Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett is definitely back. His 1-1 performance to sweep the UPMC Sports Medicine High Point National displayed the form that led him to multiple wins in 2011, and a championship in 2012. He’s also chopped 23 points off of Jeremy Martin’s lead in the last three motos, and now sits 36 down. Here’s Blake chatting at the post-race press conference.
Racer X: Congratulations on a great day. I don’t want to say it seemed effortless because you struggled with your starts a bit today.
Blake Baggett: Yeah, they don’t come easy… it’s like going to Vegas. You never know! We’re still working on it. I’ve got to be perfect, I guess, counting cards, or counting when the gate’s going to drop. So we’re just plugging away at it but the changes we’ve made in the past weeks have been crucial to the way I feel out there. I feel like it shows that I’m more comfortable and been able to ride the bike like I want to.
Where do you feel your speed is compared to the first race of the year just now a month ago?
Yeah, I would say that we’ve made up probably three, four seconds a lap at the practice tracks just in suspension, and then we’ve been working on quite a bit of engine stuff, too.
At this point compare yourself even to last year. You didn’t win three motos in a row at any point last year, did you?
I don’t even think I won three motos last year!
So better than last year at this time?
Definitely last year we struggled quite a bit, but this year the air forks kind of threw me off a little bit and it was hard to get them the way that I wanted them. We’d make some changes and it would make some things better but then it would kind of hurt other areas. So to get it fine-tuned to where you want it, on the big bumps it’s good and then also in the dry, little chattery bumps it feels good. That’s a thing that we struggled with a little.
You have a championship on basically the same bike. How much different is this bike from the bike that you won your championship on?
The frame is pretty close but we have air forks now. We didn’t have the air forks back in 2012. And then there’s just some minor stuff on the engine that they’ve changed over the years. The bikes seem pretty close, but when you ride them back-to-back, it’s way different.
It’s kind of weird; we figured for sure Hangtown and Glen Helen, you’ll definitely win those. He’ll definitely be the points leader early. He owns those tracks. But the two tracks you've won on were the two non-California ones. Is that kind of weird?
Yeah, I would like to win there, so if we can go back there maybe add it on to the end of the series, that’d be cool. I wasn’t comfortable with the bike. Bottom line, I wasn’t comfortable. It just took a little bit longer. My eye injury I didn’t have as much time to test. I only rode five days before Glen Helen so we went there with what we had and now we’re a little bit behind but we’ll just keep plugging away at it.
First moto you did something we haven’t seen anyone do: you passed Jeremy Martin. I don’t know if anyone had really gotten him like that, and you pulled away and won. What does that mean for you, confidence and momentum-wise?
Just to build on it. I feel that I should be up there and I feel that the Lites bike has suited me and I’ve won a championship. He’s riding great but I’m just going to do what I can to try to get that championship at the end of the year.
Has the vision gotten any better or is it kind of same as what it’s been?
No, the vision’s exactly the same as basically round one. I went to the doctor on Wednesday and we did all the tests and they put the suction cup on the eye and pull on it and all this stuff. It’s exactly the same measurements and vision-wise as round one, so no changes yet.
They talk about 20/20 being perfect vision. Where are you at?
My left eye is 20/20 but my right eye, with the medicine and the drops I got about 45 minutes of the day that it’s pretty close to 20/20 but as the day goes on, and your heart rate goes up, the eye just gets blurrier and blurrier.
Do you find yourself ever riding and just closing that eye? Is that something you do?
Every once in a while if I’m being roosted by somebody I will close that eye just so that I can focus on what line’s ahead of me and kind of where I want to go. It kind of throws your balance off a little bit.
You have the ball rolling right now. It is going to be sweeping changes to keep it rolling or are you just going to keep chugging right along?
Probably just keep chugging right along, no changes. Just put fresh Dunlops on that thing and put some race fuel in it, we’re good to go.