By Jason Weigandt, Steve Matthes and Jordan Roberts
Jason Anderson, Rockstar Energy KTM, 1st in 250SX
You want to just say the exact same things you said last week? It seemed like the same exact race. I don’t know if it felt that way but it looked that way.
It definitely felt like the same race. I’m pumped. I guess I kind of got passed by him in the beginning again, too. It was just super bundled up there. My starts have been on point. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing. I know my fitness is there, and I’m fast. I think I’ve got everything going for me. I’d like to lead a race the whole way through, but I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. It’s working.
Did last week kind of help a little bit? He’d get a second or two lead on you, but did that help you say, “Okay wait, I know I can handle this; I handled it before.”
Yeah, he had his spots on the track, I had my spots on the track. Same like last week. Keep stretching out and then keep coming back in. I knew I could make a surge at the end. I actually missed that one rhythm section with like three laps to go and I made the surge with like three laps to go, after that. I was a little bit nervous but I made it happen again.
Tell me about the pass. Was the door open or did you have to make it happen?
No, he had a different line going in and I had a line where I could kind of carve and jump to the inside. It kind of was there, it kind of wasn’t there. But I made it happen.
So obviously it’s no different being the points leader, carrying the red plate? It didn’t seem to affect you at all.
No, that’s how I’m going to be all year. I’m going to approach the situations like I did A1, like I did tonight, and I’m going to do the same thing next weekend. If the win is there I’m going to take it. If a second place is there I’ll take that too. I’m just hoping to be up front when the season’s over.
You’re working with Jeff Ward now. Explain that a little bit. What’s he doing for you?
I’ve got Coach Seiji on my side helping me with my fitness stuff and he gives me a program, but he’s not with me every day. Jeff’s there with me every day. He goes to the gym with me, does my whole schedule with me. He’s just in it. He’s my guy. He’s kind of my baby-sitter I guess you could say. He does all my stuff with me. He keeps me on point.
Is he still gnarly?
On a road bike he’s still a gnarly dude. And he’s 52! -– Jason Weigandt
"Couple mistakes kind of set us back there a little bit and then at the end we lost some ground on the two leaders. Just was unable to make a pass." - Ryan Dungey
Simon Cudby photo
Ryan Dungey, Red Bull KTM, 3rd in 450SX
How’d it go?
Not too bad. Today we had some good starts, bike felt pretty good. The first lap of the main event kind of caught me off guard. Track was super slick, more so than I thought it was going to be. But all in all we got some good laps in. Couple mistakes kind of set us back there a little bit and then at the end we lost some ground on the two leaders. Just was unable to make a pass.
Because of the slickness was it hard to be consistent? It seemed like you guys were going back and forth, up and down.
That was the main thing. I’d get through the whoops good once, I wouldn’t, I would, I wouldn’t. So as we got going through I just kept on the guys’ wheels. We were all there, one, two, three. And then going forward from that I think a lapper got in the way and I was unable to do this rhythm and I lost a lot of time on Brayton and Villo. I spent the last two laps playing catch-up and just settled for third. -– Jason Weigandt
Ken Roczen, Red Bull KTM, 6th in 450SX
How’d it go? It was pretty crazy for a few laps there.
I’m going to start off with Thursday. I must have eaten something bad or something. Threw up all Thursday and I fainted in our bathroom! It was unreal… feeling so bad. And then Friday everything hurts. Not feeling it at all. This morning was a lot better already. I wouldn’t say I was 100 percent all day. I was kind of tired and couldn’t really flow. In the main I grabbed a good start, was right in there. I think it was a sick race with everyone, super fun. Then freaking [Justin] Barcia took me out. He’s going to get that back. I was so mad.
Yeah he got your front wheel.
So mad. Until that it was a good race. After that it took me a while to get back in it a little bit. My clutch was really far down bent and I had to pass Shorty. Then the last five laps again I think I could push and close in on Barcia a little. Felt super fit toward the end. Felt like I could have still pushed, didn’t get tired. So that was good. I was pretty happy with the bike this weekend. Track was super sketchy I thought. It was so hard and slick. People say last week was sketchy; I think that was 10 times worse. So I’m just glad to get out of here safe. I’m really happy with my riding and my performance and my fitness.-– Jason Weigandt
"I’m not unhappy with the podium, I’m thankful for the podium, but I want to win one and I know I can do it." - Zach Osborne
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Zach Osborne, GEICO Honda, 3rd in 250SX
Tonight was a little bit of a struggle from the start for me—it was a good night. I’m not unhappy with the podium, I’m thankful for the podium, but I want to win one and I know I can do it. I just need to get out there in the beginning and make it happen.
There’s no doubting Seely and Anderson are on another level—or are they? What will it take to get up there?
Well when they have 15-20 seconds on you by the time you get into third there’s not much you can do with that. Timed practice, the four of us are within a couple tenths, so it’s going to take you a week to make up that much time if you’re only making up a couple of tenths. I need to get off the start better—my speed is there and my fitness is there. I’m getting good jumps, but if I didn’t let off tonight I would have been down for sure—I was bar locked with like three guys. I feel good about my podium, I feel good about what I have going on. This is the best I’ve ever started any series—well, except GNCCs last year where I had two podiums! -– Steve Matthes
Broc Tickle, Soaring Eagle Casino/Dodge RCH Suzuki, 8th in 450SX
Let me start at the beginning of the day because it looked like something was special. You looked more relaxed, more comfortable. Did you feel that way?
Yeah, all day was pretty good. The main event was all right. I made it out of the heat race, which was good. My practice was better so there was some positive. I felt like I was more aggressive today and I felt comfortable being aggressive. We’re building my speed step by step but I think we’ll be there. It’s tough when you start at the back. I was 13th or 14th on the first lap, so it didn’t really help me. Then I got in there and tangled up with a bunch of guys. By the time I got into eighth those guys were gone. Really had nowhere to go but finish eighth. My speed was good in the main though, most of the time it was. I was pretty pumped on my speed there. Next week and this week try some stuff with the bike and just do starts. That’s the main focus right now. Look at Brayton. Brayton’s been good. He was good last weekend and was better than me, but this weekend he got a start and really did good. I think that’s a thing for me to look at and know that I can do it too.
It seems like, especially at the beginning of the year, there’s so many guys. It must be nuts the first couple laps if you’re not up front.
I was just with the wrong guys. I was with Vince Friese and he was cutting me off, cutting the guy off in front of me. It just caused me to get all worked up for no reason. Then basically when I got going it was too late, not unless I was doing two seconds a lap faster than the guy that was in seventh. -– Jason Weigandt
Andrew Short, BTOSports.com KTM, 7th in 450SX
Last week I think I was given a gift with a ninth. It wasn’t a ninth place ride considering the field. Today I felt good and the bike worked awesome. It was interesting to ride Pirellis on this hard pack, I’ve never really done that before, and they were good.
Seemed like you rode your own race?
It was perfect for me. I got a feel for the front pace, but I also got to ride by myself and put in laps. The track was typical Phoenix—hard pack, sketchy, and the whoops were really tough, but that’s okay because I think it helped separate everyone. -– Steve Matthes
"Next week and this week try some stuff with the bike and just do starts. That’s the main focus right now." - Broc Tickle.
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Matt Goerke, BTO Sports.com KTM, 15th in 450SX
How was the injury all day [broken finger]?
It was killing me all day! I was in pain all day—I’m pretty pumped that I finished, and finished 15th.
Did you think about pulling out at all?
Yeah, I was like, “Man this is getting bad.” But I knew I had 10 more laps, I should just go for it. I got one more position and finished. Now all I can do is go home in pain [Laughs].
What can you do at this point? Just wait and hope it heals?
Yeah, I got surgery on Wednesday, and I just checked and everything is still in place. I’m pumped on that. Hopefully I’ll feel better next week. -– Steve Matthes
Jake Weimer, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 18th in 450SX
Let’s focus on the good—you won a heat race.
Yeah that was good. Got a good start which makes it a lot easier—that was a solid race for me, can’t ask for much more right now. Practice was better than last week, too. Then in the main, I spun off the gate. It was a weird deal [with Tickle] I kind of squared up, he was coming in, I ended up on the ground. Then I crashed again, so… -- Steve Matthes
"I kicked off a Tuff Block a couple laps prior, and then when I jumped on it with three laps to go, it had been moved and it was a little bit further on the track. I hooked it and just got into an endo." - Justin Hill
Simon Cudby photo
Justin Hill, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 8th place in 250SX
So was tonight pretty good for you?
No, not so good. I felt strong all day. I had really fast times. I had the quickest time in my heat race. I came out and just kind of got caught up in the pack in the main, but still felt really good. I made a lot of passes and really got up into the mix. I was really tracking down the podium guys and thought I could get up on the box. I had been doing this triple up onto this tabletop all night. I kicked off a Tuff Block a couple laps prior, and then when I jumped on it with three laps to go, it had been moved and it was a little bit further on the track. I hooked it and just got into an endo. I really biffed it hard but I still got up. I think I got eighth. I rode it out, but I was disappointed.
Well it looked like you were feeling it up until then. Did you like the track?
It was a little tight, a little tricky, so I liked it. Like I said, I felt strong all day. I really, really felt like I could’ve been up on the box, but I got caught up in that stupid little mistake. We’ll regroup and come back strong. I just have to make sure my shoulder is all good for next weekend—put some ice on it and we’ll come back strong.
Are you going to take a couple days off to regroup now?
It’s possible. I’ll just wake up tomorrow and see how my shoulder feels. I hit the ground pretty hard, but we’ll just play it by ear. I want to put in every bit of work during the week, so I don’t want to take too much time off and ruin my fitness and become uncomfortable on the bike. I want to get back at it as soon as possible, but we’ll just play it by ear. -– Jordan Roberts