Open Mic: 250 Interviews

Open Mic: 250 Interviews

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By Jason Weigandt and Aaron Hansel 

Blake Baggett, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 5-2 for second overall in 250

We actually just had a bike malfunction. That stuff happens. It’s a long championship. All the manufacturers are pushing the limits to get everything out of them, and us riders are pushing the limits of riding it, and sometimes things just don’t work.

Today in the race—a great afternoon. You got passed today. You don’t see that often. Once you pass somebody it’s usually done. Were you surprised that Christophe [Pourcel] was able to come back?
I crashed after the finish line, so that’s how he got me back. I crashed after the finish line section, and I was picking up my bike, and he went around me. I tried making a charge at it and to get back past him, just pushed the limit up there after the top of the hill and just washed the front wheel. 

Second moto you actually had a good start. Did you not know what to do with it?
I knew [Marvin] Musquin was going to be really fast because he won the first moto. The first moto I pushed the limits a little bit too much and just tried to over-ride the track. Lost the front wheel twice and got in two crashes. I just tried to be steady. When the rear wheel passed me up the hill, I just kind of tend to check out what he was doing and take his line and kind of jumped in the freight train. He just got away from me. He rode good today. I didn’t have nothing for him. This track’s just really hard to push the limits of things, and I tried to ride the limit of it. Today that was as fast as I could go here. 

You had one of the more unique posts on social media this week. Talk about the drug testing. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen anybody throw a result out there like that.
I like to serve up and shoot it straight. I don’t hide nothing. It’s been going around the pits since 2011 when Pro Circuit only lost one moto out of twenty-four ... It’s just been going around for years that everybody’s cheating. Every week somebody’s cheating; that’s what they say. I got my results and I was like, I’ll post them so that everybody knows that I’m not cheating and never was. And it started a frenzy out there. 

We asked a couple other guys about music. I know you’re a techy guy, right? What are you into right now?
As soon as I’m done talking to you, we’re going fishing. 

You’re a fisherman. Do you fish off the bank, [or do] you have a boat? Something really metallic that catches them? What do you wear?
A scuba suit and a shotgun underwater. We’re just going fishing. – Jason Weigandt 

"I got my results and I was like, I’ll post them so that everybody knows that I’m not cheating and never was." - Blake Baggett Photo: Simon Cudby
"I got my results and I was like, I’ll post them so that everybody knows that I’m not cheating and never was." - Blake Baggett Photo: Simon Cudby

Jeremy Martin, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha, 4-4 for third overall in 250

Last week, very nice week. This week, a lot more workman-like.
Today was a good day. I came in thinking about how I struggled last year, 29-12. The goal was honestly to get a podium and to fight the whole moto, not give up and try not to settle. I feel like I did that today. I got a really good start in the first moto. I just wasn’t clicking like I was at Millville with the track. I made the best of it and tried to fight. 

You came up here early; is that what [Ryan] Dungey said? You were at press day, or what was the deal?
I came up early for press day, just to try to get the bike a little bit more handling better for this place. Then, unfortunately, the rain came, and we did a little bit of sightseeing and stuff. It was cool. Heard he beat my lap time this week, so not too happy about that. 

You guys joke around, but when you’re sitting there, and obviously you have a red number plate background, and you have one of those effervescent personalities like after this you’re kind of fun to be around. Do you drag that out of him when it’s just you guys hanging around, and you’re teasing and whatnot?
I think Ryan drags it out of me. He’s a good guy. He’s helped me out a lot this year, so has the team and our riding coach Dylan Turner. During the week we have fun. We do what we need to do, but this isn’t our whole life. I believe that you need to have a life outside of racing, too; otherwise it can eat you up. 

You’re a 250F rider. It seems like when the guys are in the 450 Class, that’s when the motorhomes come and you have that chance to get away. You guys are like a Cub Scout troop in there. What’s it like you and Cooper Webb hanging out here?
It’s pretty good. It gets a little tight when you get in the semi and stuff. We got family, and when you got the crew and everyone there. Because everyone’s got a job to do when they’re there. Your mom or dad, and then they’re there to do a job. Sometimes it gets busy, and other times it’s kind of empty. I just like to pull up a chair out back behind the rig and get dressed and listen to some music and just kind of hang out.

What’s the red plate holder running through his music? What gets you revved up before the race?
Honestly, I’m not listening to heavy metal rock or banging my head or nothing. I’m kind of into country, kind of calm me down. 

Mellow? You don’t amp up?
No, not trying to amp up. For me it doesn’t work. 

I saw one spot in the first moto where there was a hairpin corner, big rut, you just kind of flopped over in there. Were you worried about getting stuck in there and losing a whole bunch of spots?
I was worried about someone just coming from behind and just ramming me. I was so far inside; I was just far enough around the corner to where the flagger could have got the flag out, but the rider didn’t know where I was. I had to make sure I held the clutch in. 

We asked a couple other guys; will you be down at Loretta Lynn’s at all?
I’ll be down there with Ryan Thursday. Get a chance to go ride the 2015 Yamaha, and to watch some of the kids. I think it’s going to be fun. It will be good to hang out with the blue crew and stuff. So that’ll be awesome. – Jason Weigandt 

"I was so far inside; I was just far enough around the corner to where the flagger could have got the flag out, but the rider didn’t know where I was. I had to make sure I held the clutch in. " - Jeremy Martin Photo: Simon Cudby
"I was so far inside; I was just far enough around the corner to where the flagger could have got the flag out, but the rider didn’t know where I was. I had to make sure I held the clutch in. " - Jeremy Martin Photo: Simon Cudby

Cooper Webb, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha, 3-5 for fourth in 250

The day was up and down. The first moto I got off to a really good start. I think I was fourth, and the bike was cutting out on me the first lap. I think we got some water in some places where it shouldn’t be. That whole first lap I lost about fifteen positions. I was bumming’ because I thought I was going to have to pull off. Then, all of a sudden the bike was good and I went to work. I had to pass all those guys. Some of them crashed, which made it a little easier on me. I actually ended up going down too with I think three to go and Jeremy [Martin] got around me so I had to pass him back. So, I got back around him and rode strong. I felt really good. 

In the second moto I just had a terrible start—I spun pretty bad. I tried to come through the pack, but it was tough. I think this is a really hard track to pass on, and I think a lot of people would agree. It’s one of those things where you have to be patient, and by the time I got up there, everybody was gone. I just tried to ride the best I could. I didn’t lose any points to Jeremy, and that’s a positive for sure. It’ll be nice to have a break and recharge the batteries.

Does it play with your head when your bike is cutting out like that?
It was one of those things to where it would just bog down. What can you do? Do you just ride around and try to score points? Do you just pull off? Luckily. I revved it and cleared it out and it was fine. It was one of those things though that yeah, messes with your mind. It’s like, “Do I go for it and have the bike maybe cut off?” It’s just one of those things with racing. 

Plans for the break: keep hitting it hard or relax?
Just relax. We’ve been hitting it hard all year. It’s been a long season, it really has. It’s flown by, but it’s not easy for sure. You have to be 100-percent every weekend if you want to win, and that’s the thing I’m kind of learning. Those days you’re not on it, you just have to salvage it the best you can. I think you can kind of see that with [Ken] Roczen. He needed a break, and I think a lot of us need a break. It’ll be nice to go home to North Carolina and relax a bit. Then I’ll head to Loretta’s and then back to California to finish these last three strong. - Aaron Hansel 

"Just relax. We’ve been hitting it hard all year. It’s been a long season, it really has." - Cooper Webb Photo: Simon Cudby
"Just relax. We’ve been hitting it hard all year. It’s been a long season, it really has." - Cooper Webb Photo: Simon Cudby

Cole Seely, Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Honda, 9-9 for ninth in 250

First moto I got off to really my first okay start of the whole season. Then I ended up going down the first lap and down the second lap and down again on the fourth lap! So, I got all my crashes out of the way early! I think I was in seventeenth or eighteenth and just kept charging forward. I felt like I was riding really well but just had those crashes. I came back to ninth, so that was okay. Second moto—same thing. Got a decent start and went down again. I feel like I’ve been riding on a fine line between being in control and going slower versus really pushing it outside my comfort zone and going faster. I’m kind of waiting for that to evolve into controlled speed. I felt like I had that speed early in the season, but I had a really big crash at Hangtown and kind of slowed down a little bit. I’m going to go home, do some testing and see if we can make the bike fit a little bit more to the faster speeds and the corner speed I’m trying to carry now. Overall though I went 9-9 for ninth, which isn’t great and isn’t too bad.

It’s not that bad when you factor in all the crashes.
It’s not; it’s just tough to swallow all those crashes. I’m looking for more speed and hopefully I can really come into the last three swinging. 

How much did the rain they had during the week affect the track? It looked pretty rutty out there.
It was deeper for sure. Practice was almost borderline East Coast mush, and it took away all your momentum, especially on a 250. You had to get creative with line choice. Once the racing started, though, it was similar to past races here in Washougal. The rain definitely changed the track, but in the races it wasn’t as different. -Hansel

"it’s just tough to swallow all those crashes. I’m looking for more speed and hopefully I can really come into the last three swinging." - Cole Seely Photo: Simon Cudby
"it’s just tough to swallow all those crashes. I’m looking for more speed and hopefully I can really come into the last three swinging." - Cole Seely Photo: Simon Cudby

Jarryd McNeil, The Factory Metal Works/Vurbmoto, 29-23 for twenty-fifth in 250 

This was my first ever National. I was going to race a Racer X bike in 2010, but before I did I wadded and lacerated my liver. Now, four years later here I am, and I haven’t raced a National since 2008 in Australia. Just thought I’d give it a go, and I teamed up with Vurbmoto and Factory Metal Works to try to race a National. Practice was gnarly! I was running tenth in the first practice in qualifying times in the B group. I’ve never been a track that gnarly before ever. I’ve never seen that many ruts in my life! I had no expectations but to try my best and I qualified without even having to go to the consolation race.

Lucky I made it in, because in my last practice I came down off one the step-downs down the hill and got cross-rutted and went off the track and t-boned a track worker who was probably 6’-something and 300 pounds nearly. Unfortunately, I think I broke his arm, and he ended up getting airlifted out of here this morning, just from me hitting him. I walked away fine. I busted my helmet up, but I had a spare one, but I crushed my radiator. Between my girlfriend and my mechanic, we were running around to all the teams trying to find a radiator, but the factory teams have aftermarket-modified radiators. We ended up going to the amateur pits and I paid 150 dollars to borrow a radiator for the day. It got me through and I made it, nearly even scored some points. But I made the National, which was my goal. I haven’t raced in four or five years, and I’m loving it. Pretty good for a freestyler I guess!

What were you expecting it to be like? The track was different today after that rain a few days ago.
This is the toughest track I’ve ever touched, ever. That is by far the gnarliest track I’ve ever raced or practiced on. I’ve raced sand tracks that get rough, but not a track that has twenty ruts down every straight and up every jump. It’s like, pick a rut, and just hope you come out okay on the other end. That’s what the whole entire race was, just picking ruts! -Hansel

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