas tank - All Photos: Ken Hill
The original John Penton was on-hand to present Russell a trophy - an original Penton Motorcycle gas tank. Penton, who the race is obviously named after, is widely considered a pioneer of off-road racing in the United States as he originally imported KTM motorcycles from Austria which came to be known as "Pentons" after he tweaked with and improved the machine.
"I am really happy with the race result today," said Russell, who rides for KTM. "If I could have written how this race would go, this is very close to how it would have happened."
Elsewhere, MotoSport rider Kacy Martinez was more than refreshed after her X Games bronze medal performance on Friday in Austin, TX for Women's Enduro X as she led every lap for her seventh win of the season in the Women's class. She now holds a 15 point lead over Becca Sheets in her attempt at winning back-to-back Championships.
GNCC Round 9 is June 21 at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Snowshoe, WV. It's the final round before the three-month summer break. The series resumes in September.
2015 GNCC Round 8 XC1 Pro Results
- Kailub Russell - MotoSport rider
- Ryan Sipes
- Grant Baylor
- Thad DuVall
- Andrew DeLong
- Jordan Ashburn
- Steward Baylor
- Chris Bach
- Takeshi Koikeda
- Chris Douglas
2015 GNCC Overall National Championship Standings
- Kailub Russell (235) - MotoSport rider
- Grant Baylor (147)
- Chris Bach (126)
- Ryan Sipes (122)
- Thad DuVall (120)
- Josh Strang (118)
- Jordan Ashburn (89)
- Jason Thomas (87)
- Ricky Russell (70)
- Craig DeLong (67)