Don’t Sleep on the Sophomore

Don’t Sleep on the Sophomore

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A year ago I was boarding a plane bound for Dallas, Texas, when I glanced to my left and noticed that Jeremy Martin and his father were seated in the row next to me. Together they were about to experience their lifelong dream of racing their first professional supercross event, and I was able to chat during the flight with the two Millville, Minnesota, residents about their expectations.

Jeremy replied that supercross was very new to him, but he felt comfortable doing the triple jumps, timing lanes and whoop sections at the practice tracks. “I feel like I can ride a supercross track pretty good, but I know racing on one is going to be a different challenge,” he said at the time. As it were, Martin had a rough go of it in Arlington and failed to make the main event. Refusing to let the misfortune deter his focus he rallied to post three consecutive top fives, including his first career podium at Daytona. A wrist injury ended his SX season early, but he bounced back in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship to earn more podiums and ultimately be named Pro Motocross Rookie of the Year.

This Saturday night the Yamalube Star Racing backed speedster returns to the venue where his supercross career got off to an inauspicious start. A year later he is one of the favorites for the title, and has certainly learned to race supercross. What hasn’t changed from the conversation I had with him a year ago is his humble, polite and soft-spoken delivery. We called up the 20-year-old rising star as he was completing his final steps of training at the facility famously known as “The Farm,” which is owned and operated by Ricky Carmichael and family.

Racer X: A year goes by pretty fast. Talk about how much you’ve changed as a racer since your last trip to Arlington.
Jeremy Martin: I would say I’ve changed in many ways. I’m more confident, plus I’ve learned to understand when it’s time to go fast and when it’s just time to stay in control. From last year to this year I learned a lot, but I didn’t really change much about my program and training. I’m thankful to have a great group of people around me. They’ve helped me find things that I enjoy with training and I just work hard on those things. It has helped a lot.

Martin is entering his sophomore supercross season. Photo: Steve Cox
Martin is entering his sophomore supercross season. Photo: Steve Cox

There has been a lot of positive hype about the new YZ250F. Your teammate [Cooper Webb] has been banging holeshots out West and is surprising people. How much has your new bike improved over last years?
Yeah, you know, I think it’s night and day better than last year’s bike. The thing is wicked fast and it handles and turns just great. We have KYB suspension and the EFI is awesome, but to be honest they had our bikes tuned so well last year that they never bogged during races. I think the EFI is the most noticeable change during the week. When I ride everyday, the engine is more consistent.

The 250 East is loaded with veterans and a couple highly-touted rookies. With a year under your belt, you kind of sit in the middle. Who do you consider your strongest competition?
You know, I think all of us are revved up from the long off-season and we’ve all been watching the West Coast races and I know they’re all ready to go. I don’t know how to answer that, I guess, but the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit guys are going to be tough, and GEICO Honda and there are a lot of guys to consider not just one in particular. I remember watching Blake Baggett win here (Cowboy Stadium) when I was still just an amateur rider.

Tell us about riding at The Farm down in Florida. Putting in laps with a champion like Ryan Dungey has to have helped you develop. Has he given you any special advice? Has Miss Jeannie been out there making you do corners?
I was able to ride a lot with Ryan in the off-season, but he’s been in California since A1 and I haven’t been able to ride with him much lately. But, yes, he does give me advice and we get along well. We worked hard together. My mechanic/riding coach Dillon Turner has been with me a long time from back home and he helps me out a lot. And yes sir, Meanie Jeannie is there cracking the whip and helping all the time. She’s even going to be in Dallas this weekend.

The opening round in Texas is going to be hard-packed, then we will see some softer soil at Atlanta and Daytona. Have you been working on setups for both, and do you feel more comfortable on one or the other?
The set up I have now suits everything, actually. We worked hard to find one that we could use everywhere, and Dallas will probably be hard-packed. If we need to change something it will be a minor click here or there with the suspension. There are times when the practice track gets hard and we rode on it a bunch like that, and a bunch when it was softer.

A little off topic, but the 250 West series has been wild. How do you think the East stacks up against the West? Is the East your preferred division?
You know, it’s hard to say. I hear a lot of people say one coast is better than the other, but I don’t know. It’s hard to say who the man is, and we (East Coast) haven’t raced yet, but we’ll find out in Las Vegas that’s for sure. As far as the East Coast goes, it’s perfect for me. I live here and love training at the Carmichael Farm and it works good for me. But still, if I had to race the West I would have been just as excited.

Can Martin pick up his first career win in Dallas? Photo: Steve Cox
Can Martin pick up his first career win in Dallas? Photo: Steve Cox

Who do you think will pull it off out West?
It’s pretty tight between Seely and Anderson, that’s for sure. I’ve been watching them duking it out and it is going to be close. The next couple of rounds will decide it after the break, but I can’t really say who will win.

Lastly, what are you expectations for the series and what is it going to take to win the championship?
To win the championship it’s going to take being solid every weekend—being on that podium, and racing with the front runners each round. I’m taking it race by race. Dallas is this weekend, and right now I’m focused on just getting things started off well. I think it’s going to be great, it has been an exciting supercross series so far and the fans are going to get to see 20 different riders that haven’t raced main events yet.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. Good luck!
Thank you sir, and thanks for the interview.

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