Monday Conversation II: Austin Stroupe

In only the third AMA National of his career, and obviously the first of the year, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Austin Stroupe has come away a winner, although it wasn’t easy. He went 2-3 for first overall, while second and third overall were his teammate Ryan Villopoto with a 5-1 and his West-Coast rival Jason Lawrence with a 1-5. That being said, he can’t rest on his laurels, as he is now the points leader by default in winning the first round, but holds a slim one-point advantage over both Villopoto and Lawrence going into round two at Hangtown.

Racer X: So, did you see your awesome wallpaper on the website last night before the race?
Austin Stroupe: No, I actually didn’t get a chance to. Mom took the laptop away, so I’ll check it when I get home.

Did you know for sure that the second-moto pass on your teammate Brett Metcalfe was what you needed to win the overall?
I followed Brett for a while, actually, because at first, [Trey] Canard and [Jason] Lawrence were actually catching me, and I was out of my groove because when I crashed [earlier in the moto, while leading] it kind of shook me up. But I just kind of maintained my focus and stayed behind Brett for a while and made the pass stick. Luckily, it was for the overall, but I had no clue. I was just thinking, “Second or third? That’s awesome.” But when I came off the track, they were like, “Hey, you won!” so I was really excited.

Did you expect this kind of success this early?

I came in here with a lot [of goals]. I want to win the title. I know it’s a lot, and it’s going to be a long season with Ryan [Villopoto], because he’s on the gas, and [Ryan] Dungey’s going to be strong, and Metcalfe’s going to be strong. Those guys that were up there, they’re going to be there the whole time, so I’ll just see how it goes. I know next weekend’s going to be rough, and heat’s probably going to play a factor, too.

When you were racing as an amateur, you were watching Villopoto win two-straight outdoor titles. Now, you’re racing out of the same truck as he is. How do you get over your likely admiration for him and start to believe that you can actually beat him?
When I was watching him win the title, that was awesome, because I was riding with him back then trying to get prepared for Loretta’s, and now I’m out here, but I think I have the speed. It’s pretty crazy. We stay pretty calm in the rig, and we don’t have any drama, so I keep it clean, and hopefully it’ll be like last year with Ben [Townley].

Two years ago, he won the title with number 51 on his bike...

Yeah, that’s crazy! [Laughs] I’ve gotten a lot of people calling me Ryan all year, but I love that number. I had it as an amateur, actually, so that’s why I chose it.

You raced here at the end of the season last year, but for the next few races, they’re tracks you’ve never raced. What’s that going to be like?
Yeah, Steel City was the first one that I raced last year, so we’ll see how that goes. It was a lot different, this one being the first one, and I think we’ll get back on our normal schedule going to Hangtown, and there will be a lot of hype about it, so we’ll get it going.