But Strang is consistently surprised by up-and-coming riders charging through the ranks to take on the Australian. First, he was surprised by rookie sensation Chris Bach, and now another rookie, FMF KTM's Cory Buttrick. Bach wowed onlookers with podium finishes at the first two rounds and a solid finish at North Carolina despite deteriorating conditions. In North Carolina, Buttrick stepped up to the challenge and tailed Strang throughout the ever-worsening track until the race was called and results reverted to the fifth lap.
Strang's typical list of challengers is ready to attack as well. Obermeyer Yamaha's Charlie Mullins showed an incredible amount of heart to appear on the podium twice already this season and Am-Pro Yamaha's Paul Whibley, who had a rough opening round, has also recovered his footing. With three weeks to work out further kinks in the WR450, the defending GNCC Champion, Whibley, will be racing for the top place on the podium at the South Carolina event.
Not to be left out of the mix is Husqvarna's Glenn Kearney, KTM's Homero Diaz and Nathan Kanney, Yamaha's Barry Hawk, GEICO Powersports Jimmy Jarrett, and Kawasaki mounted Kenneth Gilbert and Eric Bailey.
In the XC2 ranks, Kailub Russell and Jason Thomas have created a fantastic fight that has prospects of lasting the entire season. The two engage in a battle every round and this weekend should be no different with Privateer Jesse Robinson, FMF KTM's Steward Baylor and GEICO/JG Off Road/Monster Energy's Scotty Watkins thrown in the mix as well.
Spectator passes run $15 for the entire weekend, with access to the pro pit area included. Children six and under are admitted free. On both days, youth riders race at 8 a.m., beginner riders race at 10 a.m., and the top amateurs and the pros race at 1 p.m.
Local riders are invited to race the event, as GNCC racing offers classes for riders of all skill and experience levels. Riders can sign up at the track. Four-wheeled ATVs will race on Saturday and dirt bikes will race Sunday. The amateur racer entry fee is $40.
To get to the track, take I-26 to Exit 44, then to Highway 49 North 7 Miles and look for the signs.