Interviews by Jason Weigandt and Steve Matthes
Ryan Dungey, Red Bull KTM, 5-1 for third overall in 450 Class
Kind of fought some areas. I was in third and then it spun around and I derailed my chain in the back, so the chain came off. Then I had to stop and put that back on. Lost a lot of time, a lot positions. Worked my way up to fifth. That was the best we could do. I thought it was good. It could have been a lot worse. It could have been a DNF but thankfully we were able to put it back on and it didn’t derail again. That’s what I was more nervous about, it derailing in the air or off the takeoff or something. But it was just a rock. Nobody’s fault. Just one of them deals. Second moto was much better with the win, and third overall. Not bad. We made some progress today. I think it was good. Got some good testing done this week, which helped. I think we’re moving forward.
Talk about what it was like battling with James Stewart in that second moto. There were quite a few passes. Your pass for the lead wasn’t dirty but it was an aggressive pass. You put it in on him.
It was kind of crazy just everybody being there today. It didn’t seem like things spread out. I don’t know if it was because it was cool or whatnot. Everybody seemed to be going good. I saw that from practice. Practice times were really close. I was a little bit off, actually. I was eighth going into the first moto for my gate pick. But with James it wasn’t intentional. I tried to set him up so I went underneath him. And in that left-over I went to go underneath and he turned down really hard. We didn’t crash. I apologized. ‘Hey man, it wasn’t intentional.’ And he wouldn’t ride like that. But I had to get by and then he ended up getting me back. So I had to make a different approach and was able to make the pass stick the second time, so it was good.
First moto did you see Villopoto crash or did you see him down? What were you thinking of your opportunity there?
I did. I was side-by-side with him. When we went off the takeoff it looked like something was fishy and then he tucked his front. I just didn’t see him then after that. But I figured he went down. It looked like a nasty one when you catch your foot like that. I did that at Budds Creek and it hurt. But he got up and he was right behind me at the end of the moto in the first one. He had his day cut out for him in that first one. – Jason Weigandt
"It could have been a DNF but thankfully we were able to put it back on and it didn’t derail again. That’s what I was more nervous about, it derailing in the air or off the takeoff or something." - Ryan Dungey
Simon Cudby photo
Jason Anderson, Rockstar Energy Racing, 3-5 for third overall in 250 Class
Had a good first moto. I think starts helped me get on the podium. I think I’ve been there all year, just getting a start definitely help me get on the box.
Last week were in Washington out to dinner your whole team said Jason Anderson’s breaking out this week. Said he’s one of the best riders. Is that a little motivation for you when you know all of those guys are so behind you?
My team is super behind me. They’ve been there since day one. Last week my second moto was kind of the stepping-stone. I knew if I had some good starts I could run up front. I ended up doing that the first moto. The second moto I did have a so-so start but came through the pack and ended up fifth and got me on the box.
How frustrating has it been to get fourths and you’re like sixth in points? It’s like you’re always one spot away from top five or top three. And how big a break there is going forward to finally get it?
It’s super frustrating, but at the same time I’m just trying to develop and learn how to race with those guys. This is the first year I’ve really been up there with them, more consistently than I have in years past. I’m just trying to make those notches to get there and hopefully be a title contender within next year and hopefully put my team up there and show them how good we are. – Jason Weigandt
Eli Tomac, GEICO Honda, 1-1 for first overall in 250 Class
I was really wanting to get the red plate this week. I would have been happy to come out here with a 2-point lead or 1-point or 3-point, whatever it may have been. It’s just one of those things that happens in our sport. It is a bummer to see a competitor go down like that, but luckily he came back for the second moto and we had a good battle.
You talk about the second moto. When you get done with the first moto and you come back in there and they tell you that he didn’t finish, and I’m sure you figured it out. Knowing what’s left of the year, did you start thinking now I have to really play it cautious? Because the second moto you threw a little caution to the wind again and were really charging.
You can always think about the points but with so many races to go it can always happen to you. So you never count your chickens before they hatch. It’s happened to me a couple times in Supercross where I’ve been in the points lead and kind of threw it away here or there. It’s just something hopefully I get better at, maintaining a points lead and hoping that will come with experience.
You had a lot going on coming into this. You were working on a team deal for next year. Some people thought you might even race a 450. Is part of the reason you’re striving now because that’s all behind you? Your deal’s set, you know what class you’re racing, etc. Has that helped?
Totally. Getting a 450 deal done is awesome just because it’s job security. Knowing that’s behind you, all set and ready to go, I’m on the GEICO so that’s going to be an easy transition. I think it was a good decision to stay 250. I’m still learning a lot of things before I … I think I am ready to make that step up into the premier class.
Address the coolness of the temperature as a rider. Does it affect the way you set your bike up or the way the bikes might ride compared to the hotter temperatures? Also, second straight win at Spring Creek. It seems like you’re getting a feel for this place.
Yeah, the past three years I’ve been here it’s been probably one of the hottest rounds. It’s more like a sauna here that can basically melt you. This year it was the exact opposite. The first moto I actually thought I wasn’t quite warmed up enough. I felt kind of funky. I did make my way through the pack but it just didn’t feel like I was really being myself. I’ll take a cool round for sure because I know we’ll have plenty of hot races in our future.
I was able to make up time in the sand rollers. Maybe not make all of my passes but that’s where I’d make most of my time. Then I was making good passes on the second downhill. It’s like a tabletop into a step-down. That’s where I made over 50 percent of my passes. I never was balled up during the race where I was like, ‘man, I can’t get around this guy.’ It seemed like it was a good track for making moves.
Obviously you have one of the more full teams here. Quite a few of the guys are out there. Wil Hahn since he’s come back has pulled almost every holeshot. What’s the difference? Is he just a smaller guy and a little lighter? You guys are pretty much on the same bike, right?
We are. For me and moto wins, I’m telling myself, I can go out there and win motos. It’s just part of confidence. And Wil’s like, “man, I can go out there and holeshot every moto.” So once you get rolling those things just come easier and easier. – Jason Weigandt
Marvin Musquin, Red Bull KTM, 4-4 for second overall in 250 Class
"I was really wanting to get the red plate this week. I would have been happy to come out here with a 2-point lead or 1-point or 3-point, whatever it may have been." - Eli Tomac
Simon Cudby photo
Things certainly got topsy-turvy in the 250 Class. What was your take on this afternoon?
For sure it was a rough day but ended up second overall, which I was surprised a little bit because I ended up two times fourth in the motos. Sounds weird to get second overall, but I take it. Like I said, rough day. I crashed in press day on Thursday and hit my head a little bit and my shoulder. So I was really sore on my shoulder and my back and my neck. But I still tried my best. It was a good day overall. The track was really nice and I love here. It’s a little bit sandy. It was kind of slippery but a good track. I had fun. – Jason Weigandt
Jake Weimer, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 9-9 for ninth overall in 450 Class
Good day but pretty uneventful. You kind of rode by yourself a lot and just sort of rode around. But you still went fast.
That’s debatable. I guess it was two motos, no crashes, inside the top ten. I guess I’m in a bit of a rebuilding stage. You take what you can get right now. After a great weekend, last weekend at Washougal, I was hoping for a little more than that but nevertheless you just keep going and keep trying I guess. I wouldn’t say my day was just absolutely terrible but there was nothing special about it. It was just real quiet and I struggled a little bit, never could really find a good pace. That was it.
Where did you feel you struggled at on the track? It was prepped a little differently from years past.
I was pretty bad in the braking bumps. I just was struggling and felt like I was bouncing around a lot. I was trying to kind of move around and find lines and couldn’t. It was just a little bit of a struggle. – Steve Matthes
Ryan Villopoto, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 6-4 for fifth overall in 450 Class
Here’s the positive: you crashed three or four times today and you only lost eight points. I guess it could have been a lot worse.
It wasn’t very good but we salvaged a lot. Had a pretty big crash that first moto.
Yeah, you did!
I haven’t seen it yet.
I saw it on video. You got lucky.
All in all it was decent. Coming back and Dungey only finished right in front of me, so it wasn’t too bad. Could have been better the second moto but the track was tough and I was a little bit off after the crash.
So the first moto kind of affected you maybe the rest of the day?
I’m going to go ahead and say maybe a little bit, but no excuses here. – Steve Matthes
Phil Nicoletti, N-Fab TiLUBE Yamaha, 32-11 for seventeenth overall in 450 Class
"I guess it was two motos, no crashes, inside the top ten. I guess I’m in a bit of a rebuilding stage." - Jake Weimer
Simon Cudby photo
Crash first turn. You limped off. Thought you’d be done, but oh no. Came in, put in a strong second moto.
I had an awesome start in the first moto and then there’s really nowhere to go in the first corner here at Millville.
Honestly I think I was the cause of it. Stewy came in and just ruined me and somehow my leg got caught in his rear wheel and he double clutched and I just popped my groin. It hurt. Got going and yeah, sorry to everybody else, but it was definitely my fault. Second moto went out, stalked Shorty and Weimer for a while. It was the full-blown moto. So it was really good. Then I got into 10th. Mookie wadded it in the whoops and I was all pumped and then a lapper cut me off and hit my front wheel and I fell. Tickle got by me. I was happy, not happy. Lost my mind after the finish line. Wanted to kill the guy, but hey, I guess it’s racing.
You were maybe once that guy.
I’m good with the blue flags. Homeboy was just killing me. It was good. I was still happy to overcome what happened. I’m just bummed I had to leave this race with the break and everything. I was hoping to leave on a high note. – Steve Matthes
Ben LaMay, Rock River Yamaha, 16-14 for fourteenth overall in 450 Class
Every time I notice you, you’re kind of by yourself, not in a huge battle, but at the end of the day it was two good motos for you.
Yeah, this day was pretty easy I guess you could say. I didn’t really have that big of battles. First moto was a little bit tougher. I had some battles towards the end. But it was a solid day. I went 16-14. Track was pretty basic I guess, besides the whoops. You didn’t get tired anywhere but the whoops. Every time you came around your arms tightened up and then you kind of butt-pucker a little bit every time you get a little swamp, but it was a good day.
I was surprised because usually it’s kind of like RedBud; it gets deep and good ruts and some big bumps. But in the switch backs it was pretty hard packed, so you kind of had to get some throttle control. But it got choppy and still got pretty rough. It was a good day. – Steve Matthes
Andrew Short, BTOSports.com KTM, 7-8 for sixth overall in 450 Class
Your starts are hot and cold. They weren’t bad in the second moto but they’ve been hot and cold.
Second moto I actually came around the first turn in third and went back pretty quick. JG had a big one in the whoops. I was trying to dodge him so I went back pretty quick. Second moto I definitely could have been a little more aggressive but finished strong. I tried to catch Reedy there at the end. I felt like today was pretty good. I was 7-8 for sixth I think. Good day.
Yeah, Weimer was about to get me. I was pissed. I didn’t know if it was him or Rattray and I actually stepped it back up. So I was pretty excited and kind of dropped those guys at the end. Tried to catch Reedy who’s getting better obviously as the season goes on. So I felt like it was a decent day and I’m glad I hung tough the second one. - Steve Matthes
"Of course it’s disappointing. I wanted to keep the red plate. But still I’m going to keep fighting." - Ken Roczen
Simon Cudby photo
Ken Roczen, Red Bull KTM, 35-2 for ninth overall in 250 Class
I guess the bad is the crash and the DNF, but lots of fight back in the second moto. You did what you could. That’s kind of impressive.
It’s all right. The whole Saturday, I already went down big in that second practice in the whoops. I caught a rut or something and it just lifted my legs off the pegs and crashed there. I was lucky enough to not hurt or anything. In that first moto I was actually feeling pretty good. I passed a few guys and I was about to pass Wil Hahn and my front end just tucked. I don’t know. It happened so quick I don’t even ...
It was a weird crash.
I actually fell on my back and my head hurt a little bit but right now it’s more my sternum. I’m super sore in my chest right now. Of course it’s disappointing. I wanted to keep the red plate. But still I’m going to keep fighting. Things can happen to him, too. I don’t want that but I just to keep doing what I’m doing and put in a hard fight. Also that second moto I just struggled a little bit with arm pump. I was just riding tight. There was not that much I could do.
Any thoughts about sitting out the second moto or did you just kind of grit it?
No, not at all. It rang my bell pretty good and knocked the wind out of me. I rode out in the first one and then just got ready for the second one.
Like you said, like Pourcel, Trey Canard, anything can happen. There’s still six motos left and lots of racing.
Exactly. I’m going to train hard now. It’s good motivation. At this point I have nothing to lose so I’m going to go all out. I don’t want to go crazy and make something sketchy, but I think I can push as hard as I can.
I think you can’t tell by the points. I had some good weekends and he had some bad weekends where he just finished fifth or something. I think anything can happen. I’m just going to put my head and hope for the best. – Steve Matthes
Jeremy Albrecht, JGR Yamaha team manager
First motos were good for your guys. Brayton came from the back. Second moto though, terrible. It’s racing.
The second moto definitely wasn’t what anybody wanted. The highlights of today, the starts were great for both guys. Grant rode well the first one. Brayton rode okay the first one. Not what he needed to either. And the second one Grant was third place off the start, moving into second on the first lap there and hit a soft spot or something and just crashed really bad. So tried to get going again, seeing stars, so pulled her in. And then Brayton actually was riding great the second one. He started maybe 10th or 11th, moved up to sixth. I was all pumped. And then he crashed in the sand, too. So I guess we need to get rid of the sand for next year!
He crashed at the end of the sand whoops because he went by me hauling ass and next thing you know he at the corner somewhere crashed.
He kind of swapped or something back there. But that’s racing. Obviously both guys are trying hard enough to crash so that’s not a bad thing. – Steve Matthes