MORGANTOWN, W. Va. - Only eight points separate Charlie Mullins and Kailub Russell in the National Championship standings as the 2013 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series heads to Snowshoe Mountain Resort for Round 9 of the 13-race series. This Sunday, June 30, Russell looks to make it three-in-a-row while Mullins and the rest of the talented XC1 field attempt to put an end to his recent win streak. In the XC2 Pro Lites Class, rookie Grant Baylor and defending champion Jason Thomas will go head-to-head for the number one spot this weekend at Snowshoe.
Set in the upscale ski village of West Virginia's largest ski resort, this weekend's Snowshoe GNCC promises to resurrect pieces of XC history with its live engine starts across the paved road located in the heart of Snowshoe's village. The in town starts pay homage to the Blackwater 100-the original GNCC-where groups of five racers take off in five second increments, making for a spectacular scene.
Because of the unique start and technical racecourse, the Snowshoe GNCC has been known to throw a twist in the race action. In fact, there hasn't been a repeat winner at this event since 2009 when David Knight captured his third consecutive Snowshoe victory. Only the toughest racers on the circuit can say they conquered the Snowshoe course, including last year's winner Rory Mead, who barely topped Russell in a three-hour battle to the finish. Josh Strang took the win in 2011, while Nate Kanney emerged victorious in 2010.
The live engine start on pavement is one of many unique things about the Snowshoe GNCC. Photo: Ken Hill
This year, Russell has momentum on his side heading into arguably the harshest race on the circuit as he's captured back-to-back wins at the last two rounds. Currently second place overall in the points, Russell has shown much consistency by finishing either first or second at every round except for one, in which he experienced mechanical issues. Similarly, Mullins has finished atop the podium every round except for one, where he also experienced mechanical issues. The Factory FMF/KTM duo has been incredibly difficult to beat this season but there's an onslaught of contenders close behind.
Carolina KTM/RidePG.com's Chris Bach currently holds third place overall in the standings with a consistent string of finishes. In fact, Bach is the only rider to finish inside the top 10 overall at every round this season. So far, Bach has put in career-best performances in the XC1 class, where he has proven to be a championship contender. Last round, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC's Josh Strang battled back and forth with Bach for a podium finish. Strang ultimately bested Bach for second when the Indiana native crashed and dropped to fifth place. However, the two will go head-to-head for the third place position in the point standings this weekend at Snowshoe.
Shenandoah Honda/USWE-Sports.com's Thad DuVall has experienced mechanical issues at the last two rounds, which has dropped the West Virginia native back to sixth place overall in the standings. DuVall captured his first win of the season at Round 5, where he will fight for his second win of the season in his home state on Sunday. Whibley sits tied in points with DuVall heading into Round 9 and the rough terrain of Snowshoe could lend a hand in moving the defending champion up the points ladder. It was previously reported that Whibley would receive surgery to repair an ongoing injury after the Snowshoe event.
In the XC2 Pro Lites division, KTM Support rider Grant Baylor maintains the points lead over DirtWise Schools/ KTM-Parts.com/ Maxxis Jason Thomas. The defending XC2 champion Thomas recently captured his first win of the season at the last round, giving him momentum heading into the weekend. As a third place overall finisher at the 2012 Snowshoe GNCC, it's clear that Thomas favors the rocky conditions and looks to secure two-in-a-row this weekend.
Snowshoe Mountain presents a picturesque backdrop for a GNCC event.
Photo: Ken HIll
F.A.R Husky's Andrew DeLong has missed the last two rounds due to injury but still remains third in the class standings. Round 5 winner Zach Nolan sits fourth in the standings, just ahead of Shane Hufford Jr.
Four-wheeled ATVs will compete throughout the day on Saturday, June 29 and dirt bikes will race on Sunday, June 30. 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.
Spectator passes run $15 for the full weekend, with pro pit access and pro autographs at no additional charge. Youth ATV racing will take place Saturday at 8 a.m., followed by amateurs, 4x4 and Women at 10 a.m. and the top amateurs and pros at 1 p.m. For more information on the series, visit 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 AMSOIL Snowshoe GNCC.