Open Mic: 450s

Open Mic 450s

July 20, 2015 2:30pm

By Chase Stallo and Jason Weigandt

Justin Barcia, JGR Yamaha, 2-2 for second overall in 450MX

Racer X: Congratulations on the day, couple of holeshots. Of course we want to know from your perspective, how was the day? I know it’s different now after winning two in a row.
Justin Barcia: Oh yeah, it’s not very good after winning two in a row. But we were pumped at Glen Helen when we got a second place, but now we’re not super-happy. It’s just the way life is, I suppose.

Give us the rundown of the day.
I felt pretty good all day. Good starts. That was good. Even before that, practice times I ended up fourth I think. So it was okay, nothing special. I’m not the best practicer ever. Went into moto one wanting a win, and Ryan [Dungey] had a little bit more than me of course. It was tough. I was trying to get him, but I just couldn’t do it, so it was a little frustrating. Second moto, holeshot, and I don’t remember where Ryan passed me, but he got around me. He pulled away. I closed the gap up, and then he pulled away again.

He was really fast in that downhill run.
Yeah, I don’t know. I knew he was fast there. I’ve seen it every lap, and it was super-frustrating for me because I was like [to myself], oh, you can’t go fast on a downhill? I don’t really understand that. I was telling myself, I know he’s fast down that hill and I was trying to hammer down it. But I don’t know, I couldn’t go faster for some reason! It’s like, what do you do? I’ve got to go find a big hill this week and just hammer down it. For me, it was a frustrating day because I knew I was good in certain places and just couldn’t make it happen, so it was tough. 

When we showed up this morning and the conditions were the way they were, were you pretty excited, or did you expect the day was going to dry out?
No, I come in pretty open-minded. Honestly, I didn’t really want to go in the mud and get dirty. I am good in the mud, but I don’t like getting muddy. It’s not fun. I got to clean up and the mechanics got to do a ton of work—put on bigger radiators. It’s not really fun. I’d rather be dry all day, but I don’t have a problem with the mud. Obviously I ride good in the mud, so I don’t care about that. So I went in open-minded and the track turned out really good. It was extremely rough, I think, and a lot of braking bumps. My bike worked pretty good today, I was happy with that.

You said you were happy with second at Glen Helen, and now you’re not. Is it almost good to be frustrated with a second?
I don’t know how to look at it, really. It’s not like I can go home this week and work harder than I’ve been working because I’m hammering down. It’s just frustrating. I don’t know. But it’s a good thing for sure because we were happy at Glen Helen. I’ve been through so much—injuries and team stuff—and we worked through it and we got a second there and then we got those two wins in a row, and it’s like, wow, this is the real deal. And then a second today is frustrating. J-Bone is like, “Yeah, it was a good day, but there’s nothing we can really say.” We need to go faster. And then it’s good because Buddy Antunez was here today and he knows… Like, I don’t know how I can go faster. I’m going as fast as I can. But Buddy knows how I can go faster, so he tells me how to go faster, and then I can put it all together, if that makes sense.

Can you go through what happened when you crashed in the first moto? Or did you actually crash?
Almost crashed. It was so sketchy. I honestly don’t even really remember it too good, but I know my hand slipped off and somehow I got that back on. My foot caught, did a nac-nac. It was so squirrelly. Too many mistakes today. Just need a little more speed.

I don’t know how many holeshots this makes in a row, but is this a function of the confidence that you got from Muddy Creek, or have you been working on your starts?
No, actually I maybe did one start this week, to be quite honest with you. But my bike’s extremely fast. When I shift third gear the thing just goes. The Yamaha’s known to be extremely fast. I think [Coy] Gibbs got protested here one year actually for the motor because their motor hammers so fast down the straightaways. When we have big straightaways our bikes like to be opened up. The first moto start, I guess it was pretty good. I didn’t see how big the gap was, but I guess it was good. Second moto, I had to fight for it, but when we got halfway down the straightaway I just got a little room. So this is a good track for our bike. It’s got some good uphills, and the Yamaha has a lot of power.

The last two wins that you got, the main thing you said was that you were having fun. Were you having fun today?
I mean, yeah. I enjoyed it today. It was fun, but I don’t know. It’s never the same when you don’t win. I didn’t win for so long I lost that feeling of what that felt like, and then to get that again is like, it’s just an amazing feeling. And then today was tough. But I’m happy with the podium for sure. That’s where I want to be, but winning’s awesome.

But were you having fun on the track? Was the track fun for you?
Yeah, the track turned out to be an awesome track today. It was rough. The first moto, I really wasn’t thinking ahead. I was just doing corner by corner, and that’s when Buddy’s like”, “Hey, think past those corners and do certain different things. I learned a lot better the second moto. Like I said, I didn’t have what it took to win today.

I heard you and your mechanic were thinking of going to France to check out the Tour de France on an off-weekend. Is that for real?
I was about to buy us first-class tickets to France! Man, we just won two races and we’re super into cycling. We were driving back from RedBud to the airport, and I was like, “Dude, let’s go to the Tour.” I like Europe, so I was like, “Let’s go.” And then we were like, “Well, we’re going to miss a lot of days of training even though it’s an off-weekend.” And then the time change would have just been gnarly. We were close. I was looking at plane tickets for sure. I wanted to go. Tour de France is awesome. One day I hope to go for sure and watch, maybe ride bicycles around, not race, obviously.

They have those cool tours you can do all the stages before…
You can ride the stage before the guys and stuff. I’d be really into that. I’ve been riding bicycles more than ever now. I really do enjoy it. When I started training with Johnny O, that was more painful than anything, riding bicycles with him. It’s always painful, but now I just got the bug and enjoy riding bicycles. – Chase Stallo

Blake Baggett, Yoshimura Suzuki, 4-3 for third overall in 450MX 

Blake Baggett: I’m trying to get better and better each weekend. Some weekends definitely don’t show it, but just trying to learn and get better and eventually be able to be up front with [Ryan] Dungey and Barcia and be battling for wins like I did on the Lites bikes. Just still figuring out the big bike and trying to eliminate mistakes. Of course I still make a lot in a thirty-minute moto, but just trying to get better and improve. Taking each weekend and each moto one at a time.

Watching your lap times, the strength that you have toward the end of the motos, it just seems like you keep building and getting faster and quicker. Even when you weren’t chasing anyone down at the end of moto number one. Do you feel it on the bike? Can you feel that you’re getting faster toward the end of the race on this 450?
Yeah. I feel like I get more comfortable with it, and then I push the limits of it a little bit more, my limits of it. But I still don’t feel like I did on the Lites bike where I can send it. Just still trying to get used to it. The big bike, when it spits you off, it hurts a lot more than the Lites bike. You can just hold it wide open on the Lites bike and cartwheel it, and most of the time you’re all right. Most of the time this big bike will chase you down and just punt you into the dirt. Just trying to be smart with it. Trying to keep it on two wheels and just slowly improve.

You’ve talked a lot this year about staying on two wheels. How important is it for you to be healthy this season all the way through?
That’s the goal. The goal was to make all seventeen supercross rounds and all twenty-four motos for outdoors. So even during the week sometimes you can go for a hot lap or something, but I’m just trying to be steady and make sure that I’m here. To me, it makes a better career when you’re here every weekend, every day. So just trying to do that, but as well as be running up front with those guys and push the limits when you need to and not push them when you don’t have to.

That second moto, that late charge, did that kind of bring back the 250 days a little bit?
A little bit even though it was only for third. So kind of. But it was cool. It’s fun to be up there racing with Kenny [Roczen]. We’ve been riding a little bit together back in Florida. It just brings back fun times, and especially when you can practice with somebody and then race with them, you just improve each other. Both of you will get better and better. Just plugging away and just gave it everything I had, and that was all that I had.

Talk a little bit more about in that last moto, your battle with first [Fredrik] Noren and then with Roczen.
The track, because it was a little wet, some areas were a little one-lined. You had a second line, but it wasn’t the ideal choice, so it was hard to get somebody lined up and not eat a gallon of dirt in your goggles. Had to be precise with it and use a little bit of patience. Once I saw the opportunity, I tried to jump on it so that I could keep the goggles clean.

What’s the progress report on the place in Florida? I know at Budds Creek it was kind of almost a track. Where are you at now?
I’d say the track is done. We’re just slowly adding obstacles and stuff as we go. Try to put every section that I either struggle with or something that’s technical. I try to mimic it there. Sometimes it’s not always the easiest thing to do, but we’ve done a pretty good job so far. 

Who’s been riding there?
Kenny’s rode there, [Christophe] Pourcel’s rode there, [RJ] Hampshire’s been there, [Martin] Davalos has been there. There was like twelve guys there two weeks ago. It was like a full-on national. It’s fun. It makes it fun to ride with other people and just mix it up. You see how the track slowly changes and ends up like a racetrack. You get a line way outside that wouldn’t be normally a practice-track line, but all of a sudden that’s the hot line by the end of the day. It definitely makes it something that we race and try to mimic it so that when you come here you know what to expect. 

How much does that translate from there to here?
The dirt’s pretty close. The sand there is pretty good. We got some hard clay, just like this place has got the hard base underneath it. It’s pretty close. Of course, we don’t have the hills like this. We do the best we can. But it’s something different. I’ve always rode in California the same old tracks, so to break it up and have something new is refreshing. –Stallo/Jason Weigandt

Jason Anderson, Rockstar Energy Racing, 6-6 for fifth overall in 450MX

Jason Anderson: I got fifth overall, which isn’t bad, but there are some things that definitely I wasn’t pumped on. I got a sweet start in that second one and just kind of went back, but everyone kind of did. Front three guys were kind of gnarly. But as far as the first moto, I was up front, and then I went back to eighteenth because I crashed, and then back to sixth. But I think that took a little bit out of me for the second one. But I’ll try and rebound and come back at Washougal. I like that track. Try and finish out these last four strong.

Usually, this track is pretty good for you, but how much different was it with the rain and all that?
Yeah, it was a lot different, but for the most part it was a good track—it was a good Millville. It was a little bit warmer and a little bit rougher, so that made it tough today, and me falling on the ground isn’t really making it that much easier.

You had flat tires the last two races and told me you switched to the mousse foam tube this weekend. How was that transition for you? Was it a big deal?
Yeah, switching to the mousse, I like the feel of the tube but to switch it over is going to help me just because you don’t want flats and you don’t want DNFs. I lost some good top-five overalls. I feel like Budds Creek would have been 7-5, and RedBud would have been a 4-5 instead of an 18-5. 

But it wasn’t that hard, and riding-wise it was all right?
Yeah, it wasn’t that bad. – Weigandt

Josh Grant, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 10-9 for tenth overall in 450MX

Racer X: That was pretty good, I would say—10-7 or something?
Josh Grant: No, 10-9. Not bad.

You’re fully admitting that you weren’t motoing down, hammering it during the last couple of weeks?
I honestly rode twice since Colorado, and those two times were at the Pala 50 track with Wyatt.

You weren’t on the big track at all?
I think I did maybe two or three laps, but I was there to watch my little dude ride.

So did it get to you a little bit? It was hot today. It was rough.
The silver bullet program wasn’t working for me today. But the last week I worked with the team a little bit, got the bike set up. It was just the same old stuff. Changed bars, kind of figure it all out, and go to the race. 

So how much better can it get? You’ve got five races with them.
I think it’s going to be good. That’s the plan is to kind of blow it out today. I knew I was going to be ruined after this weekend and then kind of slowly get the ball rolling. My goal is to make a good impression at the GP.

You hurt your knee in Colorado…
It wasn’t bad. I went and got it scoped. I was only out for a week and a half. But when the whole thing with the team [TwoTwo Motorsports] went down, I just kind of didn’t ride. I was like, no point in me rushing to get back because we’re not going riding.

If they raced Budds Creek, you probably could have ridden there?
Then I would have ridden. I would have been back earlier.

Are the bikes that different?
Yeah, they’re a little different, just component-wise, suspension. I was on the spring fork, and now I was running the air fork this weekend. But I’m stoked.

You said you want to make a good impression at the GP at Glen Helen—you’re in? Why are you so motivated for that?
It’s my home track. If it was anywhere else, no.

Okay, so this isn’t an audition for GP teams?
No. I just want to do well at Glen Helen! – Weigandt