Open Mic:  Interviews from Atlanta

Open Mic: Interviews from Atlanta

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Interviews by Jason Weigandt and Steve Matthes

Ryan Villopoto, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 2nd in 450SX

Racer X: Last week you said you were going to be happy with what you get, and try to have more fun with it. So, are you happy?
Second is good. Made two points on Davi [Millsaps]. He’s kind of the guy that we need to concentrate on now. Stew is not really that guy. But man it would have been nice to win and get five points on Davi. It seems like every track we’ve been to, at this point, the track sets the limit on how hard you can ride. I was doing the rhythm section a little bit different than James and it was slower. I struggled in the turn after the rhythm section all day. I just felt doing that the way I was doing it was going to be consistent for 20 laps. It wasn’t the dragon’s back, it was that next turn after tripling in there. I just struggled in that turn all day, so.

Was there a point where you tried to turn it up, and then got sketchy?
I rode consistent through the whole time. I think on paper that was four tenths lower doing it that way [the dragon’s back rhythm]. I was decent, pretty good or the best on that other part of the track, or a little bit quicker on the rest of the part of the track. So I would just give it up there and catch back up, give it up there… and just play cat and mouse type of deal. You know, when you gives James a lead like that you’ve got to pressure him into a mistake, especially on a track like this.

A lot of the guys I talked to tonight, they said you can only go so fast on this track. How do you make up time?
It’s been rough this year. It’s been tough, figuring out how to do that. The track was tight. Even if it would have been unbelievably tacky it was a tight track. The track itself just had a limit on it. We were at that limit but it wasn’t the riders’ limits, it was the track’s limit. – Steve Matthes

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"Second is good. Made two points on Davi [Millsaps]. He’s kind of the guy that we need to concentrate on now. Stew is not really that guy." - Ryan Villopoto
Simon Cudby photo

Davi Millsaps, Rockstar Energy Racing, 3rd in 450SX

Racer X: How was it?
It was a long 20 laps, but it was a good twenty laps. I didn’t get the best start, but I made my way through the pack and salvaged third place. So I’m pretty excited about that.

It looked like you actually closed in on Stewart and Villopoto at one point.
Yeah, they had a pretty good gap on me before I got into third, so it was kind of hard to catch up to them. But they were riding great. I’m pumped for James to get a win, especially the way his season has gone so far. I haven’t really had much riding lately just to being sick, and bad weather and stuff. So I’m just trying to do what I can and take each race at a time.

And more rain in the forecast at your house this week?
Oh yeah.

What was this track like?
Really slick and awkward and all over the place. Very one-lined. If you don’t get a good start, it’s kind of hard.

Has it changed quite a bit since you first started racing here?
There were years where we had a lot of passing lines here. I think 2008, when I won, that had the tackiest dirt we’ve had here, and I really don’t know why. I don’t think it’s the dirt, though, I think it’s the track. They way they cross over the start, and the way they build 90 degree turns, it makes it really hard. – Jason Weigandt

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"I haven’t really had much riding lately just to being sick, and bad weather and stuff. So I’m just trying to do what I can and take each race at a time." - Davi Millsaps
Simon Cudby photo

Eli Tomac, GEICO Honda, 7th in 450SX

Racer X: You looked good in practice, but the starts, they have followed you from the 250s.
I had a good jump in the heat race. I had all the guys to my right beat but [Jake] Weimer got me on the inside. So I had to let off and then some guys went around me on the outside. And then I guess [in the] main, I was like 12th pick so I was outside the box. The gates were junk tonight. I got wheel spin really bad and then I just kind of had to fall in the middle of the pack. It was easy to spin and I spun a lot. I thought I had my weight back enough but it still spun.

What did you think of the class?
It’s actually really surprising how much 200ccs is. I rode a little tight all day but just the way the thing’s different for timing and leaning in your corners and the way the thing yanks on you out of the corners… I’m kind of smoked right now. I haven’t been like that all year. I’ll probably get better every race, it’s just going to take a little bit of time. – Steve Matthes

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"I rode a little tight all day but just the way the thing’s different for timing and leaning in your corners and the way the thing yanks on you out of the corners… I’m kind of smoked right now." - Eli Tomac
Simon Cudby photo

Justin Brayton, JGR Toyota Yamaha, 13th in 450SX

Racer X: Looked like it was going to be great, good start, battling near third place, and then you went down.
Yeah, I had a little help from the number 51 on a red bike. A lot of help from him [in the crash]. But it’s all good. Bummer. I had to get a good start. Obviously you had to tonight.

Once you get up after that crash, is it a different mentality.
Yeah, it’s not great. There’s eight guys that are really fast so you’re probably not going to get top eight and it’s not fun to get 10th. So you just basically salvage whatever you can. It’s a bummer of a night, but looking ahead to St. Louis. Kind of a home race. I’m sick of getting these results.

Let’s focus on the positives. It looks like you’ve been riding well.
I think so, for sure. What’s a bummer is, last week was fifth. But fifth still isn’t great, it’s okay. With so many good guys… it’s really fun to be a part of it because there are so many good guys, but then again it’s like you could have an awesome night, any of us could have an awesome night and still get fifth. – Steve Matthes

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"Yeah, I had a little help from the number 51 on a red bike. A lot of help from him [in the crash]. But it’s all good." - Justin Brayton
Simon Cudby photo

Andrew Short, BTO Sports KTM, 14th in 450SX

Racer X: KTM debut, great heat race. Washed out the front in the main event like we’ve seen so many other guys do, but how was it?
It was good considering what we were up against. It was great to get a ride under the BTO Sports KTM and met everybody and interact with the whole group. So considering first race and all that it went pretty good.

My start was killer. The KTM gets out of the gate really good. I think that’s key because the field is so deep right now in talent. Put yourself in a good position, you get sucked in and you separate yourself. I felt like I was having a great ride going until I lost the front and crashed, but new bike, new tires, new everything. So I think we have a great thing going and the next few weeks we’ll be a lot more competitive. – Steve Matthes

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"It was good considering what we were up against." - Andrew Short
Simon Cudby photo

Zach Bell, GEICO Honda, 10th in 250SX

Last weekend I dislocated my wrist and did some damage to it. This week I didn’t ride any, just kind of stayed off the bike and came into this race healthy. I just wanted to go out there and race and have fun, stay on two wheels, and make it through the night. Next week, I want to do the same thing. I just want to make it through the season and have fun. I’m not the fastest guy out there right now so I’m not trying to push over the limits. I’m just riding in my comfort zone. I just happened to make a few mistakes and it’s just turned out to be the worst crashes it could possibly be. But we’re working on that. We’re working on the hiccups and we’re just driving forward to next year and this year. – Jason Weigandt

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"I’m not the fastest guy out there right now so I’m not trying to push over the limits. I’m just riding in my comfort zone." - Zach Bell
Simon Cudby photo

Jeremy Martin, MyPlash/Metal Mulisha/Yamaha/Star Racing, 5th in 250SX

It went good, better than last week! I qualified out of my heat race! I got third there and went into the main with a positive attitude and got a pretty good jump, sneaked around the inside and came out, I think around seventh or eighth. I made a few quick passes, I got around Gavin Faith, then I got behind Justin Hill and we battled, for like, four or five laps. Then I was able to get by him, and I had a little bit of a free track and I started catching Blake Wharton for fourth. We had a really good battle going for a little while, but I fell into his pace for a little bit instead of racing the track. So I’ve got a few things to work on, but other than that it’s a big improvement from last week, where I didn’t even qualify. It’s nice to see that during the week everything I did paid off. We’re going to work on a few things here and we’re going to go into St. Louis and hopefully see improvements again.

Obviously you had some things go against you with bad starts last week, but how shocking was it for you to qualify third fastest last week and not make the main in Dallas?
To qualify third fastest and not make the main was embarrassing. It was a letdown for the team; they work really hard. I work really hard too. I’ve been training at the Carmichael farm, I believe in my program, and I believe I’m doing things right. It was just very disappointing to not qualify, and I was very disappointed. But I had to let it go. I had to let it go and move on. I learned from my mistakes, and as you can see this weekend, I progressed and got a solid top five.

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"To qualify third fastest [in Dallas] and not make the main was embarrassing. It was a letdown for the team; they work really hard." - Jeremy Martin
Simon Cudby photo

How does it feel to bounce bike like this?
It feels good, fifth is good, but I want to do better than that. I want to be up front battling for a win, that’s just kind of my mentality. Nothing is more fun than winning, and that’s what the team and I both work for. I want to be up there in the hunt mixing it up and banging bars with Dean Wilson, Marvin Musquin and Wil Hahn. Hopefully we’ll get to that point in the next few weekends and have some fun.

What’d you think of the track?
I thought the track was good. It was a lot more technical this weekend than last. The whoops were really big in practice, but they got beat down. I thought it was a really good racing track, and it was easier to make passes on, and hopefully St. Louis is going to be good.

What was the trickiest part of the track?
I’d say the trickiest part was after you did the sand section, you came over a big single, charged toward the starting gate, then made a 180 degree left where you had to triple into a rhythm section. It was hard, but when the corner was brand new, it was easy to triple. Once it started getting rutted up, the ruts would lead all the way up to the jump face. It was really technical because you had to carry good speed and commit to it. That made it pretty difficult. - Aaron Hansel

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