Racer X: After having the fall at round two, and coming out of round one with a fourth, what did it feel like to finally break through and get the win that you probably should’ve had last week, anyway? Austin Stroupe: I should’ve had it last weekend, but the first race was really kind of learning and stuff and getting back into the groove. It had been a while since I had raced, so there were just nerves and stuff. I think I had it in the bag easy, but I just stalled it. This weekend, I just rode smooth, and I really didn’t run my full pace, but it’s good to get a win and to try to cut the points lead down.
Just doing the math, if you win the rest of them – as you said was your goal last weekend after the race – and your teammate Christophe Pourcel is second at all of them, you two will finish the season tied in points...
Yeah, we need one race that might mix it up. Last year, it rained at Daytona. I don’t know, we need a tough track. We need somebody else to get in the mix, or somebody to get a bad start, or something. But I plan on winning the race, and that’s all I can do.
Both of the last two weeks, you’ve put on some pretty great displays of speed, but it looks pretty effortless, too. Can you talk a little bit about what kind of work you did in the off-season on your supercross stuff?
Yeah, I mean, once I got healed back up and stuff [from his injury during the nationals], we put in some hard work with my trainer Michael Johnson. I hired him full-time, and we just work hard, pretty much like a lot of the guys that are up front. We put in the motos and time, and it’s starting to pay off. I think in Atlanta, I showed a lot of speed, but this weekend, I wasn’t that fast. I still won, but there are different races where you can show different speeds, because this weekend, the track was hard to push on. We just train hard like everybody else.
Do you pay attention to what goes on in the 450cc class?
Yeah, I’ve been watching Stewart, and him showing his speed... With him falling twice, I think he was pushing really hard and showing his full speed. I watch those guys as much as I can. I watch James and Chad and try to look at what they do and think about doing it myself.
Looking at the new Lites eligibility rules for this year, you could be up in the 450cc class with them next year!
Yeah... I haven’t even been thinking about that, dude, but I guess it’s time to start treating this like a full-time job. It’s hard to think about preparing myself to run against him [James Stewart]. But we’ll just take it this year first before we think about next year. But I really don’t think that rule will stick. I mean, it’s kind of crazy to have that. I’m only 18...
Yeah, you and Nico Izzi would probably both end up getting bumped next year.
I think we all need three years.
That’s what Stewart got, what Villopoto got, what RC said he should’ve had, what McGrath got... Now what about that off-season you had? It was a collarbone that you hurt, right?
Well, I broke my collarbone in November, which knocked me out of the Lites West. I was supposed to run the west and I was really prepared to run the west, but that put me behind a month, which is why I’m racing the east. But I broke three ribs after Colorado, and I tried to heal back up, and I had a bunch of injuries, but it was the collarbone that cost me the west coast. That’s why I’m on the east.
You obviously believe you can win the rest of these races, so what will it take to actually do it?
I think my starts are good. I mean, I don’t think the next race will be as easy as this past one, and the more races I start to win, the harder Christophe will start to ride, and then we’ll start going different speeds than anybody else. I think this weekend’s going to be tough, but we’ll see who’s the smartest and who’s going to get the start. But if we both get out there, I guess we’ll just battle.
When you guys are battling out front, are there any team orders like to be careful and not take each other out?
I definitely wouldn’t take him out, but I’m sure it would get kind of crazy if we go into the last round and we’re tied or something. But until then, I’m clean with him.