GNCC Racing

FMF KTM's Kailub Russell Earns 66th Career Victory at The John Penton GNCC

Monday, June 29, 2020 | 12:05 PM


MILLFIELD, Ohio – FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell raced his way to a 66th-career XC1 Open Pro victory on Sunday in Millfield, Ohio as his local family and friends enjoyed a top-performance by the seven-time GNCC Champion at the historic John Penton GNCC.

While the Ohio native hasn’t lived there since childhood, Sunday Creek Raceway, also known as the “Russell Family Farm,” has continued to be somewhat of a home track for Kailub throughout his career. Having won there last in 2016, the North Carolina resident was determined to come away on top in what would serve as his last pro performance at the family farm as he announced that 2020 will be his final season of professional racing. 

PC: Shan Moore
PC: Shan Moore

XC1 Open Pro
As the green flag waived, it was Russell who powered his KTM 350 XC-F off the line to capture the XC1 holeshot as he led the class into the woods. He made a mistake in the “John Penton section” on the opening lap and went down, which allowed his teammate Ben Kelley to get by for the lead. Russell patiently worked his way back into the lead by lap two and from there, he maintained a comfortable gap over the rest of the field. He was able to break away on the sixth and final lap to ultimately claim victory by just under one-minute.

Kailub Russell: “It’s awesome to get the win in front of family and friends cheering me on at the family farm. I felt really good, so I put the hammer down and tried to gap those guys. Knowing this was the last time cruising around for a win here at the professional level, I definitely was able to soak it in for a minute. I had a nice little lead and I was able to cruise it on in and enjoy the last mile or so.”

With six rounds remaining, Russell holds a 33-point lead in the XC1 Open Pro Championship, where he continues to fight for an eighth-consecutive title.

Ben Kelley got off to a great start in the XC1 Open Pro class as he battled Russell for the early lead. After settling into second, Kelley was able to overtake the lead when Russell went down on the opening lap and he led for the remainder of the lap until Russell got past on lap two. Kelley battled for a podium position early on but he dropped back toward the end and wasn’t able to make up the time, ultimately finishing fourth on the day.

Ben Kelley: “After Kailub passed me back for the lead, I found myself in a battle for second until I lost their draft and started to tire the last two laps. It was a long, hot race on a rutted and technical track. I still have some work to do to get back to race form and be able to run the speed up front for three hours but overall, I’m feeling pretty happy with fourth place on the day.”

PC: Shan Moore
PC: Shan Moore

Josh Toth didn’t get the best start as he rounded the opening lap in the eighth-place position in the XC1 Open Pro class. He quickly worked his way up to sixth by the second lap and he put on a big charge to bring himself within striking distance of a top-five position. On lap five, Toth went down in a slick spot and lost substantial time, ultimately finished sixth for the day. 

XC2 250 Pro
In the XC2 250 Pro class, Tely Energy Racing/KTM’s Jonathan Girroir earned his fifth podium finish of the season with a consistent ride all afternoon. He got off to a fifth-place start and he maintained a top-five position throughout all six laps of the race. With three laps to go, Girroir moved into third and from there he finished strong with a third-place podium.

PC: Shan Moore
PC: Shan Moore

KTM Youth Day
In its 16th year at the John Penton GNCC, KTM Youth Day celebrates the future of offroad racing by offering a special weekend of activities centered around youth racing, as a salute to Mr. John Penton. Participating youth riders received a commemorative t-shirt featuring Kailub Russell and his son, and KTM staff were on hand throughout the weekend to cheer on youth riders from the trackside, as well as give out finisher medals at the Micro and Youth Bike finish lines. 

Next Race: Round 8 – Hoosier GNCC – July 12, 2020

For more information on the GNCC schedule, please visit

XC1 Open Pro Results – John Penton GNCC

1. Kailub Russell, KTM, 03:12:50.419
2. Josh Strang, KAW, +58.637
3. Grant Baylor, SHR, +01:03.278
4. Ben Kelley, KTM
6. Josh Toth, KTM

Overall Championship Standings
1. Kailub Russell, 205 points (6 wins)
2. Josh Strang, 172 (1 win)
3. Jordan Ashburn, 111

XC2 250 Pro Results – John Penton GNCC
1. Craig DeLong, HQV
2. Cody Barnes, BET
3. Jonathan Girroir, KTM

XC2 250 Pro Championship Standings
1. Craig DeLong, 178 (3 wins)
2. Michael Witkowski, 170 points (2 wins)
3. Jonathan Girroir, 164 (2 wins)