Interviews by Jason Weigandt and Steve Matthes
Justin Brayton, Muscle Milk Honda, 3-4 for second overall in 450 class
First moto, got a fourth or fifth-place start and worked my way up to third. I had a good battle going with [Jake] Weimer pretty much the whole race and ended up there. Second moto, I had a pretty good start, got passed by Stewart, and pretty much rode the whole race in fourth. [Andrew] Short and [Tyla] Rattray were pretty close to me for awhile but towards the end I felt good.
Once again we ask a question you really don’t have an answer to. What was the problem at the first few races?
Like I’ve said in some interviews, I could make all the excuses in the world, but I feel like, if I’m at the race, I should be doing well and go race. I shouldn’t be there to make excuses. I heard people say today that it leaked that I had a crash two weeks before Hangtown, and I had a concussion, fractured my hand and stuff. But it wasn’t bad—I got released to ride and stuff. It’s not an excuse. So, why am I doing better now? I had a really awesome two weeks during the break. I kept believing in myself. And I had two good starts in the motos. I think that’s about it.
It didn’t seem like the heat and humidty got to you, but I know you’ve been riding in some gnarly conditions lately. Do you think that helped?
I think so, for sure. Living outside of Charlotte and riding there, it’s really hot and humid, especially lately, its’ been crazy, 100 plus degrees every day, and it definitely helped. It showed today. I think just mentally knowing you’ve been in it every day helps. I’ve been to races where I was living in California where it’s cooler, and mentally you feel like 'I haven’t ridden in these conditions for awhile,' and you’re kind of already beat before you show up.
"I could make all the excuses in the world, but I feel like, if I’m at the race, I should be doing well and go race." - Justin Brayton
Simon Cudby photo
Justin Barcia, GEICO Honda, 2-2 for second overall in 250 Class
Good starts today, well, second moto the start wasn’t so good but I made a bunch of passes early. I feel like I rode good today and I led a lot of laps. The first moto I led almost the whole race. The bike was working good today, probably the best we’ve ever had it. I made a change before the second moto, and usually when I change something for the second moto it doesn’t work so good, but today we made a change and it worked. Hey, I’ve been racing for awhile now so I guess I’m actually learning how the bike works, finally. It has taken long enough!
It seems like you and Eli [Tomac] have been really determined to hold off those hard charges from [Blake] Baggett. How badly do you want it?
Yeah, obviously everyone wants to win and we do whatever it takes. I did the best I could today, it was all I had and I finished second, I can’t feel bad about that. There’s still a lot of racing left and we’re going to some tracks that I really like. I’m doing the right things and I feel like things are coming around for me—honestly, I’ve never really done that well outdoors in the whole time I’ve done it, and I’m doing much better this year. We’ve been working super hard, my trainer Jeff Stanton came down to my house for a week last week and we hit it hard. I’m going to keep working and it will pay off.
Any problems with the lapped rider in the first moto? Seems like you weren’t too mad about it.
Yeah, for sure. It was okay. I saw him look like three different ways when we came up to him, trying to get out of the way, and then he saw me before the second moto and wanted to talk. He was like “Uh, uh, uh,” and I was like, 'Don’t even worry about it dude. Don’t even say anything.' It was fine. But if that type of thing had happened to me last year I probably would have been yelling, 'I’m gonna’ kill you!' I’ve calmed down a little bit.
"I did the best I could today, it was all I had and I finished second, I can’t feel bad about that." - Justin Barcia
James Stewart, Yoshimura Suzuki, 6-3 for third overall in 450 Class
Well James, you were back today, and we know how that works for you. Everyone expects you to go 1-1 or it’s a problem. But you didn’t go 1-1 today and you didn’t even seem that bummed about it yourself! What were your expectations?
Yeah, it all comes back to being realistic. You’ve got to get back in the swing of things. I haven’t been able to ride that much, and then little Debbie came in, a hurricane or whatever it was, that came in to put a damper on some of our ride time, too. I think as a whole the bike is working great, we made a few changes testing at the house, and we made some changes for the second moto and it was better. But, I’m not back where I was at the beginning of the season, but at the same time, it’s better to be racing than to not be racing. That’s the way I’m looking at it, and I know I have a lot left.
At the beginning of the season you said your real goal was to have fun, race outdoors in front of these fans again, and learn about your new bike and team for 2013. So did focusing on those goals help you through the downtime?
Yeah, for sure. I actually felt like this is how we should have started the year out—I wasn’t expecting to go out and win the first four motos. This is the way things should have started out, but, I think everything is still going in the right direction. The team, we’re all in high spirits. They know where I’m at, so to come out here and get third, with Ryan [Dungey], Mike [Alessi], Justin [Brayton], all of those guys rode good. I had a few weird things happen in the first moto and I ended up stalling the motorcycle. Second moto I just kind of settled into a pace and ended up third.
Talk about the work you are putting in. I heard your team manager Mike Webb was down at your house on July 4th for testing—you guys are not taking holidays.
Yeah. The guy believes in the program. I came in after the first moto and told those guys, hey, it’s me. I need to continue to heal up, the bike is fine. I came here for the team, especially with Brett [Metcalfe] being out, I’m not sure where we would be at if he wasn’t hurt. So Mike [Webb] was down there, Adam our suspension guy was down there, so yeah, we got a little bit of testing in and it was good for us. I feel really confident about it.
You’re obviously out of the points chase. What are your goals now?
The goal is actually the same as it was at the beginning, and that’s to get ready for 2013. And I think that’s why I came back for this race, if it was all about just winning, I probably wouldn’t have come back yet. It was all about getting out there and just riding. I love this place, the track was awesome, and the temperature wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be. The goal is to continue to get better and find the form I had at the beginning of the year. I know it’s there.
What’s the status of the hand injury? Was that a problem?
No, no. The hand, I think, like anyone says, I’ve only ridden like four times since High Point. So like anyone, I just need some time to get back into the swing of things. The hand was good, I was happy with that. I didn’t want a performance like I had at High Point, where the hand was really hurting. I rode better today. And the cool part was, even running in third in that second moto, there was still like a wave of people cheering me on out there. That’s motivating and that’s cool. Whether they were drunk, or just really liked me, anyway, it was all good!
"Yeah, it all comes back to being realistic. You’ve got to get back in the swing of things. I haven’t been able to ride that much..." - James Stewart
Simon Cudby photo
Eli Tomac, GEICO Honda, 5-3 for third overall in 250 Class
Racer X: How was your day?
It was decent. Can’t complain about podiums. First one here at RedBud. It was sweet to spray the fans.
And last year, not so good for you. So it had to feel good.
Yeah, I had a massive yard sale off the leap last year just doubling and then a big ‘ol superman that just never got pulled back. But first moto was just not good. I tried to settle on the pace because I didn’t want to blow myself up early because it was so hot. So I just kind of sat there and ate [Ken] Roczen and [Marvin] Musquin’s roost there and ended up hitting neutral in a corner, tipping over and giving those guys like ten seconds. That pretty much put the nail in the coffin in that moto. Then second one came around. Not quite as good of a start, but definitely felt better. I felt more like myself. I was able to charge all the way. Got Musquin there with a few to go and that was good enough to lock in that podium.
"I feel like I’m becoming part of that mix up front. That has been the goal, and I’m really having fun." - Marvin Musquin
Simon Cudby photo
Marvin Musquin, Red Bull KTM, 4-4 for fourth overall in 250 Class
I feel like I’m becoming part of that mix up front. That has been the goal, and I’m really having fun. I have a good feeling and that’s good, but I need to get faster. I did a great start first moto. I really had fun the first few laps. Then battling with [Justin] Barcia and [Blake] Baggett, they passed me, but, like I said, I feel like I am part of the group, now. I thought Budds Creek was the best race so far, but now RedBud is the best! The crowd, the dirt, the jumps, big ruts, that was real motocross, that was great.
Tyla Rattray, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 4-5 for fourth overall in 450 Class
How are you?
Really? You pretty spent?
I didn’t even know what to expect coming out here. I knew I was in shape and, obviously, it was super-hot. I’m normally good in hot conditions and at the end I was finished for both races. Racing the 450 Class, it’s mean, dude.
Wait, so we can’t run “Africa hot, this was no problem?” It actually gets you a little bit for once?
Yeah. Africa hot got me today.
Cole Thompson, Honda, 7-8 for seventh overall in 450 Class
It was good start to finish. I got a good qualifying time, got a good gate pick. I started good in the first moto and from there I got seventh. Then second moto, same thing, got a good start. My cardio felt great all day and it paid off.
"So I’m passing people and I think I was victim nine hundred thousand twenty eight of a takeout by Vince Friese." - Jake Weimer
Simon Cudby photo
Jake Weimer, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 2-20 for 10th overall in 450 Class
Moto 1 was good. We spent a lot of time testing and I think we’re making progress. So the first moto was pretty good. I got a decent start and made a couple passes, James [Stewart] went down, got into second, just rode from there. [Ryan] Dungey was just gone before even halfway. So at that point, it was just kind of riding to get second. Then it was so hot today, that was definitely a concern. I felt good going into the second moto. I was feeling good about it. I got a pretty good start, similar to the first moto. I think I was fifth, probably. Then on the first lap, [Andrew] Short got underneath me and I don’t imagine he did it on purpose, but he kind of ran into me. I ended up going down there. Then, at that point, you get up and try to do your best to get up as far as you can. So I’m passing people and I think I was victim nine hundred thousand twenty eight of a takeout by Vince Friese. That was just extremely frustrating. I don’t want to say my moto was ruined, but my chances at an overall were ruined on lap one. So, overall, I’m super disappointed on the day. That’s not what I was looking for. Moto 1 was alright. I got on the podium, which is always good. I wanted to come out in moto 2 and come out swinging and I blew it.
Bobby Kiniry, Rockstar Star-Valli Yamaha, 8-23 for 14th overall in 450 Class
First moto, I just kind of tried to put my head down. I got a mediocre start and I passed my way up to eighth. I really was looking for a top five today. I know 100 percent that I’m strong enough to do that. Second moto, I really wanted to do that. I got a terrible start, passed maybe 10-15 guys the first lap, got myself up to tenth, was passing Broc Tickle and laid it down really hard. It took the wind out of my sails pretty good. It knocked the wind out of me, bent my bike up real bad. I got up and got going and tried to tough it out. I got up to twentieth then I laid it down again. It was just one of those days. I got up and passed some of those guys back and ended up 23rd, just trying to make a couple more dollars for me there.
Nick Wey, Motosport.com/Foremost Insurance/Ti-Lube Kawasaki, 17-14 for 15th overall
Eh, I mean not what I wanted, for sure. But it’s pretty hard to come off the couch. I think at the first race, everyone’s figuring their stuff out. I went to the first race and I wasn’t 100 percent healthy and I was more competitive, even though I wasn’t 100 percent. Then I skipped a few and I went to High Point and that was a weird wake-up call. Since then, I’ve just been doing a lot of riding and got my bike kind of figured out a little bit better. I came here feeling pretty good about it and then I think I qualified tenth, which is okay. I crashed at the beginning of the first moto and I got ran over a couple times. It didn’t phase me [laughs]. I only came back to like 17th or something, which is pretty good for how long I was down. Second moto, I didn’t get the start I needed and then once I got into whatever place I was in, there was this huge gap to the next guy and I just kept chipping away, but I wasn’t able to make up the time that I needed.
Michael Byrne, BTOSports.com BBMX Suzuki, 10-10 for 11th overall in 450 Class
I don’t even know if you can call it a blister when my hand tears open. Not good. It didn’t feel so good. But two solid motos. First time all year, really. It was good. I was definitely up there. I felt really good second moto until the halfway point when that happened. We were just trying to survive. I couldn’t hang on. This track you have to hold the front end up and work it a lot and, with my hand, I just couldn’t do it. So I gave up like three or four spots at the end, which hurt my overall. But, like I said, two solid motos and then get ready for a lot of tracks that I enjoy coming up.
"I could have left here with the points lead, but I didn’t capitalize on it." Tarah Gieger
Simon Cudby photo
Ashley Fiolek, Team Honda, 1-1 for first overall in WMX Class
I’m from Michigan, but I never rode here when I was a kid, I left here when I was pretty young. I just love the fans, and that makes it fun for me here. But I never thought I would go 1-1 today coming back from injury.
And with problems today for Patterson, who now has a broken hand, and Gieger missing out on a few points in the second moto, you’re back in the thick of this, points wise? Are you surprised?
I didn’t expect to come back here and win and I definitely didn’t expect to be back in the championship. But the season isn’t over, we’ll see what happens now.
What’s your condition?
I was out for a really long time. This is only my second or third time riding. I was trying to get used to the heat a little bit, too. I think I’ll progress more as I get more time on the bike.
Tarah Gieger, Lucas Oil Troy Lee Honda, 2-6 for third overall in WMX Class
Track was super rough today, we had the 3rd and 6th motos. First moto I was close to Ashley and tried some different lines, but they didn’t work out, then we got into lappers and she got away. Second moto I started behind her and was able to make the pass, led some laps, but unfortunately I went down, just lost the front end in a berm. I couldn’t get my bike restarted. I knew we had a pretty big lead so I just tried to stay calm and get it going, but it didn’t work out. I lost a lot of positions and I think I was back in seventh or something, or sixth, and I made a really hard push and got to fourth. On the last lap I was still pushing, but I must have gotten a rock or something caught in my back brake, so that slowed me down. It bummed me out because I worked really hard to get back to fourth. I could have left here with the points lead, but I didn’t capitalize on it.