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Monday Conversation: Davi Millsaps

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Honda Red Bull Racing’s Davi Millsaps had a tough start to the 2010 season, but the last two weekends have resulted in a third place in San Francisco, and then a win in San Diego last Saturday night. We talked to Millsaps after he finished bowling on Sunday night to find out how things had been going for him, and what has changed in the last couple of weeks.

Racer X: Hey, Davi, how’d you bowl?
Davi Millsaps: Uh, a 127?

That’s horrible. You’re a professional athlete!
Yes, I am, but I’m not a professional bowler. Bowling’s not a sport.

You’ve had speed all year but your main events have just come around in the last two races. What have you changed?
After Anaheim II, John [Louch, Millsaps’ trainer] and I were sitting down thinking about everything we were doing, including all the vitamins I was taking, and as we did more research on the vitamins I was taking, we found out there was Creatine in the vitamins I was taking. I was taking a heavy dosage of that for the last two months or so, and I stopped the Sunday after Anaheim II, and when I went to San Francisco, I felt so much better. I felt like I could charge the whole race. Then I went back home, did everything the same but without the Creatine, then went to San Diego and ended up winning. I feel like I’m on the right path now, and I’m not going to stop training hard just because I won a race. You’ve got to keep doing everything you’re doing and keep trying to move forward.

What is it about Creatine that’s bad for you?
It’s for body-builders, and what it does is it holds water and blood around your muscles so you pump up.

So, is that what was going on? Were you actually getting arm-pump?
Oh, like four laps into it!

And just cutting out the Creatine, your arm-pump just went away?
At San Fran, I didn’t get it until like lap 15, and I could still charge until then, and then at San Diego, I didn’t really get it at all. I just rode my own pace and made sure I breathed over every jump and things like that.

You got a good start and only had to pass a couple guys, but then you had Andrew Short and those guys breathing down your neck the whole main.
Yeah, I had to pass [Ivan] Tedesco and  Shorty, and I passed Tedesco over the triple, and then Shorty into that next turn after the triple. Then it took me almost three laps to pass [Nick] Wey. I felt like I had a good pace where I knew they weren’t catching me, but I wasn’t really pulling away from them. My goal wasn’t to be the fastest one out there, but to be the most consistent and not make too many mistakes. And I think I made one or two mistakes in the whole 20 laps. I let everyone else make them.

I was watching your line choices through the whoops on the one end of the stadium, and you were setting yourself up to double over those bumps in the middle, and it seemed really smooth. Was that the goal?
If I could ride with no mistakes and be out front, I knew I’d be all right, so that’s what I did.

Are you thinking about points at all, knowing that [Ryan] Dungey and those guys aren’t that far ahead now?
No, I’m just taking it one race at a time. Whatever’s meant to be is meant to be, and it’ll play out in the end. I just train every week like it’s all new on the weekend, and I’m going out there to win. I know what the points are and everything, but the more I think about that, the more things start bothering me, so I just concentrate on the races.

What about your team manager, Erik Kehoe? I would imagine he was pretty upset at the beginning of the season with your finishes, but I would also imagine he was pretty pumped after Saturday night.
He was happy after last weekend, actually. Even then he was pumped, but this weekend it just made it even better because there were a lot of top Honda guys there this week. But I’m just pumped to win for myself and everyone around me, including my team. It was a great feeling.

Tell me if I’m out of bounds here, but what does having your wife around right now do to help you with your racing?
We had a rough patch, and we’re working things out really good lately, and I think it’s 100 times better than it was in the beginning, so I’m pumped on it. Having her back at the races means a lot, and especially this weekend, so she could experience my first win of the year. It was really cool, and she was pumped to be there, too. It’s good. [Laughs] I’m trying to say good things because she’s standing right in front of me... I’m kidding. But the thing is, either way, whether she’s there or not, I’ve got to go out and do my job. Having her there is a bonus for sure.

The old cliché is that behind every great man is a great woman or something, right?
It’s “every good man is a great woman.”

Yeah, that sounds right.
Yeah, but behind every great woman is an awesome man! [Laughs] No, but it’s cool because she’s starting to get some work and that sort of stuff, and her coming to the races is definitely a pleasure.

I think people can identify with that stuff, but it’s interesting to know how it affects you as an athlete.
I don’t think it did anything to me as far as my racing was concerned. The problems there weren’t from this stuff, but we’ve figured a lot of it out now. But I don’t know, man, I haven’t ever been super mental or anything. I just try not to think about other things on race day and I just go out there and do what I have to do.

Last year, you guys struggled a little with setup on this bike, but now obviously it seems to be working fine, so what did you guys do?
Last year, we got a lot of insight into how the bike acts in every condition from mud to dry to tacky to slick to rutted.... Everything. You name the condition and last year we had it, and it was hard to dial it in on different tracks. So I sat down with Honda and we tried to figure out what we had to do get it done. We went to the test track and started working on it and it got better and better, and a couple weeks before Anaheim, I found a setting I was really pumped on, and I went to Anaheim and the bike was working all right, and it kept getting better every weekend. From last year to this year is a lot different. So we’ve gotten it sorted out, so now it’s just about learning how to ride it.

Was a lot of it adjustments to your style to adapt to the bike?
Not like a different riding style, but I had to react differently because the bike reacts differently. It’s good now, though. We even tested last week before the race and made it better, and that’s what I ran over the weekend and I was really pumped on it. Every time we test it either stays the same or gets better, so....

What do you want to do from here on out?
Every weekend from here on out, I just want to get good starts and do the best I can. I know if I get a good start, I can be up in the front. I just have to get up there, get good starts, be consistent, and that’s my goal. That’s what I want to do.
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