Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM's Shane McElrath finished third overall but wasn't able to attend the press conference after cutting his hand on a champagne bottle following the second moto.
Racer X: First I just want to say congratulations to you, Adam, on the big win here today. That has certainly been a long time coming for you. You’ve been so close so many times, man. Take us through today and how you finally were able to achieve this ultimate goal.
Adam Cianciarulo: I guess it starts a few weeks ago. Actually, before Washougal, I was just in a bad mindset. I just had a few bad races in a row. I think it was RedBud and Southwick, and I was just doing bad. Getting bad starts, just not myself. I was frustrated. I feel like I’m capable. I feel like I have the right equipment obviously, the right team. You see my teammate having a lot of success. It was a struggle for me. Getting mentally kind of down on myself during the week. It’d be pretty easy for me to go the cliché route and just say that it was just easy for me to keep going and keep going, but it’s tough when I know I’m capable of something and I continue to kind of blow it. A lot of times in the lead I’ve been washing the front end, and especially in outdoors. It’s been a long time coming for me. Actually, before this week I was watching old videos of Ricky Carmichael. I think it was Washougal 2006. He was battling with James Stewart. It just looked like to me, and this may be an exaggeration, but it just looked like to me he would rather die than lose. I feel like that’s the mentality that I came in with today. That first moto I was leading and I was like, I will pass out and die before somebody passes me. That’s probably a little bit of an exaggeration, but that’s the mentality I came in with today. You can see with that him sometimes [pointing at Zach Osborne]. He’s a perfect example. When he goes out there it looks like he’s laying it all on the line. That’s what I did today and it worked out for me.
Obviously, you’ve got a good combination. You’ve got a good team. You’ve got great talent. And now it looks like you may have figured out a formula. I realize we only have one more race left in the season. I’m sure that’s kind of a disappointment knowing that you’re just getting where you want to be. What does that mean taking this first win? What does it mean for you heading into the Ironman with one more round to go?
Cianciarulo: Even after today getting that first moto win, it’s like when I was in the lead I got the holeshot. Vividly coming around the first corner I consciously thought to myself, there is no way I can blow this lead again. I’m just not going to blow it. I just can’t do it. Once I got that first moto win off my back, going to the line that second moto I felt so much lighter, so much less pressure. When you’re capable of something and you have your team and everybody behind you and they all know you can win and they all kind of expect you to win, which they should, and when it hasn’t been happening—I haven’t even been on the podium this year—it kind of builds up weekend to weekend. It’s like, all right, this is the weekend. All right this is the weekend. And then it doesn’t happen and it’s like, man, we only got two more chances. So, once I got that first moto win going to the line in the second moto I was like, “Let’s do this thing, baby.” I think it just bodes well for me for the next race, and also just going into next season. Having won races indoors and out now, I think I’m ready to take that next step, be one of the elite guys and hopefully contend for championships.
Zach, congratulations to you, man. I’ve followed your career for a long time as well and seeing you be able to achieve the national title here today was special. I know that you had a very healthy points lead coming into this one. The idea was that you wanted to keep that healthy points lead and secure the championship right here at Budds Creek. I know that in moto one it got a little bit iffy I think. There was a lot of craziness that happened out there. Take us through your race day today and how you finally pulled it all together.
Zach Osborne: The first moto was tough. I wanted that gate … gate one on the inside since five or six weeks ago. I felt good about it and I felt comfortable with it. Just didn’t get off the gate very good and got down in the first turn and was down with a couple of guys and had to battle back on a track that was pretty tough to pass on. But that’s kind of been the way of my series. I think the last holeshot I got was … I don't know. The only one I know is Hangtown. It’s been a while. So, it’s not like it’s been holeshots and rainbows all summer. I’ve had to battle from the back a lot. So, it’s something that I’ve kind of gotten used to even though I do really good starts during the week. I just haven’t brought them to the weekend, so it was really frustrating for me to be down in the first turn and having a mediocre start before going down in the first turn. So, coming to the second moto, they were all doing math at the truck, but I knew that it would be easiest if I just won the moto. So, I put myself in a position to do so. I just felt really comfortable in the lead on a really rough track. Can’t say a whole lot more.
What was that emotion? What were the feelings that you were feeling in the final laps of the moto in the race today whenever you realized that the championship was basically in hand?
Osborne: When I passed the mechanics’ area on the last lap and saw my whole team cheering and everything, I got cold chills. It kind of all hit me. This season has come with its own set of challenges, not so much racing, but personally. I found out that I was going to be a dad for the second time on Fathers’ Day at High Point, and then the week before Millville we found out that my wife had had a miscarriage, so that was a really tough thing for us. It’s been more personal and learning how to carry this championship. I’ve been on the red plate since the first moto of the season, so it’s been a new learning experience for me and just personally some battles. It’s hard to not bring those to the weekend, but if you know me you know my wife is a huge part of my program and we don’t miss a beat together. It was a time where I needed to be there for her, rather than her for me, and at the same time be there for myself as well. It was a bit of a different dynamic. There’s a plan for everything. I’m here 11 years later from the moto that everyone knows. To sit here and be a champion, just don’t ever give up on anything you believe in and it’ll happen.
Thinking about the future. Next week we know we’ve got the Ironman, but what is in the future for Zach Osborne right now? What’s your future plans? I know that you want to go probably win maybe at Ironman. Are you stepping up [to the 450 Class]? What’s the deal here? What’s going on?
Osborne: My plan was if I won the championship and then I was going to ride the 450, then I would ride the 450 at Ironman. If I was going to ride the 450 at des Nations, I would ride the 450 at Ironman, but I’m not going to do that. I’ll just ride my normal 250 next weekend.
Cianciarulo: Dang it!
Osborne: [Laughs] Then for next year, I’ve signed again with Husqvarna to do 250 supercross and 450 outdoors, so I’ll be moving up to the big class next year outdoors for sure.
Zach, I think we all are familiar with your history here. Was it extra special? Did it mean something significant to clinch here?
Osborne: Yeah. It’s the same thing as my first win last year. Like I said last year, it’s ironic and it’s just fitting to the bill of my career and the path of my career. It’s awesome to wrap it up here at a track that I really love and enjoy. I don't know what else to say. It’s just the way things happen.
Adam, even for you, you made your pro debut here four years. One, did you think it would take this long? Two, what’s it mean to do it here? Anything special?
Cianciarulo: I think it’s interesting because I think—no disrespect, because I was just as bad—I think Zach and I at our pro debuts, we could have had a competition to see who was most unfit. I got the holeshot here and went to 14th in about a blink of an eye.
Osborne: I got 18th.
Cianciarulo: I pretty much crapped my pants. I tucked the front end and I was like, thank God I’m out of here. It’s crazy. Like he said, he won the championship here and of course making his pro debut here didn’t go so well. Same thing for me. I think I went 14-16 for 15th I think. It’s been a struggle for me. Coming and getting hurt and having the shoulder injuries, man, there’s been a couple times where I about called it quits. It’s just the truth. You build up from being hurt. It takes me so long to get back. It took me so long to get back. My body was growing. I was kind of going through everything and it just seemed like life wouldn’t let me win. It was just one thing after the other. There were probably four or five things you guys don’t even know about that I never even said. It was difficult. Just this year to be able to win supercrosses again and to win an outdoor race, it’s its own victory. Of course, I’d like to be more in the championship. I’d like to be where he is. That’s the ultimate goal, but for me it did take longer than expected but it’s more rewarding. I did come from rock bottom. There was a couple times where like after Charlotte GP last year, the bruised shoulder that I had that I think everybody knows wasn’t a bruised shoulder. For a week I’m like, what am I doing? It’s like my fifth shoulder surgery and I’ve got the scars to prove it. To come back from that and to be where I am, I think coming out of amateurs everybody kind of was like— I was the hype kid—and everybody thought I was going to come in and do well right away. Having that kind of expectation kind of fade away now, I’m not looked at that way anymore. I’ve kind of done it my own way, and I’m proud of that.
Today you said you re-upped with Pro Circuit [Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki]. How important was it for you to stay there? Rumor was a lot of teams were coming after you.
Cianciarulo: It’s awesome. Those guys have stuck by me through everything, both Kawasaki and Pro Circuit. I’ve been Kawasaki since 2004. I was seven years old. I’ve been with Pro Circuit since I was about 12 years old. Mitch and Bruce and Dan and Zach at Pro Circuit and Kawasaki, those guys have always been so supportive of me. It’s difficult for me to describe how bad I felt when I kept getting hurt. I felt like I was letting those guys down. They invested so, so much in me as an amateur, and they invested in me to win. I completely understand that. Just for them to stick by me and never really complain. They never put pressure on me. They let me come around at my own pace. They’re like family to me. It’s a special feeling.
Adam, you’re sitting next to a national champion now. Does it give you hope maybe one day 11 years from now you’ll get that 250 title?
Cianciarulo: Yeah, as long as I get it done. I don’t care if it takes 20.
Zach, is it true that Matthes actually brought you back from Europe? I think he likes to claim that.
Osborne: He claims that. Sure.
In the other fit of irony, the track owner here, Jonathan Beasley, says he was the only American to witness your lone GP win in Turkey.
Osborne: Sure enough. We were far, far too east to be comfortable as Americans, but we got her done that day.
The first moto, you even had some small bike problems. There was a little smoke coming out. I don’t know if you even saw it. And a first-turn crash too. Just talk about all the trials and tribulations of that first moto.
Osborne: Like I said, it’s kind of the way of my season. I’ve been down in the first turn more than once. It was kind of fitting. I hate it. I hate battling from the back. I’m over it. I’m sick of it. It’s been a tough summer, in particular Washougal was a really hard day for me. It took me a couple weeks to recover. In general, the grind has worn on me a little bit here the last couple weeks. Like I said, it’s been a big adjustment personally to be in this position. To wrap it up today is a huge, joyous, grateful occasion, but at the same time it’s a big relief and something that feels like a weight taken off almost.
Adam, second moto, at one point believe it or not, I think [Shane] McElrath was in position for the overall, or maybe [Jeremy] Martin was going to edge you. Did you know all that?
Cianciarulo: No. I was done doing math in my head. I did math in my head at Washougal and I’m like, I’m just not going to let anybody pass me. I said to myself, we’re going down. Whoever passes me and if it’s for the overall … I thought it was Martin behind me. I thought he had got up. I think it was Plessinger actually. I don’t even know. Whoever I passed, the next guy, I was just focused on him. If I started thinking backwards, I knew that’s when it was going to go bad. I feel like that’s been a lot of my problem. I think that’s one of my main problems. You got to be kind of on the offensive the whole time. As soon as you start doing the whole math thing and kind of riding defensive, that’s when the mistakes come. All it takes is to drop a second and a half a lap or two seconds and three or four guys go by you. That was something I really, really didn’t want to have happen today.
Does part of being on the defensive come from “I have to not get hurt?” Three years of “I’m trying not to get hurt, I’m trying not to get hurt?” Is that where that comes from?
Cianciarulo: I don’t think so. You’re probably going to think I’m lying, but I really have never gone out on the track and said, or even thought about getting hurt. Really never. Even my first day back on the bike after a shoulder injury or something like that, it’s actually been something I’ve been fortunate to kind of mentally overcome that. I think it’s just one of those things where I didn’t want to fail, more than I wanted to succeed. I was like, I just don’t want to blow it again. I don’t want to blow it again. I don’t want to blow it again. I saw those halfway marks at Unadilla and I’m like, let’s do this thing, baby! I just grabbed a handful of front brake and tucked the front end. I’m like, I cannot think like that today. This week, I was just angry. That’s how you have to come into these things. I rode with emotion. I rode with anger, instead of riding trying not to fail.
Adam, I did feel slightly bad for you because normally with an overall win you’re going to roll up on the stage first. Zach got to do it this time, but he said he had a similar situation last year.
Cianciarulo: I won Vegas and he won the championship at Vegas, so it is what it is. It’s all good. He won the championship. He can push that bike up on the podium. I don’t care, man. I’m stoked to get the first one out of the way. I’m happy for people. I’m happy for people that work hard and accomplish their goals. Doesn’t really take away anything. There might be one less article about me. Weege or Matthes, you guys might not write as many words about me, but I don’t read your stuff anyway.
Zach, you said the same thing happened to you last year here.
Osborne: Yeah. Cooper [Webb] won the championship and it was my first overall. It was kind of the same feeling. So, when it was time to do trophies and stuff, it was Adam’s turn to be in the middle and I wanted to give him that opportunity. So, I tried to respect that he was the winner today and give him his due.
Do you defend these titles next year, both the supercross and the outdoor?
Osborne: Just the supercross. I’m going to defend the supercross, and I want to ride the 450 outdoors. It’s something I ride every week at home and I’m making good progress with. So, it’s an opportunity that I’m looking forward to. I’m 27, about to be 28 years old and it’s time to move up. I finally got my opportunity to do so. A lot of people think that those jobs and rides are easy to come by even when you’re a champion, and they’re not. It’s my turn and my time so I’ll be moving up for outdoors next season.