5 Minutes With... Blake Wharton

February 26, 2009 4:29pm | by:
The younger of the Wharton Brothers, Blake Wharton is a supercross rookie riding for the GEICO Powersports Honda team. This past weekend in Atlanta, he nearly turned a mediocre start into a podium finish, passing such veterans as Branden Jesseman and Martin Davalos along the way (although he eventually lost third back to Davalos). The future is bright for Wharton, and we talked to him after his second-ever Lites main event.

Racer X: That was a heck of a ride for a rookie. You didn’t get a great start – probably ninth or something – but you slowly started working your way forward.
Blake Wharton: I was in eighth for eight laps...

Yeah, and normally you’re a guy that gets a good start and just runs up front.
Yeah, usually I can get those good starts, but tonight wasn’t a good start night for me. You can’t get every holeshot, right? So you’ve got to learn how to do both. I felt like I was smart in the race. I wasn’t rushing things, and I waited until the time was right, and I started passing them. I ended up being in third, and I just made a silly mistake and lost it back [to Martin Davalos] and got fourth. I’m happy with how I rode, though, because I was ninth and I caught all the way up and passed guys. That shows me a lot right there, that my speed’s there, and my endurance is there, so if I can just fill in the middle part and get a good start, the racing will be a lot easier. So we’ll see how next week goes.

And it didn’t look easy coming through the pack, either. I saw when you were passing Branden Jesseman that you got caught up and had to double the triple behind him one lap, and things like that...
Yeah, I tried going to the inside and taking a different line, but then he held his line, and it didn’t work for me that lap. But it’s better that than trying the triple and crashing your brains out. It’s tough in supercross because you want to pass, and when you do pass, you have to get aggressive, but you also have to keep in mind what’s dumb and what’s not, so there’s a fine line there. Tonight, I did good on that. If I just keep it up, stay consistent, and stay off the ground, I’ll hopefully be top-three here before long.

When you lost third on the last lap, it was in the same area, and it seemed like you almost had to go to the outside – or at least drift to the outside – to do that triple consistently.
Yeah, it was a pretty tough triple.

But it seemed like if you went to the inside, then you might not have been able to jump it anyway, and he could’ve gone to the outside and jumped over you.
Yeah, maybe, but the truth of the matter is that I could’ve stuck to my normal line and I could’ve made it, and it would’ve been fine. But I switched up on the last two laps because I had a lapper, and then on the last lap I just stuck with it, and it wasn’t the best thing to do. The best thing to do would’ve been to stick to my line and hug the inside because it was so close to the end of the race. But that’s just something you’ve got to live and learn.

Yeah, it was your second-ever supercross.
It was my second supercross, and I’d like to think that I could’ve filtered that mistake out, but the truth of the matter is that it happened and I’m going to have to live with it for another week. I’m still in the top five, though, so my plan is just to improve every week.

That would mean in three weeks you would have a win...
That would be nice! But just to stay in the top five or top three would be great, and I definitely need to improve my starts. That was something else. It wasn’t that bad from the outside, but that gate was funny anyways. There was a hole after the gate.

You’ve basically never been to any of these venues for supercross, so what’s that like showing up at a place you’ve never been to and getting ready to race on a track you’ve never seen?
It can be hard. The hardest part for this race was that we drove around for three hours looking for a restaurant yesterday. We got off the plane and we were looking for an Outback [Steakhouse] and it took us forever. We’d never been to this town.

Time to invest in a GPS!
We had two of them! Imagine that. We had two and we couldn’t find anything. Hopefully, next week we’ll get off the airplane and just go straight to the restaurant instead of waiting a couple of hours. That was ridiculous. It took forever.