Monday Conversation II: Ryan Dungey

January 11, 2009 5:00am | by:
Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey was the center of quite a bit of controversy in the last week, with his leaving One Industries and joining Fox Racing, and his reason for such a switch. However, it’s obvious that it didn’t distract him much, as he went out and won the Lites class at the Phoenix supercross, taking over the points lead in the process.

  • Although he plays it down in the interview, his switch to Fox for Phoenix carried some baggage along with it.
Racer X: That was a big race win, considering the problems you went through last week – the mechanical problem and crash in the Heat race, the trip to the LCQ, etc. – so talk about the main-event win first.
Ryan Dungey: Last week, I just had a couple unfortunate deals with not making it into the main from the Heat and having to go to the LCQ. It kind of changed things up a bit, but in the end, the main’s what counts, and I was happy to see at times like Anaheim I, where we were tearing apart the bike and things like that, you really find out how strong a team is and how well they work together, and I’m proud to say we have great people behind us – my mechanic, Mark, Ian, Ray, Roger, the whole team... We worked as one and kept calm, and shoot, we didn’t get the win, but we came out on the podium and put ourselves in a good spot. So, for all that happened that night, I think it wasn’t too shabby.

Certainly, it’s too early to count points, but now you’ve got three guys within three points at the front of the field, and obviously Jason Lawrence and Trey Canard both missed the main event. Do these things mean anything to you at this point?

Not really. It definitely is great. It’s good for the mind to know you’re in the lead, but shoot, there are six races left, and we’ve got to take it one race at a time. Points are valuable, and I’ve learned that in the last few years, and we all make mistakes, and shoot, I’ve made the same mistake twice, so it’s down to the person who can make the least. At the end of the day, I know what I’ve got to do at the races and during the week, so we’re not going to let this go down without a fight. It’s going to be tough, but that’s what I’ve prepared for, and I’m ready.

I know you’re not out there racing one guy in particular, but I also know there’s no love lost between you and Jason Lawrence, and when you got the news that he didn’t make the main event, did it make you happy? Or did it even matter to you?
I heard the news, and I couldn’t believe it, but at the same time, there was still a race to race. Unfortunately, that happened for him, but Lawrence wasn’t the guy leading the points – it was [Jake] Weimer. Yeah, Lawrence was a threat, but shoot, I knew going up to the gate that it was a time that I could make up some valuable points. I’m happy I gained some points, but at the same time, it’s still early. We can’t be celebrating just yet. All I can do is put my head down and keep going. I did think about it, though, and I was like, “If this is what it is, then it’s times like these where I’ve got to take advantage of it,” and I feel like that’s what I did tonight. I put the hammer down and made it happen.

Weimer was fast all night, winning his Heat race, and then leading you early in the race. What was going through your head when you were chasing him? Did you feel like you could gain on him when you needed to? Or were you more or less at your limit behind him and hoping for a mistake?
He did get the holeshot on me, and the track was tough – it was hard to make up time. In the main, it was pretty smooth, and the whoops were the only really tough part. Shoot, we were pretty much the same, but I knew it was still pretty early in the race, and I knew we had a lot of laps left. I was starting to think if it got much later that I might have to step it up a little more, but what happened, happened, and he rode a good race. I’m just glad I got by safe, and then I just rode my own race once I got out front.

  • Ryan Dungey celebrates over the finish line. He's now in the points lead, although he has two Pro Circuit riders within three points of him.
With your exit from the One Industries stable, and now taking on Fox as your primary gear sponsor, there have been people both in support of your position, and detractors as well. Can you talk a little bit about what went into the decision to switch sponsors?
I’ll say that, with the whole gear thing, it was really an unfortunate deal. It was a tough business decision, and I’m not out there to hurt people’s feelings or anything like that. I mean, I’d take the shirt off my back for anybody every day. I would do anything for people. But there comes a point where it comes down to a business decision, and moving forward, I’m just really happy with Fox. The gear is great, and the people are awesome, with Pete, Beeker, Warren... I’m just really happy and stoked to be a part of the team, and it’s been a long time coming. I remember I had a pink pair of Fox pants when I was an amateur, and it was just something that stuck. Until I put on the gear, I didn’t realize how much I really enjoy riding with Fox. It was cool, but at the same time, at the end of the day, it’s up to me to step up to the plate and race, and I’m just happy that everything sorted out so that I could be a part of Fox.

Correct me if I’m right or wrong, but when you were with One at the beginning of the year, the plan seemed to be that they were building an entire gear company around your image. Did you feel like you lost that when they signed Lawrence? And with Ricky Carmichael retiring and James Stewart switching from Fox to Answer this year, did you feel like you could get that back with Fox?
Yeah, I mean, so far, Fox has taken care of me, and I can’t thank them enough. They’ve got other riders, too, that they need to take care of, like Ivan [Tedesco] and the whole Factory Connection team. It’s not just me. But, at the end of the day, they’re going to make their people more than satisfied, and they supply the gear and a bunch of great stuff along with it. That’s something money can’t buy.

So, moving forward, what are your goals? Is it just to stay up front? Or, at every round, is it your goal to win?

I think the long-term goal for the supercross season is to win the championship, but going to each and every race, I’m going to take it one race at a time. How should I put it? To win every race from here on out is the goal. I really don’t feel like that’s out there or unrealistic at all. I’m not being cocky or anything, I’m just confident in what I can do, and I know what I can do, but it’s going to take a lot of heart and a lot of strength. But like I said to a couple of other people, I’m in for the long-haul, and it’s only the beginning of my career, and I’m having a really good time. I’ve learned what to put first in my life and how to control it. But it’s only my third year, and only time will tell. Sometimes, I get emotional, but it’s because I really love this sport, and I do it from the heart, and I can’t say how much I love it. I’ll end it right there.