Charlie Mullins (112) and Kailub Russell (557) are on fire this season leading into West Virginia.
The 2013 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series returns to Masontown, W. Va., this weekend, June 15 and 16, for the Parts Unlimited Mountaineer Run GNCC. Heading into Round 8, Charlie Mullins leads the overall national championship standings as he looks for his fifth win of the season, while XC2 Pro Lites points leader Grant Baylor attempts to capture his third consecutive win in his rookie season.
The well-known Marvin's Mountain Top venue has played host to plenty of off-road racing events in the past, but 2013 marks only the second year of the Mountaineer Run GNCC. Last year, it was reigning champion Paul Whibley who secured the overall win at the inaugural event but Factory FMF/KTM's Kailub Russell finished just behind the Axe Man. Whibley has a tendency to excel in the rough and rocky conditions, so perhaps the Mountaineer Run will be a breakthrough for the two-time champion this season.
Russell has momentum on his side this weekend as he's coming off a big win at the last round, marking his second of the season. As a previous resident of West Virginia, Russell will be racing in front of friends and family this weekend where he looks to close the gap on the points leader Mullins. Mullins experienced a mechanical issue at the 2012 Mountaineer Run, where he was towed back to his pits after Lap 2. This season, Mullins has finished atop the podium at every round except one and his consistency has put him ahead of the field after seven rounds of racing. This weekend, Mullins will make the switch from his usual KTM 450 to the KTM 350-the same bike his teammate Russell rides-in hopes of securing another win in West Virginia.
Russell and Mullins have dominated the first half of the season, but Shenandoah Honda/USWE-Sports.com's Thad DuVall has joined the Factory FMF/KTM
duo on the podium more times than not this season. After running in podium contention at the last round, DuVall experienced a mechanical issue that dropped him back to 15th overall by the end of the race. DuVall looks to bounce back in his home state of West Virginia on Sunday.
Carolina KTM/RidePG.com's Chris Bach sits a mere three points ahead of DuVall in the overall standings; following another top five finish at the last round. His third place standing reflects the consistency in finishes that Bach as put forth so far this season.
Paul Whibley won the inaugural Mountaineer Run in 2012. Can he do it again in 2013?
Former GNCC champion Josh Strang joins the defending champ Whibley in having an unusually inconsistent season in 2013. However, Strang and Whibley finished third and fourth place respectively at the last round, showing that both riders are back in the mix this season.
In the XC2 Pro Lites division, it's KTM Support rider Grant Baylor who holds the points lead after two straight victories in the class. Baylor's success comes at the same time that defending champion Jason Thomas and previous points leader Andrew DeLong are experiencing bad luck this season.
DirtWise Schools/ KTM-Parts.com/ Maxxis Jason Thomas is coming off a 17th place finish at the last round, where he suffered from a mechanical issue after the halfway point of the three-hour race. Thomas still holds second place in the overall standings with six rounds remaining this season.
F.A.R Husky's DeLong is reported to miss his second consecutive GNCC this season due to an injury. DeLong holds third place in the class standings, just ahead of Obermeyer Yamaha
/Raines Riding University/Offroadviking.com's Jed Haines in the fourth place position. Round 5 winner Zach Nolan holds fifth overall in the standings after another podium finish last round.
Four-wheeled ATVs will compete throughout the day on Saturday, June 15 and dirt bikes will race on Sunday, June 16. Local riders are invited to race the event as well, as GNCC racing offers classes for riders of all skill and experience levels. The amateur racer entry fee is $40 and riders can sign up at the track.
Grant Baylor has made a statement winning two in a row in the XC2 class, will he keep it up at the Mountaineer Run?
Spectator passes run $15 for the full weekend, with pro pit access and pro autographs at no additional charge. On both Saturday and Sunday, youth riders race at 8 a.m., amateurs race at 10 a.m., and top amateurs and pros race at 1 p.m. Round 4 of UTV competition will take place Saturday at 4:30 p.m. For more information, please visit the official series website at www.GNCCRacing.com
Tune into RacerTV.com on Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern to catch GNCC LIVE coverage of the Pro ATV race from the Parts Unlimited Mountaineer Run GNCC.
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