Open Mic: Minneapolis

Open Mic: Minneapolis

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By Jason Weigandt, Jordan Roberts and Chase Stallo

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

Normally when we see an early lead from you that’s kind of a kiss of death for everybody else. What was going on tonight?
Ryan [Dungey] was riding really well. I felt like I was riding good. Being in that position I didn’t really know where he was kind of good, what lines he was taking. He could obviously see my weak points and where I was quick, where I wasn’t, what lines I was taking… things like that. It made it tough to really understand where he was. I made a mistake with going into the inside over there after the triple. I thought he was going inside on that option section. I think a few times he did, but was mainly going outside. I screwed that up. That was a big mistake. And then also in the whoops here. When I ended up getting him back right here, I set myself on the right side of the whoops and I couldn’t get back to the left. I could have maybe swung it in and kept him from getting around me right here before the mechanics area but then in that next turn after I’d seen a lot of aggressive passes made and I didn’t want to leave myself out to dry, or have something critical happen there. So I opted to, I don’t want to say let him by, but he would have got me in the next turn, anyway. So I didn’t want to mess up out there to put myself in a position to where I possibly could have gone down.

That’s probably one of the longer side-by-side battles that we’ve seen in a long time.
Yeah, it was good. He was riding really well. I felt good on most of the track, but I would say this track I struggled on a little bit all day. Just trying to find a fast groove. I think he rode well. I stayed up there as long as I could. It was tough. In this situation being where he was, behind me, I think it was a benefit to him to see where I was, my lines, and things like that. But it’s three rounds to go now. We’re going to Seattle, my hometown. So hopefully the crowd will be as much into it as they were here.

That’s about as loud as I’ve heard a crowd in a long time.
Yeah, it was pretty insane. I guess I was on the wrong side of the fence this time!

When it gets that loud can you hear the bike?
It was really loud. It was good. We put on a good show for the fans. He came out on top and I think it made for a good night.

With a points lead like that you don’t really have to push it.
I want to win, and yeah, I can finish top three the rest of the races and seal this thing up. But the goal is to keep winning. For sure, second is a great ride tonight, great position. Obviously worse things could happen. But leading as many laps as I led and getting passed it’s a bummer, but it’s not like the speed isn’t there. I have quite a few wins on the season, so I know that it can be done. – Jason Weigandt

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"I want to win, and yeah, I can finish top three the rest of the races and seal this thing up. But the goal is to keep winning." - Ryan Villopoto
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Davi Millsaps, Rockstar Energy Racing, 3rd in 450SX

Kind of a lonesome ride in third. Are you satisfied?
No, not really. Most everyone would be satisfied with third but I’m not. I didn’t have the speed all day. I didn’t have the comfortability all day. I had a lot of things that just weren’t going my way. But we’ll just go back and work on it. It’s nothing that I can’t fix, nothing that I can’t do. So we’ll make it happen.

We’re have three left. Does the intensity change at all?
Yeah, the aggressiveness and the pace is getting a lot faster. There are a lot of things that need to fall into place. You have to get a good start now. You can’t come from the back really at all. You just have to ride 20 perfect laps almost and be aggressive at doing it. There are some things that we’ve been working on that we need to get better and I think we’re taking the steps to do it, so hopefully we can get it done.

The track seemed pretty one-lined, not much separating the guys out there.
It was just little things here and there that would separate everybody. They just happened to do it and I wasn’t. Like I said, I didn’t feel comfortable doing a lot of the things that I normally am comfortable with doing. I just felt awful all day. Hopefully I won’t feel awful next week. – Chase Stallo

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"Most everyone would be satisfied with third but I’m not. I didn’t have the speed all day." - Davi Millsaps
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Wil Hahn, GEICO Honda, 2nd in 250SX

Five point lead going into the last round. What’s going through your head right now?
I’d like to have won tonight but I minimized everything I could and got out of here with, like you said, still a five-point lead. Just go into Vegas, just stick with the same game plan. Go get a start and let the cards fall how they’re going to fall. I want to leave there with the number-one plate.

What happened in your heat race tonight?
I made a mistake in the first turn and got together with another guy and ended up falling over. Just a minor deal, really. It wasn’t a big crash or nothing. I put myself in that position, so can’t do that again.

Well you pretty much came from last all the way up to the front of the pack.
Yeah, I can’t complain about the result. So not the greatest gate pic but someone left the inside gate open, which I was blown away. So got to be thankful for that and just move forward.

Take me through the battle early with [Blake] Wharton. You two slowed each other up quite a bit, a bit of the cat and mouse thing.
Yeah, but there were points where he put us both in danger, not just me. So I feel like he wasn’t really using his head out there. I’m all about aggressive racing, I have no problem with that. But when you endanger both of us, and we’re losing time on the leader, I feel like that’s a bad decision. But, hey, I’m going to put a smile on my face and walk away from it. – Jordan Roberts and Jason Weigandt

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"Just go into Vegas, just stick with the same game plan. Go get a start and let the cards fall how they’re going to fall." - Wil Hahn
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Andrew Short, BTO Sports KTM, 6th in 450SX

So you got third in your heat, sixth in the main. How’d tonight go for you?
Tonight was awesome. Minneapolis, I’ve had good success here in the past growing up early on professionally. I felt good. I don’t know why but the last couple weekends, Houston and this weekend, I feel really comfortable on the bike. I think the break gave me an opportunity to get comfortable with it and really adapted. We changed some linkage parts. I feel like I can turn better. So the combination of all that has really helped with the kind of late-season turnaround for me with the new bike.

It looks like you were able to get a little bit more aggressive on it, too.
Yeah, the power has never been a problem. For me, it’s just learning how the bike was going to handle and react to different situations. When you switch in the middle of the season it definitely isn’t ideal. So we’re making the most of it and I’m really happy that we’re finally making progress and racing where I should be racing. – Jordan Roberts

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"I feel really comfortable on the bike. I think the break gave me an opportunity to get comfortable with it and really adapted." - Andrew Short
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Tyler Bowers, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 5th in 250SX

How’d it go?
It was good. We worked on things this week. We worked on starts. We worked on more testing. Bones and Zach and everybody, we were out at the track. We put in the work this week. It was an improvement this weekend, the main event. The finish was a little bit worse but I think all in all it was an improvement. I’m feeling more confident on the bike. I’m feeling more confident out there in the race. We’ve got a couple weeks to go at it before Vegas, and I’m really excited for that. It’s a great opportunity to be a part of this team, and I can’t wait to put in the work these next couple weeks.

And the pass for third, take me through that.
My pass or the other pass?

Let’s do both. First, you made the pass for third.
I’m a little too nice out there. I came into the series late and I’m being respectful to the guys that are wherever in points. I’m not going to go ruffle any feathers. But now I’m over it. I made a respectful pass and going into another corner somebody [Blake Wharton] didn’t make a respectful pass. They had no intention of making the corner. And the best move I had was to pin it and hold on and hope I came out. And I didn’t come out! I almost had it. I ended up getting my arm clipped by Blake Wharton. I ended up going headfirst into the next jump. I almost saved it but not quite. I just recovered from there, bars bent. Just tried to ride the rest of the race. We’re hungry now, even hungrier. Last weekend I was really hungry because I just got a horrible start and was just pissed off for that. I came back to fourth. Now we’re going to put in more work and I’m not going to be so nice. – Jason Weigandt

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"I made a respectful pass and going into another corner somebody [Blake Wharton] didn’t make a respectful pass." - Tyler Bowers
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Trey Canard, Muscle Milk Honda, 7th in 450SX

How did it go today?
Not bad. It was a good day all around, I thought. I had a few things that were not so good. The heat race I broke my shifter off and was stuck in second the whole time, so that was kind of a challenge. I had a little tip-over in the main and the start wasn’t as great in the main as I kind of wanted, but I think that had a little bit to do with track position from fourth place in the heat race. But I thought it was a solid 20 laps. I wasn’t kind of in that lead pace but all in all I thought it was a good night.

You obviously gained something last weekend. Do you feel like that was still there, riding wise?
Yeah, I think so. I think I made positive steps this week again. I think it was good. Hopefully I can have a good week next week. It would be really neat to win one before the series ends. It’d be sweet. Just do our best and that’s all I can do. – Jason Weigandt

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"It was a good day all around, I thought." - Trey Canard
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Justin Barcia, Muscle Milk Honda, 4th in 450SX

How did it go?
It went okay. My starts have been very mediocre.

Your mechanic told me he had two starts built into that bike today but I haven’t seen it happening. You need some special sauce or something.
Yeah, I need some special sauce. You’re racing against the best people in the world and you don’t get to start with them, so then you need to be even better than the best guys in the world to catch them, and that’s a hard thing to do sometimes. So I’ve been fourth a lot lately. And it hurts. It stings.

Fourth is like the worst, too. Good ride but no podium.
I would rather be up front battling for the win and crash than get fourth every weekend, I think. I’ll go home tomorrow and fly a little plane with some people, and they’ll be like, what’d you get? “Fourth.” “You didn’t even get on the podium - you suck!” But racing against those guys, I’ll take a fourth, for sure, but I don’t like it. I think I know what the situation is with the starts and I think we can fix it this week. – Jason Weigandt

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"I would rather be up front battling for the win and crash than get fourth every weekend, I think." - Justin Barcia
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Josh Hill, Dodge/Sycuan RCH Suzuki, 8th in 450SX

There was some glory, man. A heat race win, running up front, good practice… There were some awesome moments.
Yeah, it was good. This is how I hoped I would do coming into the series at Anaheim 1. I was on the board when I crashed at Anaheim 1 and just it took me a while to get my confidence back up to where it was and rebuild myself and get that strength. I’m happy. It was good. Now I know what else I have to work on and just to continue working forward. I’ve worked this hard to go from ground zero to being able to race with the best in the world. Might as well keep working and see if I can beat the best in the world at some point here.

This is the first time you’ve seen the pace up front in a main in a long time, running second or third in the first couple laps. Is it crazy up there since you haven’t been there in three years?
It’s really not crazy. It’s actually a much more enjoyable ride than being in 12th because that seems crazy, when you’ve got 10 guys in front of you all trying to jump and hit the lines. It was actually really smooth. Those guys, they’re just smart up front. They know where to go and you leave just a small opening… if you’re not pulling away, and you’re leaving a small opening they’re going to get you. And Davi made a great pass on me. Kind of flustered me a little bit. I forget who was next. Me and Barcia had a nice little battle. It was great just racing with him. He was aggressive but clean; it made it fun.

It was a great feeling. It was cool. This whole night was good. The heat race win was awesome. That pass going from fourth to first in one corner, that was pretty sweet, too. I liked that.

Minnesota’s been good to you.
Yeah Minnesota’s always pretty good. I don’t know what it is. I like the dirt here. The people are nice, but other than that I don’t know what it is. It’s far from home. But I like it here.

Next week actually is a home race for you.
Yeah. Next week will be fun. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing, keep trying to push forward, and hopefully I can improve on my result in Seattle. My starts have been pretty decent. The last few weeks they’ve been getting a little better, so I just need to carry that over and at least get everybody up in Seattle yelling for a few minutes and see how long I can keep them yelling. – Jason Weigandt

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"This is how I hoped I would do coming into the series at Anaheim 1." - Josh Hill
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