MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – The 2014 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series presented by Maxxis, an AMA National Championship, makes its return to the Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee this weekend, May 10 and 11, with the 33rd running of the Parts Unlimited Loretta Lynn’s GNCC.
As the oldest running GNCC on the circuit, this legendary venue has played host to some of the most exciting battles in the history of the series. Moreover, the varied terrain lends itself to a fast-paced course with loose rock and technical sections, serving up a little something for every type of rider. The last time the series made an appearance at Loretta Lynn’s was in 2012, where 2009 GNCC National Champion Paul Whibley secured the win en route to his second career title that same year.
As for this season, it’s been an all-out points battle between XC1 Pro championship contenders Charlie Mullins and Kailub Russell through the first five rounds. Mullins, the 2011 GNCC National Champion, is coming off a big win at the last round, where he defeated Russell’s previous three-race win streak to reclaim the points lead heading into the sixth round. With two victories behind him this season, Mullins-a two-time Loretta Lynn’s GNCC overall winner-will go head-to-head with his biggest challenger, and Factory FMF/KTM teammate, Kailub Russell this Sunday to determine who will hold the upper-hand as the 2014 National Championship chase nears the halfway point.
Unlike Mullins and Whibley, Russell has yet to secure an overall win at the Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. Russell heads into the sixth round with a heartbreaking finish on his mind from the previous round, where he experienced a big crash while in the lead. Russell was able to salvage a third place finish but it wasn’t enough to maintain the points lead he previously held over his teammate Mullins. The reigning champ will look to secure his first win at The Ranch in hopes to reclaim the points lead that slipped away at the last round.
Rocky Mountain ATV*MC/N-Fab AmPro Yamaha’s Josh Strang, who sits third in the championship standings, has experienced both victory and defeat in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. In 2009, Strang captured the overall win at the Loretta Lynn’s GNCC but the Australian native then sustained an unfortunate leg injury on the very same course in 2011. However, the 2010 GNCC National Champion has put himself within striking distance of the title contenders this season and will look to become the next multi-time winner at the Loretta Lynn’s GNCC this Sunday.
Hailing from Cookeville, Tennessee, N-Fab AmPro Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn will compete in front of his home-state crowd this weekend at Loretta Lynn’s. Still arguably in his XC1 Pro rookie transition, Ashburn has been a consistent front-runner this season, where he currently holds fourth overall in the championship standings amongst an impressive panel of GNCC Champions.
For example, Ashburn’s N-Fab AmPro Yamaha teammate and two-time GNCC champ Paul Whibley currently sits back in fifth overall in the championship standings, just two points behind Ashburn. While Whibley has experienced issues a few issues this season, there’s no doubt that the field of talent in this year’s XC1 Pro class is one of the most competitive in recent history.
Factory FMF/KTM’s Stu Baylor Jr. sits in sixth overall as he continues to recover from a nagging wrist injury. His younger brother, KTM Support rider Grant Baylor, currently sits in seventh in the overall standings and second place in the XC2 Pro Lites class.
Raines Riding University/Atlas Cycles’ Ricky Russell took over the points lead in the XC2 Pro Lites class after capturing his first career victory at the last round. Russell’s lead is a slim two-point margin over Baylor, while rookie Trevor Bollinger holds the third place spot in the class.
The WXC class continues to provide excellent racing action, with Factory FMF/KTM’s Kacy Martinez on top of the point standings after five rounds. N-Fab AmPro Yamaha’s Becca Sheets maintains a solid second place position, just ahead of Ohio’s Mandi Mastin in third.
Tune into RacerTV.com on Saturday at 2 p.m. EST / 1 p.m. CST to catch LIVE coverage of the Pro Bike race at Round 6. For more information on GNCC Live coverage, visit www.racertv.com.
The 2014 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Series resumes this weekend, May 10 and 11, with the Parts Unlimited Loretta Lynn’s GNCC. For more information on the series, visit www.gnccracing.com.