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5 Minutes with... Josh Hill

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San Manuel Yamaha’s Josh Hill is tied atop the points standings as the series heads east out of Anaheim. If you say you thought that was going to happen before the season started, you’re full of it. But Hill is going fast, and he’s being very consistent. We talked to him last night to get his take on the season so far.

Racer X: Hey, what are you doing?
Josh Hill: I just got back from having dinner at Phil Lawrence’s house, so that was pretty cool.

I’m sure he’s saying, “I just had Josh Hill over for dinner, so that was pretty cool.”
No way! He’s Factory Phil, dude.

That’s pretty funny. That’s probably the funniest thing about you, which is that all racers have ego, because you have to believe you’re better than the people you’re racing against if you’re going to beat them, but you don’t have ego like that...
I mean, I feel like I’m better than the guys I race against, but I still don’t feel like I’m as cool as Factory Phil Lawrence, or Jimmy Button, or Larry Brooks, or Jeremy McGrath, or Jeff Emig; those guys. I could go on for days...

You’re lucky none of those guys are racing anymore because you may not be able to beat them...
Yeah, those guys would be in my head (laughs).

You’d come up on Button, and you’d read the jersey, and you’d be done...
Yeah! As far as the guys I’m racing right now, I think I’m better than those guys, but I just haven’t beat them all in one race yet (laughs).

That’s funny! You’ve beaten all of them, just not all at the same time!
Yeah, just not in one race!

That’s kind of why I wanted to talk to you this week, though, because you used to be the guy who could show up on any given week and be blazing fast, but now you’re the guy who is fast every week, but you haven’t actually won anything yet! Second place four weeks in a row, that’s got to get really old after a while...
It’s good and it’s not good at the same time, I think. It’s cool because I’m tied for the points lead and I haven’t done anything stupid yet, but at the same time, it’s like, it kind of sucks telling chicks you got second. “Who beat you?” “The redhead kid beat me...” (Laughs) No, I’m just playing.

It is kind of odd to be that consistent all of sudden, though. It’s not wins, but it’s a big deal to be there every week and not have anything weird go on.
Yeah, it’s crazy, because before I’ve been so hit-and-miss, but I feel like right now, I belong there no matter where I start. I’ve been getting like seventh- or eighth-place starts and coming through because I feel like I belong up there, but this last weekend, I got good starts, but I didn’t feel like I rode very good at all. I just stayed where I started, in second. I’m stoked, though. I feel like the bike is awesome, and everybody at the San Manuel Yamaha team I so cool that I don’t feel like I could’ve done that without those guys.

I think I asked you this last time I interviewed you for the website, but what are you actually missing? What are you missing that you need in order to win? You’ve got speed, but no starts, and now you had starts but not the speed, I guess. What are you missing?
I don’t know! It’s not anything huge. I think what’s missing is that I’ve been in second and I’ve been going, “Okay, I’m super-comfortable in second place right now, or I could really push it and try to win and maybe crash.” I’ve been content getting second like three, for or five seconds behind the leader for the last four weekends.

That’s a month of second-places...
Yeah, but I feel like it’s going to come. I just need one of those races where I feel totally confident and I can go out and win and feel right. Getting seconds isn’t cool, but at this point, where I’m at, it’s not too bad. It’s a lot better than where I was four months ago, when I didn’t know if I’d have a job this year...

And as crappy as things were last year, if you started reeling off second-place finishes, you’d have probably been pretty pumped on it!
Yeah, for sure, but that’s the thing: Before, I was racing James Stewart and Chad Reed, and those guys are legends, like I said in the beginning. Those are guys that you’ve seen on TV growing up, and you think they should beat you. But I’m racing Ryan Dungey and Ryan Villopoto, and in my head, those guys shouldn’t beat me. Maybe I’m not thinking straight, but if I don’t think someone is better than me, then I don’t think they should beat me!

That’s the attitude you probably should have as a racer, but not to be judgmental or anything, you probably shouldn’t be thinking that way about James Stewart and Chad Reed...
Well, I hope they can’t beat me, but we’ll see! (Laughs)

It’s just that it’s good to not read jerseys. If you’re going faster than the guy in front of you, you should just pass him, because if the jersey tells you you shouldn’t be going faster than him because of their name, they’re going to beat you every time. You’ll slow down. It happens in a good way sometimes, too, when a good rider has a bad day, and he’s running like sixth or seventh or something at a National, and then a rider comes up to pass them, and he goes, “Oh, well, this guy isn’t going to beat me!” and then they speed up.
Hey, I’m the worst at that! I’m the worst at seeing somebody who I don’t want to beat me coming up. Sometimes, I’ll just be content, and then somebody will catch me, and I’ll be all, “No. You’re not beating me. This isn’t going to happen.” Luckily, I don’t think like that all the time.

Maybe that’s the difference between you beating James Stewart and Chad Reed and not doing it is just believing that you can...
I guess I’ll have to just make a tape recording that tells me how good I am and sleep to that every night (laughs). I don’t know.

I don’t know either, but you had Kevin Windham all over your ass this weekend in the Heat race and in the main event, and you didn’t let him by!
Yeah, and Kevin is one of my childhood heroes, too! We’ve raced a lot. He was one of my biggest heroes growing up. I guess maybe I’m just starting to get more confidence now and I’m not really racing behind me. I think it would be hard for me to come in and really stuff Kevin Windham, though. If it was somebody else, it wouldn’t be so tough, but with Windham, I’d feel bad.

You’d be like, “But I remember you from Terrafirma!”
(Laughs) Yeah! “You were on the number-38 Yamaha!”

We’re headed east now, and you won your main event in 2008 in Minneapolis, so do you think you do better back east?
I think I might do better just because of my confidence. I’ve got more races under my belt, and more confidence, and I’m only getting faster. Today, I was out at the track from 9:30 to 3:30 in the afternoon just doing laps, not getting burnt out, and having fun doing it, so I think I’m only going to get better. I’ve got to start looking past this weekend, too. I want to win races before all the fast guys come back! Then I’m really going to have to get fast.

I’ve heard a couple people say, “Watch the battle tonight, because these guys all know they’re on borrowed time before Stewart and Reed come back.” But aren’t you kind of supposed to not worry about who it is, and just go? Rick Johnson and Bob Hannah and those guys, we look at them now as being so amazing, but to get to that point, they had to beat the guy who was already the best before they showed up, right?
Yeah, I mean, hopefully that’s how it will work. I’d like to be “the guy”, you know? James is fast. It’s going to take everybody being a lot faster to knock James down from being the fastest guy on a dirt bike. There might be days when I’m close to him, or certain tracks – like I’m close to him at the Yamaha test track, but when I go to his house, I get smoked. He only raced one race healthy and he won it. We’ll see how things go.

I’m just speculating, but I’m pretty sure that at that race, he went the wrong way on his setup or something, because he was panic-revving everywhere around the track while he was chasing Ryan Dungey.
There was nothing wrong with the San Manuel Yamaha bikes. Nothing at all. If there was any problem, I don’t think it had to do with the San Manuel Yamaha dirt bike...

I’m not saying the bike’s bad, I was just saying that maybe he had a setup issue before the main...
I can’t speak for James Stewart, but I can say that my bike is spot-on every time I get on it...

When those guys do come back, though, they should be healthy, so if you beat them, it should mean something that there isn’t a caveat like, “I beat them, but he was hurt,” or something like that. That’s probably a valuable thing for you to know where you stand and know what to work on.
You know what? I’m not going to get into a shit-talking, “I’m going to beat my teammate,” thing... I’m really not worried about it. When that time comes, we’ll see where our speed matches up, but at this point, they’re not going to be back for a while, so I’m just going to worry about beating the two Ryans, and Davi Millsaps, and Kevin Windham – who is going to be here until 2014, apparently. I’ve got enough people to worry about than to get scared and worry about when those guys are coming back. If they beat me, I don’t care, I’m just going to try and beat the two Ryans for this championship.

Yeah, no matter how many races you win or don’t win, if you have the most points at the end of the year, you’re the champ...
Yeah, I can go into summer vacation happy!

You’ve never led the points before, but you’re tied at the top right now, so does that change how you look at the races coming up?
I’ve never been in the points lead before, and I’m pumped to be here, but I’m not really stressing it. I’m just trying to ride and do all the same things. I’m going to show up to the race, hang out, be the same, happy kid... I mean, I go to a race, and I’m just pumped I get to ride a new track! You never get a perfect, prepped supercross track like that without going to the races. Every time you show up, you get a stadium with a new track, and you just try to ride it. I’m just going to try to ride it faster than the other dudes there. That’s it.

That sounds simple. “I’m just going to go faster than them, and everything should be fine!”
I haven’t really done that yet, but I know I can do it, and I’ve been close. I’ve won three Heat races, gotten five podiums, and four of those were second places, so I feel like I can do it.

And with the exception of Daytona, we pretty much know things are going to be dry from here on out, because the stadiums have roofs...
I don’t care about that. Everybody’s got to race the same thing. I’m from Oregon/Washington, so I can ride mud. It’s cool that I don’t have to worry about bringing extra boots and socks and things like that, but it doesn’t bother me either way.

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