Josh Strang Wins Pirelli Big Buck GNCC

April 12, 2010 9:35am

Strang Claims Fourth Win At Pirelli Big Buck GNCC

DuVall and Whibley round out the podium.

Union, S.C. (April 11, 2010) -- Josh Strang has had plenty of practice popping the cork on a champagne bottle. And he's getting quite accustomed to giving podium speeches. In the four rounds of the 2010 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series held so far, the FMF Makita Suzuki rider has stood on the middle step of the podium in each case and he's given no indication that the rest of the season won't be any different. Strang's latest conquest came at the Pirelli Big Buck GNCC in Union, South Carolina, giving him four-straight wins and a healthy lead in the point standings.

"Four in a row is awesome! I'm super happy with that," said Strang. "This was a tough one, and it was a little stressful during the first lap, because of the dust."

Strang started outside of the top five when the three-hour race got underway, and dusty conditions made it difficult for passing. However, once he got back into the trees where the dust wasn't as bad Strang was able to make several passes, moving his way into second place by the end of the second lap. At that point, first place was held by Am Pro Yamaha's Thad DuVall, who had taken advantage of a bottleneck to move into the lead. And Strang didn't take long to pass DuVall, doing so in a dusty section near the halfway point of the race. From there, the rest of the race was somewhat routine for the transplanted Aussie, as he finished the race with over 20 seconds to spare over DuVall.

"The conditions were definitely difficult today, but I just raced my own race," said Strang, who was making his first ride on the 2010 RM-Z450. "I just kept going and made some passes, and then when I got in the lead I was able to push a little harder to make sure I stayed there."

DuVall held on for the runner-up spot - his first podium finish of the year.

"Cory Buttrick crashed on the first lap and it held everyone up and I was able to take advantage of that and get to the front," said DuVall. "Once I got in the lead I knew that Josh would be coming and I just backed off a bit and let him catch me. I thought I could ride with him but I just made a little mistake coming into the barrels and he got away. I caught him on the last lap but he kicked up a rock and knocked the lens out of my goggles and that was it."

Defending series champ Paul Whibley was in the hunt early, as well, and he claimed the $250 Holeshot Award to start the race. However, the Am Pro Yamaha rider fell in a mud hole on the first lap and lost ground to DuVall and Strang, and early leader Jimmy Jarrett, on the GEICO/JG Off Road/ Monster Energy Kawasaki.

"Josh and Thad were riding great today, I just couldn't match them," said Whibley. "It's good to be on the podium, but I'm not pleased with how things went."

Whibley spent the last two laps holding off Obermeyer Yamaha's Charlie Mullins, who ended up settling for fourth.

Husqvarna's Glenn Kearney turned in his best ride of the year with a fifth, and at one time he ran as high as third. Buttrick recovered from his first-lap crash to finish sixth on his FRE/KTM. Meanwhile, Am Pro Yamaha's Barry Hawk Jr. finished seventh ahead of KTM riders Chris Bach and Nate Kanney. Kawasaki-mounted Eric Bailey was 10th.

In the XC2 division, FRE KTM's Kailub Russell took his third-straight win of the series, after battling early on with round-one winner Jason Thomas. Russell got stronger as the day went on, however, while Thomas faded.

"I got a good start and caught up to the XC1 guys and we got to this section where everyone was going about two miles per hour and then Thomas caught up to me," said Russell. "That took me by surprise and he got around me. But I found a good line and passed him back and I rode pretty good the rest of the day."

KTM rider Jesse Robinson overcame a couple of crashes and a long pit stop to finish second.

"I tried to ride hard at the beginning but I just couldn't get comfortable, so I just backed off a bit and ended up going faster," said Robinson.

Steward Baylor Jr. completed a KTM sweep of the XC2 podium by finishing third. He also made history by becoming the youngest rider to make an XC2 podium - doing so at the age of 15.

"It feels awesome to get on the podium," said Baylor. "But for some reason, I just can't stay off the ground on the first lap and I was coming from behind all day."

Baylor snatched the final step of the podium from Thomas on the final lap, leaving Thomas to settle for fourth on his Andrews Cycles Yamaha. Meanwhile, GEICO/JG Off Road/ Monster Energy Kawasaki's Scotty Watkins rounded out the top five.

Yamaha rider Ryan Belue won the Four-stroke A Lites class and in the process claimed the Overall Amateur Award, his first time to ever do so. Jordan Ashburn was turning some extremely fast laps and was in contention for the Overall Amateur Award, but was slowed when he fried his brakes. However, he still ended up winning the Open A division.

In the morning race, Tyler MacDonald, who rides under the Am Pro Yamaha tent, took the win in the Sportsman A race, topping Yamaha-mounted Matthew Nix and FMF Makita Suzuki's Rodney Smith.

"I got the holeshot but I crashed in the second corner," said MacDonald. "I caught back up with Matthew and we battled and caught up with Rodney. We ended up passing him with two laps to go."

Smith led the early laps, but reinjured the thumb he dislocated a few weeks ago and dropped off the pace.

The Can-Am Grand National Cross Series will return in 2 weeks for the Acerbis Loretta Lynn's GNCC, held in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee on April 24-25.

XC1 Results:

1. Josh Strang (Suz)

2. Thad DuVall (Yam)

3. Paul Whibley (Yam)

4. Charlie Mullins (Yam)

5. Glenn Kearney (Hsq)

6. Cory Buttrick (KTM)

7. Barry Hawk Jr. (Yam)

8. Chris Bach (KTM)

9. Nate Kanney (KTM)

10. Eric Bailey (Kaw).

XC1 Standings:

1. Josh Strang (120/4 wins)

2. Charlie Mullins (78)

3. Paul Whibley (75)

4. Chris Bach (73)

5. Cory Buttrick (68)

6. Glenn Kearney (55)

7. Thad DuVall (50)

8. Nate Kanney (46)

9. Barry Hawk Jr. (44)

10. Kenneth Gilbert (44)

XC2 Results:

1. Kailub Russell (KTM)

2. Jesse Robinson (KTM)

3. Steward Baylor Jr. (KTM)

4. Jason Thomas (Yam)

5. Scott Watkins (Kaw)

6. David Snyder (Yam)

7. Dustin Gibson (KTM)

8. Jason Greer (Yam)

9. Mark Fortner (Hsq)

10. Brain Lawson (Yam)

XC2 Standings:

1. Kailub Russell (111/3 wins)

2. Jason Thomas (98/1 win)

3. Jesse Robinson (87)

4. Steward Baylor Jr. (71)

5. Scott Watkins (65)

6. Dustin Gibson (60)

7. David Snyder (44)

8. Mark Fortner (37)

9. Josh Weisenfels (37)

10. Nicholas Hunter (34)

About GNCC Racing:

The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series is America's premier off-road racing series. Founded in 1979, the 13-round championship is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The grueling three-hour GNCC races lead as many as 1,800 riders through tracks ranging in length from eight to 12 miles, competing for more than $3 million in prizes. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. For more information, please visit