Interviews by Steve Matthes and Jason Weigandt with special assistance from Haley Whisennand
Broc Tickle, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 2-4 for 2nd overall in 450 Class
Actually, in the first moto I didn't even know where I was until about 15 minutes into the moto.
Oh, stop it.
I'm not lying! Then he put "second" on the board, and I was like, 'Who is winning?' Then I saw it was Michael Byrne, and I'm not lying, I was pushing it hard and I wasn't catching him. I was like, 'Man! I thought I was riding good!' I hadn't led an outdoor national ever, so once I got the lead, I was obviously a little nervous. I just tried to stay smooth. I saw guys just laying all over the place, and staying smooth is what got me to the front. This track could change your day really quickly.
This track good for you in the past?
Normally no, this is not one of my good races. I was nervous coming into this one, I wasn't sure if I could carry my speed through it, so it worked out well.
"Actually, in the first moto I didn't even know where I was until about 15 minutes into the moto." - Broc Tickle
Simon Cudby photo
Andrew Short, Chaparral Honda, 4-3 for 3rd overall in 450 Class
Second moto was good, I had a great start, made some changes on the bike to a setting that was a little more old-school for me, and it worked. I didn't have a good race last weekend at Southwick, and I had some health problems at home during the week. I didn't ride all week, and I woke up this morning honestly not knowing if I was going to race. So I was really happy with the way it turned out, and I gained a lot of points on [Jake] Weimer who had an unfortunate day. For me it was the opposite, I had a horrible week and then ended up with good results.
How was the track?
It was extra rutty. This is a track that is normally really fast and really flowy, but I think the ruts slowed it down a bit, and you could point and shoot more, which is more of my style. The conditions went my way.
What did you change for the start?
The fork position height for the holeshot button. It's a finicky thing, it changes from rider to rider, but it worked for me.
Davi Millsaps, JGR/Toyota Yamaha, 3-5 for 4th overall in 450 Class
Podium in the first moto. Second moto wasn't as good, but I did get the holeshot, so that was cool. I'm trying to come back from an injury, I'm trying to do the best I could. I haven't ridden much in the eight-week period since I got hurt.
What was the difference in the second moto?
There were bad lines, and then there were mine [laughs]. They were horrible! Four guys got me. I was running the same lines I did in the first moto and that didn't work. I tried changing some and they were slow, obviously. I couldn't pull it together. Even after Tickle went by me, I tried to follow his lines the most, and they were better, but I couldn't do them as fast. The track was good. This was the best Unadilla I've ridden in a long, long time, and I've had four or five podiums here, so it's always been good to me in the past.
"I'm trying to come back from an injury, I'm trying to do the best I could. I haven't ridden much in the eight-week period since I got hurt." Davi Millsaps
Simon Cudby photo
Eli Tomac, GEICO Honda, 6-1 for 2nd overall in 250 Class
Racer X: I guess we’ll talk about the first moto, which didn’t go exactly to your liking. What happened?
Eli Tomac: Yeah, first moto wasn’t a great start. It was somewhere around top ten or something. Then with the screwy section, yeah, I pretty much got screwed! I think it was Martin and Sipes down there right when I was kind of sneaking around on the inside and Martin leaned on his bike and he came into mine, so went down there and got back up somewhere in the 20s. I just made a couple little stupid mistakes here and there, like tipping over in the corner. So overall, it was a rough moto.
Second moto you went out there and pushed. [Justin] Barcia almost went over the bars in that berm. You were able to get around the outside, you guys drag raced up the hill and then that hits too.
When I made that pass, I was on the good side of that hill. You get drive up that hill on the left side. I figured that little mistake and I put in a couple of solid laps and, yeah, it worked out.
You were really able to extend the lead once you got Justin.
It was just (about) finding the right lines and making everything connect. The way this track works, if you make a mistake at the beginning of the corner, it will slow you down all the way through the next straightaway.
Some races this year you have had some crazy speed. Can you figure out what the difference is in the races where you're just going fast, and the other ones where you are going really, really fast?
I don't know. We changed a little sag or something between motor, but it wasn't anything major. Getting off to a good start helps. It's hard to get comfortable when you're just eating roost in eighth or tenth place. The first moto, nothing was going. You start with those top guys, you get into that fast pace.
How hard was the track?
It was probably one of the most technical tracks I've ridden in the series. Just with the ruts, and how the dirt would try to pull your front wheel or your rear wheel anywhere it wanted. It was really tough.
Ken Roczen, Red Bull KTM, 1-6 for 3rd overall in 250 Class
Racer X: You took that moto victory you’ve been wanting all year.
Ken Roczen: Yeah, I’m super happy with that. I had a pretty decent start, but the last couple of weeks I had some good training days and I just really wanted it really bad this time, you know? The track really reminded me of Europe. It was really rutted and I actually really like it a lot. But after that first moto, it was great with Marvin [Musquin] finishing up second and me finishing first. Then I came to the podium and kind of got stomach cramps. I went back to the semi and just like right before, my body turned down. It was really aching, so I think I’m getting the flu. It’s good that I finished on the podium and kept being strong and finished the moto. I was close to Eli in points. It’s the way it is. Now we get a weekend off and I’ll try and get back and see what I can do.
What was different about it today that let you get out there and take that first moto victory?
Well, we’ve been working on the bike a lot lately and I feel like I’ve done a lot better. So when you feel safer and you get a couple of good weeks of practice, it’s going to bring you a lot, as you can see. I changed a little bit in my training, but nothing special. The season is long. You still have to look that you’re not doing too much. But overall, I’m happy with my performance, I’m happy with KTM. Congratulations for Marvin for his overall win. It was an awesome ride and I’m pretty sure everyone at KTM is happy.
"The track really reminded me of Europe. It was really rutted and I actually really like it a lot." Ken Roczen
Simon Cudby photo
Justin Barcia, GEICO Honda, 7-2 for 4th overall in 250 Class
Racer X: How did it go?
Justin Barcia: Practice was real good. I had fun. The track was good, a little slick and what not, but I had a good time. Always love coming up here. The fans are the best, you know? Honestly, that was probably the only highlight of my day was the fans. So I wanted to thank them. Besides that, it really wasn’t that great of a day. First moto, I crashed three times and two of them weren’t even my fault, so that kind of sucked. Well, I guess they were my fault. I put myself in that situation with a bad start. But, yeah, so first moto I went down three times, fought my way to seventh. Then second moto, I got a holeshot, was out front and… what am I going to call it… struggled?
So even when you were out front, you weren’t feeling it, necessarily?
Yeah, you know, I can’t say I wasn’t feeling it because all I want to do is win. Just me and the bike weren’t bonding too well these past two weekends, I guess you could say. It is what it is and I ended up second [in the] second moto, but no podium, so that’s a bummer. I’ve been on the podium all year except for a couple of races, so that kind of stinks. But I’m going to go home, week off, work hard and charge into Pennsylvania.
Blake Baggett, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 3-5 for 5th overall in 250 Class
Racer X: How did it go?
Blake Baggett: We’ll work backwards on the day. To look at the bright side of it, at the end of the day, we didn’t lose any points to the championship hunt. Well, [didn't lose any] to second place. So that’s a positive. Other than that, it was pretty pitiful. I didn’t ride like myself. I got a decent start in the first moto and got passed. Then I was just steady eddie right there and couldn’t get anything to happen and then the second one, I got a pretty bad start. I mean, whatever. It was in the top ten, but not that great of a start. I just couldn’t go anywhere. I tried everything I could, lines and other stuff, but nothing was really working. I’m just a little disappointed that I couldn’t work my way forward and I kind of got stuck in the pack. Bummed about that, but also happy that I didn’t lose any points, but then bummed that I didn’t gain any points. First moto was looking good. I thought I had gained some points. Now there’s a weekend off. There’s a lot of time and a lot of things to do and just enjoy it for a little bit and get serious. I’ve been training really hard in Florida with Villopoto and Weimer and Rattray and Aldon. I know I’m in good shape and I know I’ve got the speed. Just today I wasn’t able to show it and that’s about it. No excuses.
"To look at the bright side of it, at the end of the day, we didn’t lose any points to the championship hunt. Well, [didn't lose any] to second place." - Blake Baggett
Simon Cudby photo
Justin Bogle, GEICO Honda, 11-4 for 6th overall in 250 Class
It was a lot better than last week. I liked the track and it was a lot of fun. First moto I was up front until a lapper took me out, so that was kind of bad. Second moto, I was fourth, and almost got to third. It was close, I tried to hold it wide open past the mechanic's turn to try to make the pass, but I ended up pushing out wide. Still, it was a good day. A lot better than I've been doing, that's for sure.
Wil Hahn, GEICO Honda, 9-8 for 7th overall in 250 Class
It was just kind of an average day. Started off bad, practice wasn't great. But the second moto was good, I was right behind two other riders, but I just couldn't capitalize. I don't know, it was a long day for me.
Jake Weimer, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 40-18 for 22nd overall in 450 Class
Racer X: Talk about the crash.
Jake Weimer: Just came down a hill before the big table top. I was trying to push and get myself a lead. As soon as I made contact with the berm, I hit a soft spot, the front wheel kind of went over it, and I just went flying from there. It was a pretty good one. I whacked my head pretty good and got some pretty gnarly whiplash.
I'm riding fine, I've just been a mess a little bit here. Just crashing, yeah. It's not like I can say I tweaked something and haven't been able to practice. Everything is the same, it's normal, I've just had two bad weekends. And then it gets worse, because I get mad at myself. I'll probably take a day or two off to let the whiplash subside a little bit, then I'll go to Steel City to try to get the train on the tracks. That's all I can do.
"Yeah it was a great way to rebound from the DNF. We had a mechanical, but what are you going to do? It's motocross and things like that are going to happen." - Mike Alessi
Simon Cudby photo
Mike Alessi, MotoConcepts, DNF-2 for 10th in 450 Class
Yeah it was a great way to rebound from the DNF. We had a mechanical, but what are you going to do? It's motocross and things like that are going to happen. We came back for second in moto two, and someone said we were like 1.5 behind Dungey at the finish, so that's as close as I've been all year. We're going to keep plugging along, even if the championship is gone.
We spoke after practice and you said your suspension needed work.
Well, I don't know. I don't know what to say. The track was really hard to ride, it was just muddy and greasy and I ended up seventh in qualifying, maybe a little further back then we wanted, but we bounced back. Second moto was great, we made some changes. It was one of those days…hey, I'm not going to get into that negative part. Second moto was great.
Did it seem like you had some sections where you felt you were going a little faster.
Absolutely. It was kind of like Washougal, there were sections where I felt I was a little faster, but there were sections where, obviously, Dungey was going faster, too. It worked out to where we were pretty equal, our lap times show we were about the same. I made a few mistakes around the 20 minute mark and he got away, but then I put in a hard charge and tried to close back in on the end.
Phil Nicoletti, Honda, 7-11 for 8th in 450 Class
I'm just pumped to finally get two motos under my belt. To go 7-11 for eighth overall is good. I've been having a little troubles mid moto and some guys get around me that really shouldn't, so I'm working on that. In this class, I don't have the credentials of a lot of the guys, but I'm working on it. I only have one more race, I don't have the money to get to Elsinore, so hopefully I can do really well at Steel City, maybe put it into fifth place.
It's probably one of the best Unadillas I've ridden since I turned pro in '08. It wasn't hard pack, we had ruts, and that's what we grow up on here in New York.