Monday Conversation: Kevin Windham

Coming into the Houston Supercross, Torco Racing Fuels Honda’s Kevin Windham hadn’t won a supercross main event since the 2005 season-opening mud race at Anaheim I. Over three years later, Windham became the first rider to beat Chad Reed in a main event since James Stewart vacated the series before round three, proving that there’s still a lot of fight in the old dog yet.

Racer X: You designed the track, and then you go out there and win it...
Kevin Windham: You know what? Someone’s going to blame me for cheating or something. I’m waiting on an AMA protest or something. I’m autographing the track maps [in the Supercross Program]. Look, that’s mine. Track design by Kevin Windham. But I tell you what, it was a great day. Believe it or not, I’d love to have someone come look at my practice track right now, because I don’t have a section of that track on my track at home, and I was thinking when I got here, “Man, I screwed up. I should’ve built this track like my track at home – like every single jump.” But more than the track and the design, it was the friends and the fans here that were supporting me so loud and so strong. It was just awesome. It just felt good. I had a good vibe around me all day.

You actually drive to this race from home, right?
I do, yeah. It’s four hours from where I was born and raised, and like five hours from where I live now, so it’s as close to a home race as I get, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
I mean, earlier would’ve been better (laughs), but as far as location, it’s just been incredible. I’m living it up, man.

As upset as you seemed after your fifth-place finish last week, this is kind of a big change for one week, to go from the gutter to the penthouse like this.

I think that my fifth was as good of a ride as you could possibly ride and still get fifth, so I wasn’t that bummed about it. It’s just that when you get on the podium every weekend, all of a sudden, you’re like, “Man, I need to win some.” When you’re in fifth every weekend, you’re like, “Man, I need to get on the podium.” So, Chad’s probably a little bit upset tonight because he didn’t win, because he’s just used to it. I’ve been on the podium quite a bit, and I got the flat at A3 when I hit a rock and pinched my tube, and then in San Diego I kind of had one of those rides where I was in the back of a train of people all doing the same thing. I don’t think that I rode that bad – I still had fun with it, and I had fun with the night, but sometimes you have those nights. You’ve got to take the good with the bad, and tonight’s definitely the good.

What was it like late in the race, knowing that it was just really up to you to keep your lead and win the race?
Time slowed waaaaaayyyy doooowwwwnnn. It just seemed like the laptimes were like a minute 30. I came around like, “Man, didn’t I already do 12?” and then the next time it was like, “Dang, only 13?!” It just seemed like a long time. It was a tough race, because it would’ve been easy to let your mind wander, and I stayed focused. I went over a lot of things that Jeff Spencer’s been talking to me about, and I went through them in my head, and I kept myself calm and calculated. It felt good to actually inch away from him a little bit. When he was in second, I felt like I was inching away. I was aggressive with the lappers, and that’s something that typically, I don’t do.
When I got to the lappers early, Chad was in second, and I thought to myself, “Man, this is the pivotal point of the race. If I don’t get through these guys, that’s going to be his chance to tighten up.” He’s so strong getting through those guys, so I wanted to get through them quick, and it all ended up perfect.

So the added aggression with the lappers made all the difference in the end, huh?

Yeah, it made a huge difference. I mean, that was really the race for me. There were a lot of little steps, but when you’re racing guys like Chad, you can’t leave any little pieces of the puzzle out. There were some issues that could’ve changed things. You saw Davi [Millsaps] lost the front end, and I knew I was going to have to be cutting under some lappers to get through them, so it was a race where I couldn’t let my focus down, and I didn’t. I’m thankful for my team, Torco Racing Fuels Honda, and Planet Fitness, and Amsoil, No Fear Energy, and Jeff Spencer. All of those guys came together. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, and they all came together for this.

You haven’t won a supercross in three years, basically. There’s a saying where it’s said that it’s one thing to believe you can, and it’s another thing to know you can. After three years, it’s conceivable that you didn’t know you could anymore. Now that you definitely know you can, does that make a difference moving forward?
I think so. I hope so. I’ve been close a lot of times, and close just hasn’t cut it yet. Chad capitalizes on a lot of things in a race. Sometimes, he’s not the fastest guy going in, but if there’s a section that he’s not doing, he miraculously finds the power and the skill to do it. Tonight was one of those nights where I didn’t want to let anything go. I wanted to try everything and try to do it lap after lap after lap. I’ve kind of known I could, or at least thought I could, but it hadn’t happened yet. Now that it is here, I’d love to string a couple more together.
If I’ve got to wait another three years for my next win, it might not ever happen. You never know, and you’ve got to play it year by year. Right now, I just want to take tonight for what it is, and enjoy it, and keep the same program. I don’t feel like I’ve done anything different to win tonight than I did in San Diego to get fifth, so I’ve got to just stay focused on the little pieces, stay committed to the gameplan, and keep charging forward.

You’re still only the third-oldest guy out there...

Yeah, that means I still have a long way to go.
But it’s been a great run, and it’s been a great career, if it was to end today, so I’ll take this win, cherish it, and find me a nice spot for this trophy, and display it proudly.