Photo: Ken Hill

Kailub Russell returned to his familiar spot on the podium fending off a very feisty Ryan Sipes to win Round 7 of the 2015 Grand National Cross Country series held on Sunday in West Virginia.

Russell came up short two weeks ago in his bid to win six straight, a feat that would have tied him with Juha Salinen's 2006 record, but this time he grabbed the lead on Lap 3 and took it from there. It was his sixth victory of the year and extends his lead in the point standings to 79.

The last few rounds have thrown different competitors at Russell as Grant Baylor put in a serious challenge in Round 5, Chris Bach ended the win streak in Round 6, and this time it was Sipes, the former Supercross/Motocross standout, exchanging leads with Russell before the two-time defending Champion made the pass and held on for the win.

"We kind of went back and forth a few times," said Russell, a MotoSport rider. "It was just tough the first few laps reading the trail and not knowing where some rocks were that you could hit."

Sipes, who was sponsored by MotoSport a few years back in Supercross and is in his second year racing GNCC, held on for second, a career best. Thad Duvall came on in the final laps to grab third, his fourth podium of the season. Josh Strang, who finished second to Russell in the first four rounds, suffered a separated shoulder in practice and did not compete. He fell to third in the standings and Grant Baylor, who finished fourth on Sunday, moves into the second-place spot.

Elsewhere, Kacy Martinez won her third straight and sixth of the year in the Women's Class. Martinez holds a 14 point lead over Becca Sheets in her bid to repeat as champion.

Two rounds remain before the three-month summer break. GNCC Round 8 is June 7 at Sunday Creek Raceway in Millfield, OH.

2015 GNCC Round 7 XC1 Pro Results

  1. Kailub Russell - MotoSport rider
  2. Ryan Sipes
  3. Thad DuVall
  4. Grant Baylor
  5. Chris Bach
  6. Jordan Ashburn
  7. Steward Baylor
  8. Andrew DeLong
  9. Adam Bonneur
  10. Takeshi Koikeda

2015 GNCC Overall National Championship Standings

  1. Kailub Russell (205) - MotoSport rider
  2. Grant Baylor (126)
  3. Josh Strang (118)
  4. Chris Bach (115)
  5. Thad DuVall (102)
  6. Ryan Sipes (97)
  7. Jason Thomas (75)
  8. Jordan Ashburn (74)
  9. Ricky Russell (60)
  10. Layne Michael (60)