Interviews by Jason Weigandt and Chase Stallo
Ryan Villopoto, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 1st in 450SX
We had to race the entire 20 laps. James [Stewart] rode really well and ended up tipping over. Then Ryan [Dungey] was right there. It seemed like he had a good line over there toward the off-camber but I knew that as soon as I went outside he was going to go to the inside and try that line. So I just tried to be consistent, take the same line, and try to just make that line work and be fast.
In the past up until St. Louis you were talking about the dirt. How is it here?
It was good. It seemed like it had a combination of both -- very slippery in some spots but then kind of got marsh mellowed out in the rhythm sections that you would hit really hard.
It caught a lot of guys.
The whoops were gnarly. The off-camber had a huge rut on the inside. That whole rhythm section was just like mushroomed out in the ruts and stuff. You had to be on your toes.
You’ve really clicked these last few rounds. What’s different for you?
It’s coming down to crunch time and we’ve got to make things happen. I was able to get the red plate back at Daytona, get the points lead there. Just try to maintain on it. It’s still quite a few points and races left that we have to try to get out there and get as many points as we can.
You have a week off coming after this next one. Are you kind of looking forward to that?
Yeah. We’ll be able to regroup, get some outdoor riding in. It never stops.
When Dungey was close were you marking him back there? Did you know where he was or were you just doing your own thing?
I was trying to just stay calm, just hit my lines and try to make those lines quick. Like I said, it seemed like he was quick taking a different line on the off-camber. By me jumping over the table top and him getting onto it he was able to get up really close to me but I had the inside. And I knew that as soon as I went outside I think he was going to try to go to the inside. So I just tried to make my lines that I was taking be fast.
You had a moment where Sipes fell down on the inside of that off-camber, Dungey closed back in. Take me through that.
I had to get out of that rut. I don’t know what Ryan did at that point. I’m assuming he went outside and doubled off like he was. Which obviously made it slow, but I knew that by going inside there it put me on the inside down for this next turn, so just kind of guarding inside the whole way. Even though it might have been a little slower, I didn’t think there was any way he was going to go around me.
Was there still some speed in reserve there? He was pressuring pretty hard.
He was riding well. For me, I think I felt fine but the track wasn’t there. I think to really go on this track, we were on the limit. The whoops, they were short but we had one line down the center. I saw [Blake] Wharton crash there on the very last lap. So getting out of that line was a little bit sketchy. You really don’t know what you’re going to get when you try to go out of your main line here. – Jason Weigandt
"It’s coming down to crunch time and we’ve got to make things happen. I was able to get the red plate back at Daytona, get the points lead there. Just try to maintain on it." - RV
Andrew Fredrickson photo
Ryan Dungey, Red Bull KTM, 2nd in 450SX
The start was pretty good. I actually was right there dead even with everybody. Almost was a little bit behind Chad [Reed] and got boxed up but I was able to kind of, once the bike got going and the RPMs got up, I was able to kind of sneak under his bars and elbows. Kind of squeaked in there, came into the first turn pretty hot, and pushed out and was about 3rd. I kind of went back to 4th or 5th there. I was behind Villopoto and he kind of ran up through the pack. He made a pass and I would make the pass. And then we got up into 2nd and 3rd and then Stewy had a little tip-over. Once we got by him, it was just an all-out effort throughout the whole race. We were pushing the pace pretty good. I was hoping to either force him into a mistake or make the pass, one of the two, but I just couldn’t get close enough to make it. All in all I think it was a good night. We struggled in the beginning actually with bike setup. Once we made a few changes with the shock… going into the third practice things were really good. I think we made one change after that and the more time I got on it the more comfortable I was.
Villopoto said he was about on the limit of what he could do. The intensity was up there.
We were pushing the envelope pretty good, I think. I could see by his riding style he was going as hard as he could. As the later laps came around you could kind of see the fatigue starting to set in. I was feeling it, too. We’re pushing it pretty hard and if we could go more, then we would. It was unfortunate. I had a hay bale get kicked out on me right before the finish line and lost a little bit of time. But it was a good race. It was a good step forward. We could have done a little bit better but just really focus on the positives and keep moving ahead.
The last couple weeks, Daytona and here, the intensity has been really up there.
Yeah. Well, Daytona, was a whole ‘nother intensity deal. That track was so rough that strength-wise trying to muscle it around and keep the bike in shape… and it was a 27-minute moto, too, so that really added the physical fitness side.
That outside line that you were using in that rhythm, take us through that.
The line was better; it definitely was making up time. But I never got close enough. We’d always come to it and I knew, damn, I’m not close enough to get him through the rhythm lane. As the race went on, it actually got kind of more hooked and pushed up, but actually it was still faster than going inside that roller. So I kept at it. Went inside a few times. It was good though because it was kind of that cat and mouse and he would pull away on the other side of the track, and then it was like that whole rhythm lane I would swallow him back up. Looking back it would have been nice if I could have just thrown a good one in there and just been on his tail, but I never was. Wasn’t able to make the pass.
I saw one lap you went inside. Did you just want to see what the inside was like, or was that a mistake?
At one point I was kind of searching. We were in the same line I think for ten laps in a row…I was just like, I got to do something different. And that’s what kind of made the passing point of it hard, too, because it was like unless he did make a mistake, it was going to be hard to pass him because I was riding all the same lines. So the only really big area that I could have made the pass was that off-camber and then going across the start, at that little point. But you learn. Next time we’ll try to be right there and make that pass happen. – Jason Weigandt
"We were pushing the envelope pretty good, I think. I could see by his riding style he was going as hard as he could." - Ryan Dungey
Simon Cudby photo
Kyle Peters, AG Motorsports, 2nd in 250SX
Career night, how does it feel?
I’m so stoked right now. I’m so happy for the whole team, my dad, my whole family. This was a long time coming. Last year was so rough, so I’m really stoked right now.
We’ve talked a lot about how tough last year was for you in regards to injuries. How good does it feel now to have battled back and proven that you’re a top five guy?
Everyone definitely doubted me after last year. I was hurt a lot last year, so to come back this year and do as well as I have is awesome.
Where was your heart rate at those last couple laps?
Oh, it was about two hundred [laughs]. Definitely had arm pump pretty bad, especially when [Marvin] Musquin was catching me. I was trying to hold him off, but finally I was like ‘Okay, go ahead and go.’
Musquin was on a tear. When he came up on you, what was your strategy? Did you have anything in mind?
I was going to try and ride as hard as I could, but I wasn’t going to push it over my head. I knew I was in second when he was behind me. I tried to stay with him a little bit to see where his pace was… he’s a bad dude for sure.
What does this do for your confidence going forward?
You know, it’s awesome. I’ll go back to MTF and keep training and go to Toronto. It doesn’t really change anything, other than being happy for a few days. – Chase Stallo
"I’ll go back to MTF and keep training and go to Toronto. It doesn’t really change anything, other than being happy for a few days." - Kyle Peters
Simon Cudby photo
Davi Millsaps, Rockstar Energy Racing, 4th in 450SX
After a couple rough weeks, that was not a bad race.
It’s definitely better than the last two weekends but still not where I need to be, and still not where I should be. I started out front and rode tight and just kind of went backwards. But go home and regroup and refocus and just go into it like we did the beginning of the season. I don’t need to work harder, I just need to refocus, I think.
I heard rumors of a tweaked knee in a crash in the mid-week?
Yeah. I did it before Daytona, but I was fine tonight. It didn’t bother me one bit. It did all day in practice but in the heat races your adrenaline’s going so you don’t really feel it. I’m good with my knee. Just obviously not riding the last couple weeks because of it didn’t really help either, especially having to do that pace. You can’t miss a beat during the week and expect to be up there every single weekend. So go back, and get back after it.
Adrenaline does do some amazing things sometimes.
It’s pretty crazy, but adrenaline can’t help arm pump. If it did it’d never get it.
So is that what you were dealing with?
Yeah. I’ll admit it; I was. I had arm pump. Like I said, you can’t miss a beat during the week and expect to go that pace the whole time. I could have done it at the beginning of the season because I rode every single day, I was very consistent. Good thing is I got a good start again, but I need to get back after it with my riding. Since my knee feels good now I’ll get back on my program and we should be good.
You’ve got to feel good about the speed, though. The first couple laps, maybe before the arm pump came in, you were battling with those guys and going back and forth.
Yeah. I think that was the problem, the fact that I was just worried about them and not worried about myself. I knew I was starting to ride tight and I was trying not to, but nothing I could do about it. Pretty much once I got it, it just got worse and worse and worse. I hung in there but last lap got me. There’s six rounds left and I’m going to go back and do the best I can to get it back. – Jason Weigandt
"I’m good with my knee. Just obviously not riding the last couple weeks because of it didn’t really help either, especially having to do that pace." - Davi Millsaps
Simon Cudby photo
Justin Barcia, Team Honda Muscle Milk, 5th in 450SX
How was it? You don’t seem stoked.
No, I was really bummed out today. It was an extremely tough track, very hard to pass. That’s it. Very hard to pass was the main thing today. Man, I didn’t get a holeshot. That would have made my night a lot better. The guys that get out front first and hang in there are usually there at the end. It was definitely tough. Heat race was going back and forth, guys trying different lines. It’s like you would go outside and get passed by someone else trying to pass someone. It was really tough.
What happened with you and Trey in the air? Did you touch in the air or on the landing?
No. I don’t know what happened. All I know is I saw his bike come whizzing by me. I know a got a good drive up to the finish and I saw him next to me. Then all of a sudden I saw his bike. We didn’t touch or nothing but it was definitely scary. – Jason Weigandt
Wil Hahn, GEICO Honda, 3rd in 250SX
"No, I was really bummed out today. It was an extremely tough track, very hard to pass. That’s it." - Justin Barcia
Simon Cudby photo
That was a crazy one. No doubt about it.
It was, man. All night. I rode a nose wheelie in the heat though the whoops, went off the track. I was a straight mess.
Was it the track?
No. Okay, so in practice the whoops were pretty beat down and we could jump in, jump out. In the heat, in my mind, third lap, I suddenly thought it was the same as practice. It clearly was not. Had a really scary moment there. Pulled her in, did some Endurocross off the side of the track, got back on, regrouped. Wow. Man, that main was… I literally stopped in the first turn. Tuff blocks are out. I was scared to wheelie them because I didn’t want to go down. Then I look over and it’s Marvin right beside. I’m like, well, I guess I’ll be okay. But, man I rode like crap. No doubt about that. I rode like crap in the main. To get a third after riding that bad, I’m happy.
How can you even tell how you’re riding when there’s got to be traffic and riders everywhere? You still just didn’t feel it?
I was riding defensive, and that’s not how I am. That bums me out when I ride like that. But the result doesn’t. So from coming this far back as I was the first lap, I’ll take it.
You had a little adversity while also holding the points lead. Was that a learning experience?
Yeah. I think so. Every weekend for me has been a learning experience with this, because I’ve never had the points lead. I haven’t started that far back all year. I’ve been getting good starts. So I guess I needed to do it. I’m glad it’s over. I don’t want to do that again! – Jason Weigandt
"Every weekend for me has been a learning experience with this, because I’ve never had the points lead." - Wil Hahn
Simon Cudby photo
Andrew Short, BTOSports.com KTM, 7th in 450SX
Good race tonight.
Yeah, thanks. I was stoked on the main. I got a good start, wasn’t all the way up front, but that KTM gets off the gate really good, which is one of the best attributes that it has. I had a good ten laps. At one point I was as high as fourth and then ended up seventh and compared to coming off a crummy race in Daytona I’m pretty happy to kind of be in the spot I was before and making improvements.
How is the adjustment to the KTM coming along? Are you getting more and more comfortable?
Yeah, I feel more comfortable. I wanted it to come quicker than it did and I honestly thought it would be easier than what it was. It’s been tough and there are a few things that were easy and some that were tough. The bike starts really well, which puts me in a great position. This week I stayed there for ten laps, so hopefully I can stay there longer next week and just keep building.
What are some of the things you are working on, trying to adjust to?
Just being comfortable on the bike. Like I said, today I was good for ten laps and then after that the bike was more riding me. I don’t know exactly what it’s going to do in certain situations and tonight the track was changing quite a bit. So you definitely had to search around and switch up your lines and be smart as well. Some of the things I’m trying to work on is just getting a lot of seat time in different conditions and expose myself to different obstacles to see how the bike is going to react so that it becomes more second nature to me. – Chase Stallo
"Yeah, I feel more comfortable. I wanted it to come quicker than it did and I honestly thought it would be easier than what it was." - Andrew Short
Andrew Fredrickson photo
Matt Goerke, BTOSports.com KTM, 8th in 450SX
How was the night?
It was good. I got a great start and made a couple mistakes early and got passed by a couple of people. After five or six laps I picked it up and was right there behind Andrew [Short] and [Justin] Barcia, I think. I tried to go wide in that rhythm and hit a kicker and kind of endoed into that and then fell into that off-camber. I hurt my wrist a little, but I broke some spokes and I got up real quick and my wheel was wobbling the whole time. I keep looking at it and I didn’t know what was wrong. Then when I pulled off I had broken like six spokes, so thank the Lord that I didn’t break my front wheel. So, I’m pretty pumped that I still finished eighth. Once I got going [after the crash], I think I had [Eli] Tomac behind me, and I still stayed strong. I tried to just flow, and I really felt good and luckily my wheel stayed together. So, definitely happy with an eighth tonight.
How is the wrist? Do you think you’ll be good to go next week?
Yeah, it’s fine. I wear those wrist braces so it stopped it. I’ll be good to go next week. – Chase Stallo
Justin Brayton, Toyota/JGR Yamaha, 13th in 450SX
"Then when I pulled off I had broken like six spokes, so thank the Lord that I didn’t break my front wheel. So, I’m pretty pumped that I still finished eighth." - Matt Goerke
Andrew Fredrickson photo
How did it go tonight?
Not very good, actually. I had an okay start and then stalled the bike and came back to around 13th and that’s pretty much where I ended up. It’s really frustrating but I’ll turn it around.
Track tonight was pretty tough.
Yeah, it was. Very rutty and technical. It eventually turned into a one-lined track, but it was very technical. You definitely had to think out there.
Anything specific you’re trying to work on going forward?
I just have to get faster. It’s on me. I just have to turn it up. – Chase Stallo
"I just have to get faster. It’s on me. I just have to turn it up." - Justin Brayton
Andrew Fredrickson photo
PJ Larsen, Eleven10 Mods Yamaha, 10th in 250SX
How are adjusting to the Yamaha?
Yeah, I’m slowly getting use to it. It’s tough, because at the moment I don’t have a practice bike. We’re working on that, and hopefully I’ll have one this week before Toronto. It’s been a week-to-week deal. I show up to the races and race on the weekend and don’t ride during the week [laughs]. So it’s been a mission. I’m getting better and better throughout the day at the races. I’m happy, but then I’m also upset at the same time because I know I can do a lot better, it’s just a matter of everything falling into place and putting the work in.
The track looked tough tonight.
I thought the track was really kind of simple. You could double through the rhythms almost as fast you could triple. It was rutty and technical in that aspect and there were a lot of guys crashing and I saw Canard had a pretty big one with his teammate. But I think that was because all the ruts and stuff were throwing people off. – Chase Stallo
"I'm getting better and better throughout the day at the races. I’m happy, but then I’m also upset at the same time because I know I can do a lot better..." - PJ Larsen
Andrew Fredrickson photo