GNCC

Josh Strang Second as Kailub Russell Extends Win Streak to Four

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Factory FMF/KTM's Kailub Russell extended his win-streak to four-in-a-row on Sunday at round four of the 2015 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Maxxis, an AMA National Championship, in Union, South Carolina.

After more than three-hours of intense racing at the VP Racing Fuels Big Buck GNCC, Russell came away with his 26th career win, where he now sits tied with Ed Lojak for third place on the All-Time Bike Wins list in GNCC Racing.

Russell began the day out front after capturing the $250 All Balls Racing Holeshot Award and the two-time GNCC National Champion set the pace from there. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Josh Strang put himself into the second place position right way on the opening lap and began his three-hour charge toward Russell out front.

As Strang worked diligently to catch the leader, JCR Honda's Chris Bach led the rest of the pack in a race-long battle for the third and final podium position.

Bach jumped into the third place position on the opening lap with AirGroup/Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna's Ryan Sipes and N-Fab AmPro Yamaha teammates Daniel Milner and Grant Baylor close in tow. The pack exchanged positions throughout the afternoon but the man on the move was XC1 Pro rookie Grant Baylor, who eventually put himself into a favorable third place position around the halfway mark.
Josh Strang earned yet another second place finish, where he sits only 20 points away from the championship leader - Credit: Ken Hill
Meanwhile, Strang continued to charge toward Russell in the lead, closing the gap to as little as 15 seconds at one point. Russell lost some valuable time in the first couple of laps when he experienced two crashes that sent him off the bike and onto the ground.

However, the reigning champion was able to quickly bounce back to ultimately maintain a 41-second over Strang as he crossed the finish line for his 26th career win in GNCC Racing.

Russell's victory also signifies an undefeated season through the first four rounds, something that hasn't been done since Josh Strang's championship reign in 2010. Strang scored his fourth runner-up position of the season, where he sits only 20 points behind Russell in the championship standings.
Grant Baylor put in an impressive ride to capture third overall in front of his home state of South Carolina - Credit: Ken Hill
Despite starting his day outside the top five, South Carolina native Grant Baylor immediately put his head down and made a charge through the pack. Once Baylor made his way into the third place position, it was all eyes on the second place of Strang. As the white flag flew, Strang held a 20-second advantage over Baylor but an impressive last-lap charge by Baylor resulted in an XC1 career-best finish of third overall, where he finished only four seconds behind in the end.

After running in the podium pack all afternoon, Bach was able to maintain his consistency with a solid fourth place finish for the day, followed by Moto-Tech/KTM's Steward Baylor in fifth. Sipes lost one position on the final lap to finish sixth behind Baylor.

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Andrew Delong made his return to racing after a collarbone injury at the season opener removed him from competition at rounds two and three. Delong put in a consistent ride to finish seventh place for the day, with HR Motorsports/Honda-backed Takeshi Koikeda in eighth. Chris Douglas finished ninth and Funmart Cycle/FLY/RidePG.com's Adam Bonneur rounded out the top ten in XC1.

It was a tough day for N-Fab AmPro Yamaha's Jordan Ashburn, who experienced a rear brake issue on the opening lap that kept him in the pits for more than 15 minutes to repair the problem. Ashburn wasn't able to get back out in time to salvage any championship points, despite a hard fought effort to do so. Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KR4/FAR's Thad DuVall also experienced rear brake issues, where he spent valuable time in the pits as well. DuVall finished 24th overall, which doesn't allow for any points toward the championship.
The XC2 Pro Lites class is seeing some of the most intense action in the history of the class - Credit: Ken Hill
Raines Riding University/Atlas Yamaha/OffRoadViking.com's Ricky Russell made his return to racing for the first time since the season opener and despite a broken arm just a month before, the Washington native made an impressive jump to the center of the podium with the XC2 Pro Lites victory at Big Buck.

Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KR4/FAR's Nick Davis grabbed the $100 Hot Cams XC2 Pro Lites Holeshot Award to acquire the early lead on Sunday, followed by a highly competitive group of young racers close in tow.

Husqvarna support rider Craig Delong put himself into the second place position right away, with DirtWise/Maxxis/KLIM-backed Jason Thomas close behind. It was a multi-way battle for the top three positions all afternoon as RideMPS.com/AMSOIL/Honda's Layne Michael also interjected himself into the battle early on.

Ricky Russell was able to maintain a lead that wasn't attainable by the rest of the field, where he went on to capture his first win of the season at round four. After a back-and-forth battle with the XC2 rookie Craig Delong, Michael finished in the second place position and a hard-charging Trevor Bollinger made up substantial time to capture third place aboard his Moto-Tech KTM ride.

Two of the XC2's biggest competitors - Nick Davis and Jason Thomas - experienced issues that kept them outside of contention at the end of the race. Thomas finished 13th in the class, while Davis finished 19th.

The 2015 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series resumes April 25 and 26 with the Limestone 100 GNCC in Springville, Indiana. For more information on the series, visit www.gnccracing.com.
Kailub Russell earned the $250 All Balls Racing Holeshot where he was able to get an early lead on the group Photo: Ken Hill
XC1 Event Results:
Kailub Russell (KTM)
Josh Strang (HSQ)
Grant Baylor (YAM)
Chris Bach (HON)
Steward Baylor (KTM)
Ryan Sipes (HSQ)
Andrew Delong (HSQ)
Takeshi Koikeda (HON)
Chris Douglas (KTM)
Adam Bonneur (KTM)

*Overall National Championship Standings:
Kailub Russell (120)
Josh Strang (100)
Grant Baylor (65)
Thad DuVall (60)
Chris Bach (55)
Jordan Ashburn (44)
Jason Thomas (38)
Craig DeLong (36)
Ryan Sipes (36)
Trevor Bollinger (34)
XC2 Podium: (left) Layne Michael, Ricky Russell, (right) Trevor Bollinger Photo: Ken Hill
XC2 Event Results:
Ricky Russell (YAM)
Layne Michael (HON)
Trevor Bollinger (KTM)
Craig Delong (HSQ)
Scott Grills (YAM)
Austin Lee (YAM)
Callan May (YAM)
Ryder Lafferty (HSQ)
Cory Buttrick (BET)
Ryan Lojak (YAM)

XC2 Series Standings:
Jason Thomas (89)
Layne Michael (81)
Craig Delong (70)
Trevor Bollinger (65)
Nick Davis (57)
Cory Buttrick (55)
Ricky Russell (55)
Scott Grills (42)
Callan May (41)
Austin Lee (36)

Top Image: Kailub Russell extends his points lead and win-streak after four rounds of racing

Credit: Ken Hill

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