Joey Savatgy vaulted his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team back to the forefront at the Spring Creek National in Millville, Minnesota, erasing about a month of struggles with a solid 1-2 day for his second overall win of the season. Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM’s Alex Martin carried the home race pressure and stayed close to Savatgy in the first moto, but started just too far back to challenge him in moto two, so he ended up second overall. Series leader Zach Osborne, on the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, overcame some mechanical problems in moto one to salvage third thanks to a strong second moto. He went 8-1 for third.
Jimmy Albertson hosted this post-race press conference.
Racer X: Joey, it’s been kind of a rough little run for you here. How’d you feel today and what really turned your results around this weekend?
Joey Savatgy: I felt good today. Obviously it’s easy to say that when we have a good result. We had those two weeks off and Adam from Showa, Mitch [Payton] flew him out back east, and had my teammate come up to the farm. We spent last week testing and we made a lot of improvements to the bike. We got it going in the right direction. That’s the biggest thing. We’re figuring it out and pointing ourselves in the right direction. Obviously good starts help, but when myself and the bike work together as one, I guess you could say, it’s a lot easier on me. It was good to get another one. I know Mitch has been probably pulling his hair out. He probably hates us, but we’ve been trying and we’re finally back up here.
Alex, today, hometown race. We were talking earlier walking around the track. I was walking around the track. It was just brutally rough. Is this maybe one of the roughest Millville Nationals you’ve seen?
Alex Martin: Yeah. In the Midwest, thunderstorms are pretty bad. I know it’s been really dry for three weeks. Then this week it just kind of unleashed and we had a lot of rain, really on Wednesday and then even Wednesday night. It was pretty wet for press, pretty soft, then it rained again all day Friday. Really, the track could have been a lot worse. I know Schaffer [track builder, Shane] and his gang did a lot, but did a great job to get the track to raceable. When it actually came around it was really good for the second moto. But I have not ever seen ruts like that before at Millville. It was pretty gnarly. Even the jump faces and stuff were spongey all day long. There was 15, 20 ruts across the face of every jump. It was definitely a technical track, no doubt about it.
Zach, that first moto, bike started smoking six laps to go. Give us a little idea what was running through your head at that point?
Zach Osborne: I was pretty nervous. I thought at first it was a radiator hose, but then after the moto we found out that it was just a piece came off the valve cover gasket, and it was oil. So, I was lucky to not catch on fire or anything like that. I was just praying the whole time. Just let me make it to the end and score some points, not lose it here. So, to get eighth, I was super happy with that.
Were you surprised by your speed in the second moto towards the end?
Osborne: A little bit, yeah. I had some good lines. I fell on the second lap and just managed to get up in front of Alex. I knew he was right behind me so I needed to hammer. I felt good. I found some nice lines that were smoother and I could carry a little bit of extra speed in. I just felt really comfortable with everything I had going on.
Training in Florida and heat and humidity, same weather every single day, does that make it so much easier when you come here and it’s an incredibly hot, muggy day, probably a little bit more rain than what you’re used to? You know you can ride in this weather and not be faded by it?
Savatgy: Yeah, like you said, we’re all out here. This stuff’s not really a shock to us. It was definitely muggy today. That’s going to play into effect regardless, no matter how much you train in it. I think obviously being in it every day at home is a tool. It’s beneficial for sure. When we show up on the race day it’s not, “Oh man, this is crazy.” But I think for me regardless whether you train in it every day or don’t, it’s going to put a hurt on you if it’s hot enough and muggy enough.
A-Mart: Obviously we’re all in Florida, so we really don’t have an advantage there. It gets pretty hot down there and you have to be careful not to go too deep during the week because it does, I think, take away from the weekend. So, for me it’s rest and recovery. Typically Tuesday is a pretty tough day. Just making sure you don’t drain yourself too much for the weekend. Honestly, today kind of felt a lot like Florida. It was pretty hot and humid. I think with the track being deep and soft like that, we weren’t really going the same speeds we normally go. So, you’re not getting that wind flow quite as much. I think it does help us be adapted to the heat.
Joey, how do you know when you’re struggling, you know for sure it’s the bike or do you start wondering is it me? Or are the tracks different? Or are the other guys going faster? How do you pinpoint what you need to fix? Did you know immediately or did you have to come up with a lot of different theories?
Savatgy: No. At the end of the day, I ride the bike. Obviously it helps when the bike works how I want it to, so I think at the end of the day I’m at blame for not having the results that we’ve had. But we’ve definitely made bike changes and that’s made it easier on me, not fighting the bike so much. There was definitely a week or two there where you don’t necessarily doubt yourself but you get frustrated and then try to figure out what to change and what’s not working, but I think we kind of came together, myself and Johnny [O’Mara] and Ricky [Carmichael] and Mitch and Bones [Jim Bacon] and everyone. We kind of came together and tried to figure it out. What’s different this year than last year? Obviously we have a new bike, but what’s majorly different? We eliminated a few things and we’ve made some changes and it’s in the right direction. I think I’m pretty confident with the bike and the direction we’re headed. I’d like to close out the season obviously be up here and battling for wins is the goal. But I’ve got to take it race by race and just try to keep getting good starts and putting ourselves in a good position and I think we’ll be up here.
Are you done, or now that you’re in a direction do you keep going in that direction? More changes coming, or are you good now?
Savatgy: No, it’s always changing. I think we stick with it for now and we try to find the weakest point and then attack that and fix that. We didn’t want to do too many changes at once. Then you start chasing your tail in a circle. But we’re in the right direction and I’ll stick with that for a week or so and try to figure out where it can be better. From there, we’ll make the adjustment.
Zach, just take me through that first moto. I’m assuming you were trying to nurse the bike around a little bit. Just take me through what you were changing to try not lug the bike or put it under a load and stuff like that?
Osborne: At first I thought it was coolant because it was coming from sort of the radiator area, so I was thinking that I just needed to keep it down in the RPMs and try to keep it as cool as possible, but in the end I found out that it was oil and maybe I could have gone on a little bit harder and still been okay. I was just happy to cross the finish line.
Alex, when you come back to Millville, how important is the Martin brother competition?
A-Mart: It’s not important at all, to be honest. You guys got to hype it up, I guess. It’s the Martin brothers’ home track. We have a lot of good riders in the class. Jeremy’s up there too on a good day, but he had some crashes today that held him back. Obviously being the bigger brother, you should be a little faster than your little brother [laughs] but I definitely don’t dwell on it. That’s not my focus during the week. I’m trying to beat that guy over there to the right [Osborne]. At the end of the day, it feels good to beat my brother, but it’s definitely not something that I focus on or even I’m stoked or pumped about when I cross the finish line. I’m like, “Yeah, I beat little bro!” There’s bigger things to work on.
Yeah, but you did get that pass in the second moto.
A-Mart: I did pass him in the second moto. I kind of broke him a little bit there. I don't know if he reads this afterwards. It might piss him off and maybe he’ll come out swinging in Washougal, but I looked back and I had a little gap.
With the sand here back in the sand section, compare that to Southwick. How do the two compare?
A-Mart: I thought it was all pretty similar to Southwick.
Savatgy: I thought it was sandier here.
A-Mart: It definitely was sandy. My dad was telling me, or maybe Jeremy, that they hauled in like 100 loads of sand. And that’s a lot of sand. I think that’s part of the reason why the track was so spongey today. I think it would have been a lot worse with all the rain that we had if we hadn’t hauled in that sand.
Is the texture similar between the two?
A-Mart: I guess, kind of. Yeah.
You’re not a sand connoisseur?
This is a question for all three of you. During supercross it was really aggressive. Guys were really going for it. It doesn’t seem like that same attitude where you have to make this pass at this moment, take a guy down, has carried over. Is it just because you guys know there’s more opportunities than a 15-minute main event? At some point earlier this year, everybody was running into each other, the same guys that are racing out there right now, but now it’s all clean.
Savatgy: I think the ruts have a lot to do with it. We get somewhere like here or even Colorado and there’s 30-foot ruts and there’s 15 of them. It’s kind of hard to make contact when there’s a preferred line, and once you’re in the preferred line there’s no way to get out of it. You’ve got to run it all the way through. So, I definitely think it being rutty and long ruts plays in effect to that. But it is 30 minutes and two laps. It’s not a 15-minute main event. I don’t think there’s as many opportunities. I think it’s just totally different.
A-Mart: I will say I think the temperature has a lot to do with it as well. Colorado was pretty cool and we were all fresh and spunky. The heat seems to kind of stagger the riders a little bit more. They’re not quite as willing to dive-bomb people and things like that. It seems like it kind of mellows the riders out a little bit.
Do you feel like as riders when it’s hot like this, it’s more like you don’t have that attack to fight back quite as hard in a battle? That you kind of go into a little reserve mode instead of wasting energy?
A-Mart: Yeah, I think so.
Savatgy: Yeah, I think it depends on the situation, but definitely it’s a lot harder to retaliate when it’s 95 and feels like 103 out. I think that definitely, like he said, plays in effect. I think the situation as well, it depends. If it’s overall or if it’s for a moto win and you’re coming down to the last lap, I don’t think that really much matters. But if there’s not a lot to gain from it, then I think it’s totally different.