Kailub Russell (left) stands next to center podium for first time all season - Photo: Ken Hill
Kailub Russell's win streak in the 2015 Grand National Cross Country series ended at Seneca Highland in Odessa, NY on Sunday but he still reached the podium for the sixth straight race and despite not finishing first, he added to his lead in the points race.
The second-place result ended Russell's bid to tie Juha Salinen's record of six straight season opening wins back in 2006 but with Josh Strang unable to finish the race, Russell now holds a commanding 57 point lead in the National Championship Standings. This is the third consecutive year Russell managed to win five straight wins either to open a season or within a season.
The past two rounds proved to be Russell's toughest competition of the year as Grant Baylor battled for first in Round 5 only to land second just 20 seconds back and this time around it was Chris Bach taking the checkers, for his first GNCC career win, more than a minute ahead of Russell. The win was Bach's second podium of the year, the first came back in Round 1 when he took third.
"I just kept telling myself to relax and not let it get to me," Bach said. "I've never lead one of these for very long much less half the race."
It didn't come easy for Bach as he started in sixth-place and needed to get past Tyler Medaglia who grabbed the holeshot, Thad Duvall, second-year rider and former Supercross/Motocross standout Ryan Sipes and finally Russell.
Medaglia didn't hold on to the lead for long as Duvall quickly claimed front-runner status but brake issues troubled him all afternoon until he endured a nasty crash after his brakes failed, ending his day. That allowed Russell to get into familiar position out front and he spent the afternoon battling off Sipes and Bach before finally giving up the lead to Bach.
"It definitely stings a bit, but I have a nice cushion in the championship standings," Russell said of his win streak ending. "I struggled all day to find a groove and ride smooth and actually feel lucky to end up second, with some guys crashing out and having issues. I just wasn't able to ride for the win. Bach rode really well and earned it."
Bach and Sipes both moved up a spot in the standings to fourth- and sixth-place, respectively. Baylor's fourth-place results helped him close in on Strang who finished 10th in the XC1 Pro class but 227th place overall after all competing classes were accounted and received no points.
GNCC Round 7 is May 24 at Marvin's Mountain Top in Morgantown, WV.
2015 GNCC Round 6 XC1 Pro Results
- Chris Bach
- Kailub Russell - MotoSport rider
- Ryan Sipes
- Grant Baylor
- Andrew DeLong
- Takeshi Koikeda
- Chris Douglas
- Adam Bonneur
- Thad DuVall
- Josh Strang
2015 GNCC Overall National Championship Standings
- Kailub Russell (175) - MotoSport rider
- Josh Strang (118)
- Grant Baylor (108)
- Chris Bach (99)
- Thad DuVall (81)
- Ryan Sipes (72)
- Jason Thomas (65)
- Jordan Ashburn (60)
- Craig DeLong (54)
- Layne Michael (52)