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5 Minutes with... Justin Brayton

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JGR/Muscle Milk/Toyota Yamaha’s Justin Brayton is always a factor, yet it seems he’s always below the radar. We talked to him about his year so far, and the season at this point.

Racer X: Most of the time this year, you’re right there in the top five or six, and you’re on the board in practice, but it seems like no one’s talking about you. Why is that?
Justin Brayton: I don’t know. I just go about my business, and I’m not that flashy of a rider, and I’m not that flashy off the track. I just enjoy what I do, and I work hard during the week, and have fun racing during the weekends. I just try and get good results, and I feel like I’ve been doing that. I need to start getting on the podium here soon and start getting the results for my team and myself that we have set out for since the beginning of the year.

You have the speed, so what do you think is holding you back from finishing on the podium?
I just think it’s the starts. I haven’t been getting great starts. This past weekend, I got a good start in the heat race and proved that I had the speed to run up front with the guys. I just had a couple crashes in heat races and had bad gate picks and things like that. I just need to get off the line better and get up with the four or five guys up front. If you get a bad start, it’s hard to catch those guys.

To start the season, you had Josh Grant as a teammate, and he’s more of a flashy rider and stuff, so that being considered, do you guys get along well?
Yeah, we get along good. I didn’t really know Josh that well coming in, but we hit it off good, and back in North Carolina, we go golfing and hang out and go to dinner, and it works out well. I learn a lot from him when we’re practicing. He’s an amazing talent on a dirt bike, just watching him ride and throwing whips and things. I think it’s cool. I think we balance each other out. I think I can help him in some small ways, and he can help me, so I’m excited for him to get back on the bike.

Now that you have run up front with those guys, even just in a heat race, what are you doing in the meantime? Just practicing a bunch of starts? Because your speed seems fine.
Yeah, the crazy thing is that last weekend I started seventh, then got held up by one guy for one lap, and I lost contact with Ryan Dungey and ran sixth by myself for the rest of the time. My laptimes were the same as those guys, but when you’re five seconds back, you’re not going to reel that in within a couple laps, because we’re all so close. I felt like I was riding by myself the whole time, which was frustrating, because I know if I can just get a little bit better start, or get by that guy sooner, I could be right there in contact with them, and I feel like the race would be easier that way, too, just getting in a flow and battling up there. And that’s the goal this weekend, to get up there in the mi and hopefully get on the podium.

You come from Arenacross, so how come you aren’t just putting guys over the bails?
(Laughs) I’ve never been that guy for some reason. I mean, in Arenacross, you get labeled that way, because that’s the way things are there, but it’s been a long time since I’ve raced Arenacross. I enjoyed it, but I’m not going to go in there and just clean somebody out.

How weird was it to come in on this team on Yamahas, but these new Yamahas, after riding KTMs for so long?
It was pretty weird. It was tough at first. It took me a while to get used to it, but once we started testing and things, the team has so many things they can do to make me feel comfortable that it wasn’t too bad. It took a few days to get used to the bike, like with the engine noise at the front of the bike being kind of loud and things like that. But the new Yamaha’s awesome, and the team has helped me so much to get comfortable and get the results that we both deserve, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

Have you though about using the volume of this bike from the front as like a horn to get guys to get out of your way on the track? That’s kind of what struck me about James Stewart riding behind Ryan Dungey at Anaheim 1...
That’s true! I might try that this weekend! (Laughs) You can definitely tell when there’s a Yamaha behind you, even on my Yamaha.

So when do you head back to North Carolina?
I go back after this weekend.

Isn’t it hard to ride in that climate right about now?
It’s pretty chilly, that’s for sure. It’s nice to ride in California when it’s like 75 degrees and stuff. It’s fun to hang out with the team, but I’ll probably go down to Michael Byrne’s place in Georgia before Atlanta.

Thanks for your time.
Yep!
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