5 Minutes With ... Jason Lawrence

Old School style, Jason Lawrence sat on the rear bumper of a non-descript white box van that was shoehorned in amongst an echelon of electric green and black Monster Energy vehicles. Dressed in his racing gear, he watched in silence as his mechanics put the finishing touches on his bright-blue #338 Yamaha of Troy YZ250F. Practice for the inaugural ESPN Moto X World Championship Moto X Race was set for 5 p.m. and it was already nearing 5:30. In good spirits, but getting a bit impatient, Lawrence asked for the time.
    While virtually the entire Monster Energy/AMA Supercross Championship fraternity was back inside Ford Field in Detroit for Round 14 of the series, Lawrence, still on break from holding a six-point lead in the 2008 AMA West Region Lites title chase, was in the baking hot pit area of Qualcomm Stadium preparing to make a run at winning Sunday’s Moto X main event set for this afternoon in San Diego. Excited and eager to be back racing — this will be J-Law’s final race before attempting to clinch the AMA West title in Seattle’s Qwest Filed on April 26 — the kid from New Jersey was ready to hop up on his bike and blow the cobwebs out.

Racer X: Jason, what do you think about what you’ve seen here today?
Jason Lawrence: I watched a little bit of the Best Trick from the stands and then I came back and I’ve just been watching the rest of it from my motorhome. It looks cool. There aren’t that many people in the stands, though. Not at all. But I guess it’s a made-for-TV sport. I don’t know. All the big names are here like Nate Adams and Carmichael and stuff and that’s just making it cooler.

Did you watch the Step Up?

I thought that was crazy how high Carmichael goes. I mean he goes really high, but he still doesn’t clear the bar by much. His front tire almost gets it — you see that in the replays. I mean he doesn’t have it in the bag. I think it’ll still be pretty good.

What did you think of the new Speed and Style event?

Yeah, I was bummed on the Speed and Style. Twitch [Jeremy Stenberg] had it locked up to go in there with Nate [Adams] and he crashed, so that wasn’t as cool as I thought it was going to be because I was expecting to see my two buddies go for it. It was still a really cool idea for the sport. 

Most everybody you know is back racing the Monster Energy/AMA Supercross round in Detroit. Do you like the idea of having a supercross here this Sunday?

Yeah, I think it’s cool. I came here for Monster, mainly. I’m just going to try and get the win, you know?

What do you think of the supercross track here itself?

I actually rode here on Wednesday. The track is good. It’s got a lot of rhythm. It’s kind of tight and it’s not going to be the easiest track to pass on, but it’s going to be exciting watching people pass or get passed or whatever it is.

Can you win this thing? Are you going for the win?

Yeah, I can win it for sure. I’m not sure how the gate pick goes, but I need to get a good gate because I’m going to be one of the only guys on a 250F. I’m going to need a good start and be aggressive the first couple of laps. It’s going to be hectic. It’s going to be a lot harder to win than say a regular 15-lap race against other 250Fs, but it’s definitely not impossible.

The AMA West Region Series that you compete in has been off since Houston on February 16. During the break, did you watch your championship rival Ryan Dungey compete on the 450F at rounds nine, 10 and 11?
Yeah, I saw that. I mean, of course I watch all the races. I saw him and he was doing good. I mean, that’s cool that he’s getting some more time on the bike. That’s something I would have liked to do, but our team is a 250F team and we’re not in a position to build a 450 that’s ready to go race at a supercross on short notice. So we just stayed home and I did more outdoor time. I’m assuming Dungey has had to be riding supercross this whole time seeing how good he’s done on the 450, so hopefully he won’t be that prepared for the outdoors.

That last round of the West Region is at Seattle on April 26. That’s well over two months between races. Has the break been too long for you?

The break is not cool, but that’s all right. I stalled my bike at Anaheim II [where he placed 21st] so I put myself in the position to have to wait it out to se if I can win the championship. I’ve been kind of trying not to think about it and it’s been working. I’ve just been focusing on the outdoors and trying to get better at that and now it kind of seem like the final round is coming too fast now, almost. It’s rushing right up on me.

Would winning that title mean the world to you?

Yeah, for sure. It would be good. But it’s still only six points and I still have to go get a third if Dungey wins that race. That is not going to be easy to do if it’s muddy. It’ll be a lot easier if it’s good conditions, but you rarely see that in Seattle. I like the mud, but in the mud the chances of making a mistake are a lot higher. The chances of me being off the podium on a dry track aren’t that good and I’m sure Dungey knows that, so I’m sure he’s hoping for some mud. Oh, and by the way, another little fact: I’ve never been off the podium at Seattle. So, I’m looking to keep that going!

You’ll be lined up with riders such as Gavin Gracyk, Broc Hepler, Travis Pastrana and Heath Voss tomorrow afternoon. Who do you see having to fight the hardest to win this thing?

They’re good riders and I’m not really sure. Like I said, I’m on a 250F and it’ll be a short, hectic race, so I’ll just have to wait and see.

The 2008 AMA National Motocross Championship is rapidly approaching and set to begin on Sunday, May 25 at Glen Helen in San Bernardino, California. It’ll be a local race for you. With all the time you’ve put in on your outdoor bike, do you feel good about it?

Yeah, for sure. We’re ready. We got our bike good. It’s fast and the suspension is good. So just like supercross, it’s just going to be all on me. My bike is already ready.