The summer break is over and the 2014 Grand National Cross Country series returns this weekend for Round 10 at the Unadilla Raceway in New Berlin, NY.
Points leader Kailub Russell, a MotoSport-sponsored rider, heads into the final stretch with a 53-point lead over his FMF/KTM teammate Charlie Mullins, who broke his wrist earlier this year and missed the last two rounds. With four rounds remaining and Mullins not expected to be back until the end of the month for Round 11 in Pennsylvania, Russell simply needs to stay healthy and upright to grab his second consecutive championship.
"Going into the final four I want to do the same thing I've done the last three, keep winning," Russell said. "If I can manage to win out, KTM would sweep the series (win every race) which has never been done by a single manufacturer before. So no I do not plan on laying up and playing it safe."
Russell and Mullins nearly accomplished the feat last year but Thad Duvall won Round 5 on a Honda. In Russell's way this year is Josh Strang who is just 15 points behind Mullins in third and is sure to try and take advantage of his absence and move into the second-place position. Last time out, Jordan Ashburn posted his best race of the season taking second. He's in fourth-place just 11 points behind Strang in the Championship standings.
As for the nearly three-months off of racing, Russell kept his same workout and cycling routine to stay in shape over the summer. He also entered the Tennessee Knock Out, an extreme endurocross type of competition, and a Round in the 2014 GEICO AMA Endurocross series last month in Atlanta.
"I didn't have much luck doing the extreme enduro and endurocross," he said. "It was tough and I was not as prepared as I would have liked to have been, but had a lot of fun doing it."
Unadilla is one of the oldest tracks in Motocross but only hosted its first GNCC race in 2005. It features wide, sweeping corners and steep elevation changes. The course for GNCC keeps portions of the track used for Motocross. Russell said it's the shortest track in the series but also very fast. It's one of the most popular events in the series for riders and spectators. Russell won last year and can become only the second rider to win more than once at Unadilla if he takes the checkered flag on Sunday.
Pro bikes start GNCC Round 10 at 1 p.m. (EST) Sunday.
- Kailub Russell (233) - MotoSport rider
- Charlie Mullins (180)
- Josh Strang (165)
- Jordan Ashburn (154)
- Grant Baylor (134)
- Paul Whibley (123)
- Andrew Delong (119)
- Ricky Russell (109)
- Steward Baylor (102)
- Chris Bach (92)