I did this interview while at a local track waiting for the AAA guys to arrive. Justin had locked his keys in his van and we chatted while we waited for them to show up. He wasn’t too upset about his predicament; Justin is pretty even-keeled that way. And his entire season has been one small disappointment after another, so this was pretty much par for the course for the young rider. But he is looking forward to 2009 and hopes that he can finally put his potential to work.
Justin Keeney: Over the summer all I’ve been doing is riding a 450 outdoors and staying on the bike. I’ve worked on my strength really hard and I’ve gained ten pounds since spring and that is really helping me on the bike. Hopefully all of that will pay off this supercross season.
Did you race any nationals?
No, I was going to go to Washougal but things didn’t worked out with a bike for that. I didn’t get to do any nationals but I did some local racing and I was riding with all the pros at the local tracks here all summer. Obviously I would rather be racing the nationals but I just tried to do what I could to improve during the summer.
You had a great opportunity with the new TLD/Red Bull/Honda team last year but your season never really got off the ground. What happened?
When I got that deal I was really excited. They have such a great program and I knew the bikes were going to be incredible because I rode them at the tryout. I was expecting to have a great season. I got on the bike and rode it for about a week and then crashed and punctured a lung and broke some ribs. I knocked myself out pretty bad in that crash and it definitely took a while for me to feel good again. I only had about three or four weeks on the bike before the opener and that showed in the mud at Anaheim. I struggled a bit and I just wasn’t riding that well. At the second Anaheim round I got landed on and broke a knuckle. That bothered me for a few rounds and before I knew it the season was over.
It’s difficult to build any confidence in yourself when things happen like that, isn’t it?
When you go into a season with only a few weeks on the bike it’s hard to think that you are ready and to actually believe it. I just couldn’t get any momentum going until it was too late.
What is the plan for next year?
Right now I’m trying to do something similar with Troy that we did last year. If it happens then I want to get on the supercross track as soon as I can and just get myself ready. I want to get all of my testing done early and be totally ready for the first round. I know what I need to do as far as training to be prepared so I just have to stay healthy and it should be good.
You had some impressive finishes in 2007 as a full privateer, right?
Yeah, that was a good series for me. It was my first supercross races and I just had time to get ready and I was healthy. I had a tenth and couple twelfths and I rode at the front a few times. I had three months to prepare for those and I went in healthy. I need to do that again this time. Hopefully I can get my deal done and get started soon.
I would like to try to. Maybe I could put a 450 together and go for it. It’s just really difficult to fund it. I’m hoping I can find a way on to a team that is going. We’ll see; that’s a long ways off right now.
You spent quite a bit of time riding with Goose, Gavin and the rest of the Honda guys. What did you learn from them?
I learned a lot. I tried to take a little bit from each of their programs and shape it into something that works for me. It’s cool to be able to watch those guys go through a section that I’m having trouble with and figure it out. That makes it easier. Also, when you see them doing something it makes it easier to do it yourself.
Does Goat Breker still help you out a lot?
I still talk to him all the time but he’s living in the mountains up north now.
Who helps you out?
Troy Lee Designs, Red Bull, Honda, Oakley, Alpinestars, Pro Circuit, Dunlop, Renthal and all of the TLD team sponsors.