Open Mic:  Interviews from St. Louis

Open Mic: Interviews from St. Louis

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Wil Hahn, GEICO Honda, 1st in 250SX

Last week, first career win, second week, second career win. Great ride. [Dean] Wilson caught you, made a pass on you and you wicked it up and pulled away a bit. This is a statement win for sure.
Yeah, it was a good feeling. I’m not happy with the way my first eight laps were, because he caught me pretty quick. No doubt about it, he came through the pack and he earned that. When he got by me, something clicked and I was able to wick it up. Again, this weekend same as last week, I try to just rely on my fitness and stay calm and know that if I just remain solid we can make it happen.

Where did you think you picked it up to pull away a little bit?
All the way [around the track] I think after lap eight. And then he stuck it in on me twice. I saw the pit board, it said, “Go time.” I told myself there’s really nothing too lose. I’ve just got to lay it on the line and I felt like I did that tonight. And mainly the corners. Everyone does the same rhythms; it’s a matter of charging them, and I understand that. But man I just tried to wick it up and hit my corners like I was in practice. Before I was timid, riding low, and was able to wick it up.

Everybody talks about the dirt. Pretty good to be back here in St. Louis with this dirt.
It is phenomenal dirt here. You could make a batch of brownies in the middle of the track.

Kind of a home race for you, too, right?
Somewhat, yeah. I could feel the crowd tonight. Dallas, there’s a lot of friends and family there. This is close to Kansas.

Which was a home race for you?
I would say this. Kansas is near here. Like I said, I could literally feel the crowd tonight. I did my hot lap and I came back to the podium and I’m like, I can feel them. It’s a good feeling. – Steve Matthes

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"Again, this weekend same as last week, I try to just rely on my fitness and stay calm and know that if I just remain solid we can make it happen." - Wil Hahn
Simon Cudby photo

James Stewart, Yoshimura Suzuki, 2nd in 450SX

There was a lot of passing going in there, some aggressive passing, obviously. I probably need to be a little bit more aggressive. Those guys were attacking me. I had to kind of leave some of the outsides open in the beginning and when they started jumping in the inside I started riding a little bit tighter in the inside lines. It just wasn’t that fast. Hat’s off to Ryan [Villopoto], he rode good. All the guys, everybody was right there. It was a fun race. You just kind of had a little bit of mistakes and I think if you lost that… when Barcia got me last time I lost that tail on Villopoto. I just stayed the same to him at the end and it was hard to get it back.

Just getting halfway in the season it seems like the intensity’s ramped up here a little bit.
Yeah, it is. I don’t know what Davi [Millsaps] finished. I didn’t see him on the top five. First time I think he’s out of the top five. You’ve got half the field, three out of four guys are out of it, the championship. And then you got the other ones racing. So everybody’s kind of racing for their own little pride. I knew after last weekend, Atlanta, it was going to be turned up a notch, which is awesome. So we’ll work on that and get better.

Practice looked a little rough on you.
Yeah, I went down. Practice was okay. I struggled during the day for some reason. Last couple weekends I have. But I still came out pretty good in the heat race. Just cross-rutted in practice and hurt my ribs a little bit. A little sore from that, but no excuses. Like I said, if I rode like the last five laps -- and it’s easy to say that now -- I think I would have been a lot closer and possibly had a chance to win.

These last three races how much difference is it just physically, your riding, everything else?
A lot different. We’re racing. Three, four weeks ago I don’t think I would have overcome after those guys attacked me to be able to fight back and come back in there and even kind of pull away from the guys behind me a little. It’s definitely getting better. I think the riding, you’ll see that. I see a couple things I can work on, kind of pick up some speed a little bit, and I look forward to Daytona. It’s going to be fun. – Jason Weigandt

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"There was a lot of passing going in there, some aggressive passing, obviously. I probably need to be a little bit more aggressive. Those guys were attacking me." - James Stewart
Simon Cudby photo

Justin Barcia, Team Honda Muscle Milk, 5th in 450SX

That was a crazy race, dude.
Yeah, it was definitely crazy. I was feeling good and battling it up, having five, six, so many fast guys, one mistake puts you from top three to off the box like that. Definitely a bummer. I went in the corner pretty good and clipped my front brake. Tuff Block stood me up a little, and couldn’t do a triple. So it was definitely tough. And racing with those guys is so awesome, but then you got a guy like Stewart that is not very fun to race with. I race really aggressive with everyone, but I try not to race super dirty, but he takes it to that next level.

At one point did you think, hey, I might be able to win this one? You were in position at one point.
Yeah, I was feeling the best I felt since Phoenix for sure. I was happy, I was feeling good on the bike. Like I said that one darn mistake will put you off the box. And I respect all those guys out there, it’s fun racing with them. That’s what racing’s all about. Even [trainer, Jeff] Stanton said, “You can’t feel too bad about that night. Everyone’s going so fast and one little mistake takes you out.” It’s a learning year and I would like to try to make it a championship year, but first year, lots of mistakes and try to learn from them. – Jason Weigandt

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"Yeah, it was definitely crazy. I was feeling good and battling it up, having five, six, so many fast guys, one mistake puts you from top three to off the box like that." - Justin Barcia
Simon Cudby photo

Chad Reed, TwoTwo Motorsports Honda, 3rd in 450SX

Second podium of the year, a good ride.
Yeah, second one in… didn’t think it was going to take 6 or 8 weeks or whatever it was, but took a step in the right direction tonight.

Dirt good, track good. I thought the bike was maybe a little better?
We went back to last year’s suspension so it was awesome.

Yeah, I heard that. Last year’s suspension, when you won in Australia.
I went back to my Australia settings. The last race I won.

What about this cross flag controversy with RV. Official, there’s no penalty, but some thought that there would be.
There isn’t any penalty? I don’t know. Are you allowed to pass on a red cross and a red light?

It seems like nobody knows. Source of mass confusion. I don’t really know. The race itself, good battle there going on. Five of you guys going at it. Sticking it in on Stew like it was 2008 all over.
2011. There’ll be more of that. I just need to get some comfort in the front. My bike’s being like a girl that cheated on me. I just got to trust her again. – Steve Matthes

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"We went back to last year’s suspension so it was awesome." - Chad Reed
Simon Cudby photo

Dean Wilson, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 2nd in 250SX

How’d it go, great? [Laughs] Pumped?
No, but it was a good ride for me. I think I proved to myself that I’m the fastest, I just need to put it all together.

How far back were you? Mid-pack, right?
I think I was definitely 12th almost. I think I was like 14th off the start.

You were fifth quickly.
Yeah, I got lucky. I escaped some crashes. The thing that bugs me is that I caught Wil and then I kind of made a couple attempts to pass him and then I kind of just ruined myself. I just didn’t make them stick, but he rode awesome. – Jason Weigandt

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"I think I proved to myself that I’m the fastest, I just need to put it all together." - Dean Wilson
Simon Cudby photo

Ryan Dungey, Red Bull KTM, 4th in 450SX

We actually made a lot of adjustments today to the bike internally, more with the suspension. We had a little different fork setting, kind of get a little bit more comfort in the front. And then we also tried a rear shock that got a lot more comfort as well. I hate to be testing at a race but it was good to see that the bike got better. Going into the main, got off to a good start but then going around the first couple turns we kind of got shut out and shuffled back there. We were about sixth place when they threw the red flag out. And the restart we took off… it was kind of carnage that first lap. We were able to make a couple passes that didn’t stick and then we made a couple passes that did stick, so it was kind of all over the place. But we were able to move our way up to fifth, got into fourth and, right there on Chad and James right there at the end, and Villopoto. So it was a good night. I was really happy with the bike setup.

You were kind of sandwiched between a lot of heavy hitters, especially in this race, everyone was up front. You had Barcia behind you, you had Reed up front. Everyone could get aggressive. What’s going through your head when you’re in that spot?
The competition is tough. It’s a really stacked class. On top of that, the tracks haven’t been very technically tough. They’ve been hard, don’t get me wrong, but everybody does the same rhythm so it doesn’t really separate the guys too much. So the racing’s close. It makes for good racing. So being in that position, kind of being sandwiched between a lot of guys going fast, you’re not really pulling, you’re not gaining and it’s just kind of a cat and mouse. – Jason Weigandt

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"I hate to be testing at a race but it was good to see that the bike got better." - Ryan Dungey
Simon Cudby photo

Davi Millsaps, Rockstar Energy Racing, 6th in 450SX

How’d it go?
It didn’t go that great but it definitely could have been a lot worse. There’s always next weekend, and that’s what we’re looking forward to.

First bad start of the season. But did you feel you rode okay, or do you feel you could have done better?
I got smashed by a couple people early. Canard was trying to keep Dungey in front of him and clipped a tuff block and whiskey-throttled into me and blew my right arm apart. It was like having instant arm pump, I can’t even straighten my elbow right now. So, try to get that taken care of. Dungey ended up going by me and I kind of stopped and I fell over. But all in all it was a crazy night and just looking forward to next weekend.

You’re going to have some of these, so you’re all right to take sixth out of that?
Yeah. I’m not mad. – Jason Weigandt

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"Canard was trying to keep Dungey in front of him and clipped a tuff block and whiskey-throttled into me and blew my right arm apart." - Davi Millsaps
Simon Cudby photo

Justin Brayton, JGR Toyota Yamaha, 9th in 450SX

How was it? I don’t think you’re pumped.
No, not pumped at all. Not a great start and not a great race. It’s really frustrating. I’m going to keep my mouth shut on the track situation and stuff.

Did you feel like you were riding all right during the day or were you struggling?
Yeah, but you could have anybody ride a dirt bike and ride halfway decent when there’s no real whoops and there’s a one-line sand section. It’s hard. Everyone’s got to race the same track so it’s hard to be too negative. It was a bummer. Start controls the whole race for sure.

So your result, you felt like you were riding okay, it’s just who knows, when the track’s like this?
For sure, RV was going really fast but I looked at lap times, I was doing like 50s and the leaders like podium guys were doing 50s and maybe squeaked in one or two 49s. So you start with them and you can run that pace no problem. I just didn’t start with them, so it’s my fault. – Jason Weigandt

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"Not a great start and not a great race. It’s really frustrating. I’m going to keep my mouth shut on the track situation and stuff." - Justin Brayton
Simon Cudby photo

Vince Friese, Slaton/TUF Racing, 6th in 250SX

It was good. I finally got a good start. I rode solid. I wasn’t too happy with getting passed like that, but it was all really fast guys that were passing me. They were getting that whoop section, that little triple after it. That was kind of hurting. But I felt like I rode it out for a sixth. I’ve been consistent, fifth in points now. Three top tens and I’m happy with that. I’m definitely looking to get a top five or a podium before the seasons over, though. I think I can do it; I just need to find a little bit of speed and keep getting starts like that.

Did riding the 450 coming in give you a little momentum? Do you think that’s helped a little bit?
Yeah, it definitely helped me as far as having the confidence and everything like that, getting good starts. I think it was a good move. I want to do the same thing next year if I can find a deal to be able to get the same thing done. – Jason Weigandt

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"Three top tens and I’m happy with that. I’m definitely looking to get a top five or a podium before the seasons over, though." - Vince Friese
Simon Cudby photo

Trey Canard, Team Honda Muscle Milk, 8th in 450SX

Better traction tonight but rough main event for you.
Yeah, I don’t know if it’s rough; it’s been about average. Really, last three or four, kind of been around that 8th, 7th, 5th mark.

Moving up well but you’re not giving yourself early on much of a chance.
And I did that time. I was in fourth or fifth riding the first lap, I just kind of choked up and almost crashed big. I tried to stay in front of Dungey and I cut it too close to the hay bales. It grabbed my foot and when I did, it was going into a right turn. It dragged me off the bike so I held it wide open basically into Davi. Hit him, went down, and was kind of late getting up. – Steve Matthes

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"I was in fourth or fifth riding the first lap, I just kind of choked up and almost crashed big." - Trey Canard
Simon Cudby photo

Mike Alessi, MotoConcepts, 7th in 450SX

I think a good ride for you. A holeshot, and you were in the mix for a long time, ended up seventh. Good ride.
Thank you. The starts have been killing me this year. I knew sooner or later it was going to come, I’ve just been so close. It was great. I got the start finally and it felt so good, and I was up front. Obviously the front guys were going to be a little faster than me and they got by me. I kind of settled in my pace about seventh, eighth lap. It was crazy with that restart, with Villopoto jumping the red cross. He passed me, which he wasn’t supposed to and I think he got DQ’d back three spots or something. I don’t know why he did that, which was kind of weird obviously. But he was riding good tonight. There was no denying him. There was no stopping him. He was riding good. – Steve Matthes

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"The starts have been killing me this year. I knew sooner or later it was going to come, I’ve just been so close." - Mike Alessi
Simon Cudby photo

PJ Larsen, Eleven10 Mods Yamaha, 10th in 250SX

How was your first race with Eleven10 and your new Yamaha—a bike you didn’t get to spend much time with before this race?
I’m super excited to come out here and finish top ten. Obviously the guys did a lot of work to try and be here in St. Louis. We struggled throughout practice with some jetting stuff, be we got it turned around in the heat race. I went out there and felt the bike out; I felt good on it. We barely qualified, but we qualified. We barely qualified for the night show even! I’m pumped on it. From where we were five hours ago to where we are now—it’s leaps and bounds better. At least we have clear heads going into Daytona next week.

Is there anything you’d like to smooth over on the bike before Daytona? I guess you’re riding with a pretty basic suspension setup at the moment.
My main thing right now is getting seat time on it—getting familiar with it and getting more comfortable on the Yamaha. It’s not a bike I’ve ever ridden before. I’m completely new to the whole Yamaha thing this week. I’ve maybe spent 20 minutes on one a few years ago before. It’s a completely new bike, so I just have to get some seat time on it and it will get better and better from there.

So after you get some more time in on the bike, where would you like to be at in Daytona?
I don’t really like to put numbers on it. I just like to go out there and do my best and go as fast as I can. We were top ten this week, so I’d like to ease in there a little bit further this coming week. – Jordan Roberts

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"From where we were five hours ago to where we are now—it’s leaps and bounds better. At least we have clear heads going into Daytona next week." - PJ Larsen
Simon Cudby photo

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