On May 23rd, 2009, Justin Barcia made his highly-anticipated professional motocross debut. At the opener for the 2009 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, he made an immediate impact, grabbing the lead on the first lap and pulling away. The super-aggressive rookie had speed, but all of that hard riding made him tired. He faded back to ninth at the end of the first moto. In moto two, he bounced back for a solid third, holding off eventual champion 2009 250 Champio Ryan Dungey and 2008 MX2 World Champion Tyla Rattray for most of the way.
With one pro national under his belt, Barcia already had a ton of laps led and a podium moto finish. The sky was the limit.
On Saturday, September, 8th, 2012, Barcia's 250 motocross career came to an end. His performance in his final moto was similar to his run in his debut--he got out front early and pegged his GEICO Honda CRF250R to the rev limiter. Eventual champion Blake Baggett nearly ran him down, but Barcia hung on to take the moto win. After that great debut four seaons ago, no one would have been surprise to hear Barcia would end his 250 days with a moto win. But in between, Barcia didn't quite deliver the results that debut seemed to preview.
He delivered one overall win during that 2009 rookie season, at Southwick, but went winless in 2010 and 2011. In fact, his 2011 season went so poorly that he was almost immediately out of championship contention, making him available for a mid-season call up to the 450 class. He delivered much better results there. Similar to his 250 debut, Barcia grabbed the immediate early lead in his first 450 race (at Unadilla) before getting passed by the eventual 450 champion, Ryan Villopoto. In his 450 finale last year at Pala, he went to an even higher level. He nearly won the final moto of the season, leading the whole way until getting passed by Dungey with just two laps to go.
"It was a disaster year after year after year this this class," said Barcia Saturday at Elsinore. "This year, it was just experience and stuff. And working with Jeff Stanton, I've given him credit before, we've worked on a lot of things, and it just works."
After leading his first-ever 250 MX moto in 2009...
...Barcia rides into the sunset with a moto win. But in between, he delivered just three overall victories.
Barcia's 2012 250 season was much better, as he delivered overall wins at Colorado and Washougal, and stayed in championship contention right until the end. "This year, I learned a lot," he says. "I think I had some of my worst races at the tracks I probably should have done the best at. Honestly, I think I put too much pressure on myself at those races. But all in all it was a really good year."
He also won his second-straight Lites East Championship in Monster Energy Supercross. Still, he ends his time on a 250 outdoors with just three overall wins in four seasons. After that sparking Glen Helen debut, it seemed like he was destined for so much more--perhaps his time in the 450 division will go that much better.