Open Mic: New Jersey (Part I)

Open Mic New Jersey (Part I)

April 28, 2014 12:00pm

By Jason Weigandt, Chase Stallo and Jordan Roberts

Eli Tomac, GEICO Honda, 2nd in 450SX

You said after Seattle that it might have been your best of the year. So it’s definitely starting to come together?
Yeah, baby steps and baby steps I guess you could say. I got off to a pretty good start that time. Ended up making one or two passes there, got into second place. We were actually pretty spread out between the top four I think it was. It was kind of maybe boring for the fans at one point, but that’s the way it was. Honestly we kind of stayed in the same spot the whole time. Ryan pulled me a little bit there. I actually got a little bit tight the last five or six laps, which was kind of disappointing because I felt like I could get good speed on this track if I would have just relaxed or something. It’s a podium.

How nasty was it?
It was pretty bad. It wasn’t quite on the level of Seattle but it was almost there.

Is that good for you? In these conditions, do you think it helped?
I really like the ruts when it’s soft like this. I feel like I excel in it where some guys struggle. I dig it.

Is there anything you can point to these last couple weeks that’s better? I know you’ve gone back and forth on some bike stuff. Is it just that? Is it just getting healthy?
It’s a combination of everything. I don’t think health is the issue at all anymore. It’s just me getting comfortable on a 450. That’s the thing that’s holding me back. I feel like there’s a fire there but it just isn’t lit at the moment.

So is there more to come?
Yes. There’s more there, but I just can’t do it right now.

What about in about a month? We’re starting outdoors. A little more fire there? How’s that going with the riding you’ve done so far?
It’s been okay. I’m ready just to open it outdoors. Supercross is obviously really fun but I like going back to my roots. – Jason Weigandt

"I don’t think health is the issue at all anymore. It’s just me getting comfortable on a 450. That’s the thing that’s holding me back." - Eli Tomac Photo: Simon Cudby

Phil Nicoletti, JGR Toyota Yamaha, 12th in 450SX

Hometown race, has to feel good to be back.
I’m glad they finally got a Supercross up here in the Northeast. The fans have been dying for it. I’m fortunate enough I grew up 90 miles from here, so I had a lot of family and friends I grew up with over the years. I’m pumped to be here.

A lot of people say they like home races, but there’s so much involved with family and friends. How do you juggle all that?
Actually, sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. Today it was good because it keeps your mind off things, off the track. Kind of takes the pressure off a little bit because you’re thinking about other things as well. It was good. It got a little bit overwhelming at times. I haven’t seen them in a long time and I get to see them at Unadilla again. I’m pumped. I’m glad everybody came out. I’m glad the weather sort of held off. It turned out to be a good night.

Talk about the fans in general. I think there was around 30,000 in the pits, 60,000-plus at the race, and a huge market. What do you think this does for the sport?
I think it’s huge. Like I said, they’ve been needing to get one up here for a long time, especially for the metropolitan area. You’re drawing from 30 million people. You almost have to fill the stadium kind of on accident. It’s great. I wish the rain didn’t come. I think it would have brought a little more people in, but still they said there were 60,000 fans, so I’m pumped. I’m glad everybody came out and stuck around and I hope everyone enjoyed themselves.

Even Feld, they went really big, brought out all the bells and whistles. It almost looked like the Monster Cup. That had to bring a different level of excitement to the race, right?
It was awesome too because it made it for us riders that come up early and do press day and the media deal, it makes us feel a little bit more special. It made it easier for us to come out and hang out. Plus, it’s New York City, not a lot of people have been here. They’ve flown in, but never got to sightsee. So hopefully all the riders enjoyed that, which got to come up for press day. I’m glad they did that and hopefully it paid dividends for them.

Talk about the race just a little bit. It seemed like the track actually turned out all right.
Yeah, honestly that rain made that track the best it was all day, to be honest. It got a little rutted but it was pretty consistent. Earlier in practice it was a bit marbly, kind of gravely, I don’t know where they got the dirt from but the rain held it quite a bit. Sometimes nothing waters better than Mother Nature. It worked out to be perfect tonight. The main event was good, tricky, but other than that it was solid.

Talk about the schedule change. A lot of riders like to have a certain routine. When they have to change the schedule does it mess with you at all?
No, not really. You could have slept in a little bit longer, but other than that, not really. It wears you out standing around a little bit longer and stuff. Other than that, it’s kind of nice. Today it was good because it gave me time to interact with my family and friends, so for me it was a benefit. – Chase Stallo

"t’s a huge weight off the shoulders. I was at rock bottom after the first two rounds." - Jeremy Martin Photo: Simon Cudby

Jeremy Martin, Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha, 2nd in 250SX

Second career podium after a long season. It’s got to be a weight off the shoulders.
It’s a huge weight off the shoulders. I was at rock bottom after the first two rounds. I failed to qualify for both of them. I was able to qualify and then I struggled. Couldn’t put everything together. I used the break to my advantage and did some testing and got the bike handling better and prepared a little bit better and was able to walk away with a second tonight. Didn’t get the best of starts, had to work my way through the back, battle with my brother and everything. It was a good night.

It looked like at points you were catching Justin and then you were losing him. Where were you catching him and where do you think you were kind of losing him?
I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to tell. We hit lappers there and they seemed to not be moving out of the way. I had to rip my goggles and stuff. The track was pretty brutal tonight but it had a pretty good layout and I liked that it was soft and it got rutty.

You said “I was at the bottom.” How do you pull yourself out?
You have to believe in yourself. I have good people around me. I got the Carmichael family and my riding coach Dylan Turner and stuff. Without those guys and people on the team I don’t know if I would have ever been able to turn it around.

Does it wear on you mentally more than physically? You just start doubting yourself?
I’d say for sure it mentally wears on you. When you expect to win and you expect to do good things and you know you were there at one time and then you’re not there. It was definitely mentally wearing and I looked to some people for help and they were able to help me turn things around.

Do you think pre-season expectations played a big part in that? A lot of people were looking at you as a title contender this year. Did that play any kind of part or was it just you weren’t clicking?
No, I was riding really good in the off-season and I was feeling good, some things just weren’t right, right before the season. Unfortunately it affected me and made me go from being a title contender to not even being in the top ten overall in points. I was able to get things fixed though so that’s all that matters.

It seems like these last couple weeks you were starting to click. You were setting the fastest times in practice. You were getting there and then something would go wrong in the main, but I think the last three weeks it clicked finally.
For sure. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without those close people surrounding me and helping me. – Chase Stallo


Vince Friese, Factory Metal Works/Club MX, 3rd in 250SX

Podium finish! What’s it feel like to get up on the box for the first time?
It’s awesome. I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time and that was my goal this year, to get up on the podium. I’m definitely stoked to get it done.

What helped you make it up there tonight? Do you ride better in bad weather, was it your start or anything else?
To be honest, I think it was a combination of a bunch of things. I was really feeling good tonight. I got off to a good start. My bike was running really good. We just had it all freshened up. We really only get it freshened up about once a season, and I think that’s the first time we really put a top end or anything in. My bike was running really good, my suspension was working awesome and then it started raining. I knew all I had to do was be consistent—get a good start and put in consistent laps. That’s what I did and it worked out.

So you don’t do anything with the top end until way late in the season like this?
Yeah, the thing runs a long time. Todd at TLR performance is awesome. He obviously builds an engine capable of a podium at a supercross race up against factory guys. It basically runs all year. I really think we could run it all year, but we went ahead and freshened it up for this race, and it ran really good.

Right before the main event it started raining. Did the track get gnarlier as the main event progressed?
Yeah, the track was really gnarly. I knew that with the rain it was going to make it a little bit about survival, too. I knew I was going to have to be consistent and not make mistakes. The track got really rutted out and had a lot of potholes and stuff like that since it had been raining all day. The dirt was definitely really soft. It was good though.

Outdoors are coming up. Same deal for you as far as your ride?
Right now that’s the plan. We plan on getting going, and I think I might ride a 450 outdoors. –Jordan Roberts

"I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time and that was my goal this year, to get up on the podium. I’m definitely stoked to get it done." - Vince Friese Photo: Simon Cudby

Matt Bisceglia, GEICO Honda, 4th in 250SX

You put yourself in a great position early on in the main, but unfortunately stalled the bike. Can you talk about your race leading up to that moment?
Yeah, I ripped a good start, man! I spun in both of my starts in the heat races—they red flagged it. I kind of knew what the soil was going to be like coming into the main. My mechanic, Adam, had that steel-toe boot on, so I was like, ‘Dude, give me something tacky.’ He got me something tacky, so I kind of know how to start with that. I just ripped a really good start—second behind Jimmy D. [Decotis]—and I followed him around for a couple of laps before making a pass on him. I led it for three or four laps, and then [Justin] Bogle was just sending it through the whoops. He got around me through those, and then I just came into the tight switchback corners and I stalled my bike. I’m really disappointed, but I’m happy with how I rode. I set the fastest lap time before it started raining. When I passed Jimmy D. I got into the lead and set the fastest lap time of the race. I can’t be too bummed with that. I just really wanted to get onto the podium and I wanted to win it, you know. I feel like if I could’ve cleaned up a couple of things and I could’ve been more aggressive in a couple sections, I feel like I could’ve had a win in there. I’m bummed and a little disappointed, but not disappointed with how I rode.

Yeah, you keep looking better and better as the season progresses.
Yeah, I’m just taking baby steps and moving forward. Like they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. That’s just kind of what I’m looking for: build every race and eventually be up there in the hunt.

So was that inside rut pretty deep, or what ended up happening in there?
It’s not like the rut was that deep, it was just so close to the Tuff Blox that you really had to limp it in there and then lean it in there. I came in there—and you come in so slow and have to have the clutch in all of the way in—and unfortunately I didn’t adjust my clutch and that was the end of it. I just stalled right there. It took me a couple of kicks to get it started and I lost a couple positions. I feel that if I had a couple more laps I could have passed [Vince] Friese again. It is what it is. I think the advantage will be in my favor next week because I’ll be riding on dry tracks all week.

Do you like the dry, slicker tracks?
Yeah, that’s kind of what I’ve been riding back in California. I can’t thank everyone enough: Johnny Louch; my mom and dad; Johnny D. out here this week, pumping me up from the Rockwell Training Facility. Yeah, thanks to all of those guys. My mechanic Adam—if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have ripped that start. He made my gate what it was. Yeah, just thanks a lot to everybody on the team. –Jordan Roberts