FMF Makita Suzuki's Josh Strang became the third different winner in the third round of the 2009 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series, the FMF Steele Creek GNCC, held on March 22 in Morganton, North Carolina.
After a three-hour battle Strang sailed into the finish line first to grab his win of the 2009 season. His teammate Charlie Mullins and GEICO/JG Racing Monster Kawasaki's Paul Whibley took second and third at Steele Creek, respectively.
"After Whibley and Mullins and Kearney passed me by I realized I needed to click it up a gear," Strang said of the early battle. "It was a little easy, but not too easy."
"I'm pretty happy with it," Mullins said of finishing second. "I wish I'd won it, but I'll take second today. I'll definitely be ready for the next race."
In the XC2 Lites class, Shock Doctor KTM's Kailub Russell came into the race carrying a two-race win streak, but a first-turn crash allowed his teammate Cory Buttrick to get out front, along with Kawasaki privateer Andrew Matusek. Russell recovered and was able to get into the lead on the second lap, but after he pitted, Buttrick was able to get back past him. The KTM teammates pressured each other for the rest of the race, with Buttrick coming out ahead to take his first win of the season. Russell took second with Matusek third.
"I saw Russell come up behind me fast and I thought it was going to be a hard three hours," Buttrick said. "I'm tired, but it's worth it. It feels good to get a win."