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5 Minutes with... Josh Grant

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As we’re all quite aware of now, in one of the biggest shock upsets since Sebastien Tortelli stunned the Americans with a win at the ’98 Supercross opener, JGRMX/Toyota/Yamaha rookie Josh Grant won the opening round of the 2009 Monster Energy Supercross Series in Anaheim, California. The win was a long time coming for the Californian, his last major victory coming at the ’07 High Point National in the Lites class. Now a full-time 450F rider, things have started out right for Grant. A week removed from his amazing feat, we spoke with Josh as he was starting to pack his gear bag for the short trip across the SonoranDesert for round two, set for tomorrow night in Phoenix’s Chase Field. Upbeat and positive, Grant can’t wait to show the global motocross community that his win was no fluke and he is very much the real deal.

  • Josh was in perfect position when Stewart and Reed went down
Racer X: Josh, what are you up today? It sounds like you’ve been on something of a major media tour.

Josh Grant: Oh, dude, it’s just been going crazy, but if this comes with winning, I’ll take it any day!

From the moment you got out on of bed on Sunday morning, what’s you week been like?
It’s been great, you know? Having the feeling of winning the first round and just everyone calling and congratulating me and everything. It’s a good feeling and I’m just having a really positive week. I’m putting in the riding and doing a little bit of testing and doing a little bit of working out and maintaining what we’ve been doing for the last couple of months. I’m looking forward to everything from here on out.

Well, you couldn’t have won a bigger race at a better time, huh?
Yeah, it meant a lot, so I’m glad I was able to do it.

What were you thinking as the final laps began to click down? I know you’ve been asked about the Tuff Block wrapper a thousand times, but were you feeling it? I mean, did you know the win was yours?
Yeah, I kind of felt that about lap 12 or 13. I was like, Man, if I just keep riding the way I am right now, I’m good. So I just kept plugging away. Having that feeling of riding good, everything felt so easy that it was awesome.

You were very strong all day long. Just how prepared were you? Was everything just completely in order?
Yeah, it was. Everything was. We’ve been trying to get everything organized from day One when I switched teams. I figured, This is my shot and I’m going to give it everything I have. You know with all the work I’ve done with Gibbs and just being back there and training and getting ready, I came in prepared. I told myself, ‘Man, I can’t do it like I‘ve done in past year where I’m overtraining and working so super-hard to get to that first round.’ I mean, we have 17 races in this series, so I wanted to kind of race my way into the season and build fitness that way also. I just came in with the right timing and I was riding well and was just happy and pumped with the new team.

When did you exactly pull up stakes here in California and move to North Carolina?
I moved in October 1 and started that day. I stayed back there for a few months and just kind of got everything organized and started plugging along.

What was that like getting out of the mix here in California? What was it like getting out of the circus?
[Laughs] I’m from the circus, so I like being here. My family is here and everything, so it wasn’t too big a change. I like going back and hanging out on the East Coast, though, and kind of getting away from California. It’s a good place and it’s just been great back there.

  • It was an emotional win for Josh Grant
People seem to kind of forgotten that fact that you did one 450 race last April at
Seattle
Yeah, I raced Seattle last year for just one round, just to kind of try it out.

Did that race give you and sort of read on anything?
Yeah, a little bit. I only had a day on the 450 and it wasn’t really my set-up, it was K-Dub’s set-up, and I just kind of went for it. I used it as an experience thing to kind of keep me on my feet.

When you first landed at Gibbs in North Carolina, did you have a pretty good feeling about it the team right from the onset?
I had a good feeling before I even signed. I mean, even just flying there to test the bike and see what it was like I instantly had that gut feeling, This is going to be a good home if this is where I end up. And when it worked out. All around it was a food feeling. It took a couple weeks before we really got into a groove where I started riding a lot. Then a couple of weeks after that, we started testing. Then we just really hit it really hard from there on it.

With their team sports and football background, is the approach of the Gibbs team to motocross a little bit different?
I don’t think so. I think a lot of people got the wrong impression when a few people said, “Oh, it’s a football training thing.” It’s run like a race team. Jeremy [Albrecht] knows what he’s doing. Our training hasn’t been that much different from what I’ve normally done even in the past with other trainers. Really, it’s just a new team, a new atmosphere and just great people. It’s like a family, and I think that everyone in our circle gets along great. Ever since I’ve been back there, it just seems like everyone gets along. It seems like our circle is very tight and everyone has got each others’ backs and we’re all there for each other and there to help each other out.

What were your emotions like, as well as the team’s emotions like, when you won last Saturday night? Had you ever experienced anything like that before?
No, I have not. For me, I was super-excited to get the race win. How it felt for me was just unreal. To realize how much it meant to the team and knowing how much hard work they had put in during the past few years — even when I wasn’t on the team — to know how much they’ve done and what they’ve accomplished at the shop and everything that they’ve done, for me to go out and get a race win and have them have that feeling and share that moment with me meant almost as much as me winning the race. It was awesome.
I always dreamed of even winning Anaheim and I won it on a 450. I think in front of that many people and it being the first round, there were a lot of expectations and nerves involved to just get it out of the way. It also pretty much killed my curse of my first round of a new series never going good! It was always something when I was on the East Coast and going for championships, I always had a DNF or a crash in practice. There were times when I didn’t even finish the first round. For me, I just killed all of that at Anaheim.

How do you like being on the 450 full-time?
Since a couple of years ago when I was getting a little closer to being out of the Lites class, I knew how well I rode a 450 and I was just super-pumped to be on it full-time. I was ready to go. I really like riding the bigger bike. It suits my style. I like the finesses of the throttle control and being able to jump big stuff because you have the power to do it. It’s more my cup of tea. For me, I like being where I’m at.

  • Josh Grant takes it all in with his father and Jeremy Albrecht
I went to see Ryan Villopoto after the race and I think he really would have loved to have been the rookie rider to win
Anaheim I…
Yeah, I’m sure he would have, but you know it just shows I rode well that night and I had one-up on him!

We’re heading into Phoenix now. Do you have more of the same in you?
Yeah, I still want to stay in the top five and be there every weekend. I don’t want to get over my head and say, “I’m going to win every race.” That’s impossible. I just want to stay consistent and be up front with those guys and running at that pace and I should be good.

After the race, Coy Gibbs told me it didn’t take him long to realize that you take racing very seriously. Would you agree?
Yeah, you know it’s also a job and it’s my life. It’s the life that I want to live and I have to be serious. At the same time, I also want to go out and have fun, too. I do it in moderation to where I know my racing will always been number one.

{LINKS}Do you have another shot at the podium on Saturday night?
Oh, man. I’m going to give it everything that I’ve got. I want to keep my team pumped. I want to keep everyone excited. The more times that we can get up on that box and thank our sponsors — Toyota and Yamaha and JGR — a podium would be more than enough for me.

I guess you jus have to watch out for Tuff Blocks, huh?
Yeah, Tuff Block covers are my enemy.

Thanks for your time and good luck over in Phoenix. We’ll see you over there…
All right. Cool. Thanks, Eric.
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