By Chase Stallo, Jason Weigandt and Steve Matthes
Ryan Dungey, Red Bull KTM, 3rd in 450SX
Tonight you actually had to recover from a bad start and come through the pack, which you did more aggressively than last week. Was there any difference in this track or were you just more aggressive overall?
You’ve got to be aggressive but a track like this, the more you ride it harder the slower you actually go. So it was such a fine line. Once I was able to make the passes I was able to just kind of latch onto Villo and we fell into a groove. This track was so slippery and it was so… I don’t mean to have a bad attitude about it, but there weren’t many options for different lines out there. Everything funneled down into one good line. So I tried to switch things up. I went inside before the whoops, the double before the whoops, and that was about even. But Villo lost his rear coming out of the finish line corner after it and I ended up not being close enough to even get him, to capitalize on it. He just was solid. He rode a solid race and with that it’s hard to make passes.
You were doing a different line than what everybody else was in that rhythm lane coming down from the stands. What was your strategy there?
We lined it up on the Dartfish [video software program] today and they took Kenny, one lap he wheelied it and went over the table, and then another lap he kind of blitzed it and hit it like a whoop and jumped onto the table and off. It was really fast. I think I wasn’t maximizing how much time I could make up on it because I was just trying to do it clean every lap. I didn’t want to mess it up. It just felt pretty good through the whole race. I’d come down the hill and I’d actually get close. I’d make up a little bit of time and then it would stay about even through the rhythm. And then at the end there I just kind of double-singled out and went to the inside because that outside was so blown out.
Going forward are you changing anything, looking at things differently, or are you kind of trying to stay in a steady groove?
I got asked that on the podium and I’m 30 points down. Throwing away that race really hurt us. I can’t go through the weeks worrying how I’m going to make up 30 points; I just need to maximize every race I go to from here on out and hope for the best. I need to be consistent. Villopoto’s a strong guy and it’s hard to see that there’s going to be a mistake from him. But we’ve got to believe that things could go our way really fast too. It’s not impossible. As long as there’s a chance and the points [are] where we can still do it, then we’re going to push for it. If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t then it just wasn’t meant to be and we’ll go on to next year and we’ll try again. I really want to win this supercross championship, especially since I did it once. I want to back that up. That’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now and I’ve just come up short each year.
Was it difficult finding a setup today on this track? It seems like each week the guy that does the best is the team that finds that setup. Is that how it is?
For sure, if you can come to a race and your bike’s feeling right on par right from the beginning and then you make a couple of minor adjustments, it’s always good to get out there and you know you’re in the ballpark. Today we felt that way. It got a little choppy and harsh and we ended up slowing the rebound down a little bit on the front. Didn’t even really touch the rear, so only one change all day. By the time we got to the main event with how choppy and slippery it was, I think the guys did a really damn good job. I was really happy with the bike. We got some stuff down the works that we’re trying to get a little better with suspension, everybody is. So hopefully we can get a little bit more ahead of that curve as we go into the next races. That’ll really help us.
Are you looking at it as I’m going into every week where I need to win?
Absolutely. It’s a must now. I know we’ve got one win but I think it’s been good to be consistently on the podium. A couple guys have got hurt but it’s still a deep field out there. It’s more chaotic too with the race schedule and the four-lap heat races. Everybody seems to be going wild out there. It’s even harder now. The intensity’s higher and it’s just (higher) every year. For me, I felt like I’ve done a good job of positioning myself and getting good starts and being there every single week. If I’m not winning at least we’re top three, and that’s good, too.
Adding the semis in, is that tearing the track up more?
Yeah, it’s more track time. I think this track was going to go whether there were semis, a little bit less racing or not. I couldn’t believe how slippery it was. It blows my mind how many tracks this year have been that slippery. It’s kind of turning into throttle control and whoever can ride that slippery stuff the best. It’s unreal.
What would you attribute that to?
I don’t know. It comes from it being dry. I think the Monster Trucks ride the same dirt we do. And not only that but on top of that they leave it baking in the sun for a whole week out in California and that doesn’t help it. The base is already laid down for a whole week. But I’m not a track builder either. I bet it’s tough and they spend a lot of money with the equipment and man-hours to build that stuff, so I don’t really know. I never remember a year it being that slippery, especially like a Phoenix. You know it’s going to be slippery and it’s just like unbelievable icy feeling. – Chase Stallo
Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 6th in 250SX
Rough night, up-and-down night. How’d it go?
It was a tough night for me, man. I crashed so hard in practice. I’m glad I was able to race. With the help with my dad and Brock [Sellards] and stuff, we kind of just put stuff together. I just wanted to do as much as I could. It was hard in the main event; the track got rough and it was hard for me to see. I lost the front end in front of Adam and crashed again. I’m lucky I survived.
That was the whole goal, just survive?
Yes. We still have four races I think left. Anything can happen. I’m still in it and I’m going to do my best. Go to California here and do a little bit of testing and regroup. – Jason Weigandt
Josh Hill, Soaring Eagle RCH Suzuki, 8th in 450SX
It looked like one of the best nights of the year for you. Obviously not the result you were looking for in the main but the heat race, all that, it looked like you were stronger.
I feel like I’m getting my racing edge back. That’s what’s been lost. The last two years I’ve been practicing good, especially the last six months I’ve been really riding well, I just haven’t displayed it on the weekends. I don’t know what it is. I haven’t been getting the greatest starts and I just haven’t had that edge, that agility to get myself to the front of the pack and feel like I belong up there. It’s coming. I really feel like I can podium. Every weekend it seems realer and realer. We’ll see.
Going back to Toronto, last year this is when you hit your stride. Does this give you some feeling that you can get to that point again?
Yeah. I just had so many injuries in the beginning of this year. I had a pinched nerve in my back the Monday before Anaheim. That set me back. That was the worst injury of the year. And then I broke my collarbone and that only took me out for a week. I had another little practice crash at San Diego and tore some cartilage off my ribs. The collarbone’s been the least of my injuries so far this year. I finally feel like I’m coming around. I’m getting stronger. We’ll see. Hopefully I can get up there on box. I feel healthy and I’m going to go have a good week this week and show up to Toronto with the best attitude of anyone because I like it up there. – Chase Stallo
Jimmy Decotis, Riverside Harley Davidson, 10th in 250SX
Tough ending to a good start.
Yeah, it definitely was. I got a good start up there and I was in fourth for a little bit and then [Martin] Davalos made a bobble and he got up. I tried to get by him as soon as he fell but he got right in front of me. I tried to stick into his pace the best I could. He had another bobble and I kind of capitalized on that and found myself in third on lap 4 or 5 and then I held it pretty strong. I wasn’t going super fast like the front guys but I was running consistent laps and I felt strong and comfortable up there. Towards the end I made a few bobbles and little mistakes and allowed [Blake] Baggett to get by. With me and [Kyle] Cunningham, it wasn’t no one’s fault. It wasn’t like it was a bad move on his part. He wanted the line and I was going for it too. I think if I hit his swing arm rather than his back wheel I could have saved it but it just threw me right on the ground. I got up, ripped my grip off and just finished it out for 10th with no grip. Overall, I don’t know. It seems like that’s where I’ve been, 7-10. I’m trying to get out of there and tonight I felt like I had the speed and I had it all. Just was a little bit of a bummer. But through the years I’ve felt like I’ve always been progressing and that’s the goal. I’m not going to be one day as fast as Cianciarulo just like that. I’ve just got to keep on moving forward and hopefully one day someone like Mitch [Payton] or one of these guys will give me a shot to get on a bike with a year under my belt, not a fill-in gig or a free money deal; enough where I can hire a coach or a trainer and I can do the work. I really believe I have the skills to do it; I just need a real program. If I have a real program I can do it.
Do you feel that tonight got you closer to that ultimate goal?
I think so. I think I showed some signs of a little bit of brilliance out there that you need to show for these guys to want you on the team. These teams are very few and far between and if you’re not in a position to be on the podium, they don’t want you. That’s just how it goes. Just trying to get up there and show these guys that I belong up there and that I can do this.
When you were in third did that “I can get a podium” feel start to creep in a little bit or were you trying to stay smooth?
No, I was trying to smooth and just calculate my laps. I was just reading the pit board. I knew what I was doing for times and how much time was left. I really felt like I had it. Overall I missed one of the rhythms, that hurt me a lot. That was kind of the biggest thing right there. I missed that rhythm and allowed those guys to get close up to me. Overall it was a good night to show, but it was a terrible night in the ending.
And the crash with Cunningham, just going for the same spot, nothing more than that?
That was it, yeah. No hard feelings. He came over and talked to me after. That’s just how it goes. – Chase Stallo
Ronnie Stewart, DirtCandy Graphics, 19th in 450SX
Take us through it. Third main in a row.
Yeah, another main. Very excited. To have the opportunity to race 20 laps at the end of the night with the best riders in the world is a dream come true. I’m just having a lot of fun and just really enjoying every minute of it.
Five years ago did you ever see yourself making three mains in a row?
Not really. I always kind of dreamed about it and visualized it and always wanted it to happen, but through the past couple years it wasn’t really looking good. It was a struggle and things weren’t clicking for me. But this year I have a lot more help and I had the resources that I need so I really contribute my success to my sponsors, Team DirtyCandy, PRBC.com, and everybody else that’s backing me. I just can’t thank them enough for giving me that extra push that I need to get into the main events and to compete at the top level.
What’s the difference? Earlier in the season you were struggling, weren’t making the mains, now three in a row.
I say this all the time: really just focusing on myself and the task at hand. You hear Jeff Emig, you hear everybody say a start, this and that, but it really starts from the beginning of the day. Feeling good about your equipment, feeling good about your program, and then going out and really getting comfortable with the track, giving yourself confidence to where you can take different obstacles, different lines. So that way when you line up to the gate you feel good about getting out onto the track. Then you can just let go of what’s going to happen out there and just focus all your attention on the start.
So it’s been more of a mental thing for you?
It’s been a mental thing to prioritize my thoughts and to think about just what’s right in front of me. It gives me the ability to focus and put more attention onto what I’m doing right in front of me. I’ve been getting a lot of good starts so that’s practice, having a good bike and believing that you can do it. So good starts and riding good and just believing that you can do it is basically half the battle, really. – Chase Stallo
Alex Martin, CycleTrader.com Rock River Yamaha, 9th in 250SX
Your best finish of the year, but your brother got you at the finish. Why did you go 15 feet wide in the last turn on the last lap?
Let’s see. My heart rate was probably 205, I had gnarly arm pump, and I felt bad for him having a terrible season. So I gave it to him [laughs].
Still, you have to be happy with the result, been a rough season for you.
It’s been rough! I’ve had good speed, I’ve been good in qualifying, but the main events have been biting me. And even tonight I should have gone down several times. I had a really close call in the whoops and my heart just dropped. Then I saved it, and I was like, “Well, I should do good tonight now because I should have crashed there.” – Steve Matthes