By Jason Weigandt and Steve Matthes
Ryan Dungey, Red Bull KTM, 1-1 for first in 450MX
Ryan Dungey: First moto got off to a good start. [Justin] Brayton edged me out there, and he came from the outside and took the holeshot away from me. But about three, four corners in, I was able to make the pass happen and from there just tried to really just take off. Found some good lines, kind of searched a little bit. Opened up a gap, and then was able to maintain that and came away with the win.
Second moto also got a good start. Made the pass right before the finish line on the first lap. [Justin] Bogle edged me out on that start. Then, from there, I opened up a little bit of a gap, and I saw at the bottom of Screw U one lap I had a good size little gap and I was trying to open that up. The next lap, I saw [Ken] Roczen right there closing in. I’m like, all right, he’s putting on a really big push. He rode strong. We were pushing a good pace the whole moto and really fighting for it. I know he really wanted it, as did I. Even though it didn’t affect the overall for me I still would like to take home maximum points and an overall. I think a little bit of High Point, that one time he edged me out there, so I really wanted to fight for this one. It was good to hang on strong and come away with a 1-1 win today. It was exciting.
We’ve talked about it before about you and lap traffic. How would you rate yourself in lap traffic today, because some of the moves I saw you make were very decisive and pretty aggressive?
Better today. There was one instance where you probably couldn’t even see it, any of the fans or anyone unless you were watching TV and they were filming us, but I went to find an outside line and that thing went to nowhere, way out there. That was the only instance that I struggled with. But overall I think today was much better. Seemed like some guys were way off at different lines than mine, so that worked. And that’s always a bummer too, if that’s going to be the deciding factor of me and Ken [Roczen]. Obviously it’s racing, but if you’re going to lose, let it be that you lost hands down, not because somebody got in the way or anything. I think both of us would want it the way it was today, just a good hard-fought race to the finish. When you get that two-lap board, you’re kind of pulling out the sprint mode again. It definitely elevates your game and challenges you and pushes you to the limit.
Were you just relieved to actually start ahead of Justin Barcia? He had seven holeshots in a row.
[Laughs] I kept replaying in my head the last two weeks how at Washougal he’s like, I got all seven of them. I didn’t realize that! I knew he was pulling holeshots, but he was definitely stringing them off. I really tried to work on that these last two weeks. This gate here is tricky. Behind the gate it’s really slippery; it’s hard. It’s a really fine line on how much gas and clutch and letting the clutch out. So yes, it was good to get a couple starts because he’s a fighter. He’s going to fight you and so forth, as I would expect anybody. For my sake it was good to get two good starts today.
Can you comment on Motocross of Nations? You’ve gone six years in a row; that’s as many in a row as anyone, ever. You’ve raced more than anyone during this time with other races as well.
The last six years I’ve gone. The years we’ve won obviously have been amazing. The years we’ve lost, still ended up on the podium, still amazing. I enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun without a doubt. I realized last year that it just comes a time that’s… we finish up our season way earlier these days. When it’s five weeks away, and I did it last year, you take two weeks off and you’re trying to get ready for that and I go over there half ready. I don’t like to race any race half-assed. Not only that, but it cuts into the off-season, so your window’s smaller. And then we have Monster Cup, and now we have Red Bull Straight Rhythm, which are fine—that we’ll do still. But I really feel like this is good for me just to be able to get some time off. By no means am I disrespecting the country. I definitely want to do this, but it just doesn’t come at a good time. You line up at Anaheim, and you don’t really give yourself that break. I realized last year how important that is to just unwind and be able to step away from it a little bit, because if I take two weeks off, I’m going to have to get back on the dirt bike and go racing and back in race mode. So this way I get a nice break. I don’t really feel like it’s fair to my fans and my team and my sponsors when I show up on the gate half-assed at Anaheim 1. Long story short, that sums it up. But I wish the guys the best. I want to see them take it home. Last three years, it’s been hard to stand on the third or the second step. It’s nice to stand on top. They’ve got a good team. Those Yamahas are pretty strong off the gate! –Jason Weigandt
Justin Barcia, Autotrader.com/Toyota/JGR Yamaha, 2-4 for second in 450MX
Justin Barcia: Practice is never very great for me, so that’s nothing new. I’m a racer. I make everyone nervous when I qualify twelfth, but we get it done when the gate drops. I wanted to run with Ryan in the first moto. I don’t remember the last time I didn’t get a holeshot. I started fifth, had to pass up to second, and then charged hard, but just couldn’t close the gap. Our times were pretty close, just couldn't close it. During the break before the second moto, I told myself obviously I want to go for the overall and get the win. I struggled a little with setup the first moto, so I wanted to make a change, and unfortunately I went the wrong way. I just struggled the second moto. I don’t remember the last time I struggled so bad. It was cool. Coy [Gibbs] came up after the race to the podium, and he’s like, “Dude, just think about it. Two months ago you probably would have not even finished that moto. You probably would have put it on the ground.” In a way I’m like, “Yeah, that’s probably true.” But luckily I salvaged a fourth, and it was good for second overall. So for me it’s definitely a frustrating day, but the team’s happy. Obviously a bad day with second overall is good. The second moto was brutal. The track was definitely challenging. It was tough.
The fans here though, obviously they were behind you. When you were on the podium after the second moto they were just absolutely crazy. Does that help at all to ease the pain from this second overall?
It’s a little more stressful than anything. It’s just so much going on during the day. I have a lot of old friends I see here, and I really want to say hi and hang out for a few minutes, but it’s impossible with the schedule they give us to work with during the races. It’s definitely frustrating during the day when you have so many people you know here. I’ve learned to kind of just put that away and just worry about racing and stuff. All around it was just a challenging day. I didn't ride to my potential, and I didn’t feel super comfortable on my bike. But actually [Weston] Peick made a strong charge behind me in the second moto. They made a bike change, which obviously was a good change. That’s what’s good about having teammates. He made a change that was better; I made a change that was worse. Now I know I won’t go that way ever again. I’ll try his stuff this week and see how that is.
Obviously you’re a home-state guy, but you don’t get to race on this track like the guys at Millville would. It’s only open for the national or a GP. Do you even feel like this track really favors your riding style at all?
I always thought that it should favor my riding style, but today it was very weird. They didn’t rip it as deep as usual. It wasn’t as wet as usual. Obviously the ruts were pretty hard-pack. It was slick underneath. I don’t know—I just struggled with the track today. Coming in last night and just thinking about it, I thought I would definitely have the opportunity to maybe go 1-1 today. That was my goal. And the day was a super struggle. Kind of mind opening a little bit. I was just like, darn. What can you say? Ryan rode great the first moto, and a couple other boys rode really good the second moto. Good to see Trey [Canard] back up on the podium too. That’s really cool—second race back. I know I’m going to have some more challengers now. –Weigandt
Marvin Musquin, Red Bull KTM, 4-1 for second overall in 250MX
Marvin Musquin: First of all, practice went really, really well, especially that first one. Bike was running really well, and the track was obviously kind of flat. It was not bumpy, but had really nice lines. I was kind of impressed. I’m feeling great. But last year I think we got some rain the day before the race, so it made the track softer and more rutted. This year it was rutted, but underneath it got pretty hard and slippery. It was different than last year, but still I was really looking forward to the motos. I couldn’t get both motos with good starts. Good thing I was inside so I could cut inside and be in the top, at least the top five. Decent starts, not the best. In the first moto, I made a really small crash right away. That was not good. I was not happy but then I made some good passes and I got to fourth place. Something happened with my goggles. I think I maybe got a rock or something and my lens popped out. That’s really bad luck. I was struggling with the vision—a lot of dirt inside the goggles just flying every time I would jump. I slowed down a couple times trying to shake my goggles and get rid of that dirt and it would help, but every time I would catch the guy in front of me I would get more and more dirt inside. So it was a big struggle. Watching Jeremy Martin winning that first moto and me right there, I couldn't make the pass and got fourth. It’s hard. It was tough, but these things happen, no one’s fault. I have a great team behind me. The Red Bull KTM team, those people, they are amazing people and Franky [mechanic] and Mathilde [wife]. We regrouped and came back strong in that second moto. Not the good start again, but still right there. I couldn’t find a great rhythm, and I was kind of fighting with the track. Couldn’t make the passes, but obviously the guys in front of me kept crashing and made it easy on me. As soon as I got second I knew I could pass Joey [Savatgy]. I felt great and I went for the pass. Obviously, Cooper [Webb] was behind me and really pushing and putting pressure on me. We came really close a couple times, but it was like Washougal. I’m fighting for the championship. So I closed the door a couple times and we ran into each other a couple times, once….
We saw that one. That looked like it surprised you a bit.
The lap before, he came really close, but the next lap he really ran into me and hit me. Good thing we didn’t crash and we kept going. I was ready for those two laps at the end. I was confident, and I knew I could hold him. Obviously he crashed and made it easy on me, but it gave Jeremy 2 points because he DNF’d. It’s a crazy championship right now. Four more motos—it’s going to be tough, but we are ready.
Are you enjoying being in this championship battle, or is it nerve-racking for you?
Obviously, it’s better being in that position than being fourth or fifth in the championship. Got to deal with it and try our best. That’s all I can do. We all work so hard. I want to give 100 percent, even more sometimes. Try my best and we’ll see what happens. When you see Jeremy making mistakes also, so you never know what can happen.
Once you knew Webb tried to run it in on you once, were you extra worried because you were like, man, he might try to be really aggressive here?
Obviously, you don’t want to crash. I feel like Cooper, he has nothing to lose, obviously, but still I think that’s his style. He will do anything to pass somebody. He came really close, and that’s racing. I actually thought it was Jeremy, honestly, until maybe four laps to go, and I looked back and saw the #17. But still I didn’t want him to pass. That was the 3 points difference if I were to get second. I was ready to fight and hold him to that first place, and then he crashed. But it was a good fight.
Jeremy Martin, Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha, 1-5 for third overall in 250MX
Jeremy Martin: Moto one was good. I got a good start. As long as I’m in the top five, I know I’m going to be there. My fitness is there. It’s on point with all the best guys here in 250 and 450. I just rode a smart race. I had a great battle with Joey and Christian Craig and Chris Alldredge. And I was able to get the win.
Let’s talk about moto two and what happened.
I just spun pretty good on the gate. At this point it’s just down to the starts. Everyone’s fast. Marvin and I were having a good battle. It makes it interesting for the fans. I enjoy it. I love feeling that pressure. That’s why I started racing in the first place. It’s good. Last year was significantly easier, and this year’s tough, and I like it. I like the challenge. I’ve always been a fighter. Growing up, things were kind of tough, so it’s nothing new.
Second moto, you were thirteenth in the first lap. Just explain why it was so tough that you couldn’t just pick dudes off quickly.
I think, when you’re coming through the pack, Unadilla’s one of a kind. You’ve got rocks everywhere. And then there’s a lot of guys going everywhere. Got to try to be smart and make aggressive moves that are going to stick. I just struggled a little bit, but I just never gave up.
Is there anything you can even do big changes at this point, or is it just stick to the program and just execute these last four motos? Is it too late in the year to make huge changes to anything?
Yeah, it’s too late. You don’t even really want to make changes to your bike or anything like that. At this point your fitness is as good as it’s going to get, so right now you’re just putting in your time. You’re having a little fun when you’re away from the track. Motocross is a big part of my life, but it’s not everything. We have four more motos left. I’m excited. It’s good stuff. –Weigandt
Trey Canard, Honda HRC, 3-6 for third overall in 450MX
Trey Canard: Moto number one was good. I had a pretty decent start. Was able to be right behind Barcia. Lost it down at the bottom of Screw U and lost one position. I just couldn’t get around Bogle. Justin [Barcia] was kind of gone by then. I’m happy to be back racing. It’s tough. It’s really hard to come back and race with these guys that have been doing it all year. In general, it’s just tough to come back from injury. I’m just happy to be here and trying to make the most of it. Obviously disappointed with my second-moto finish. I gave it my best, and that’s all I can really ask for.
When you say it’s tough, can you kind of break it down?
You basically stop. After Detroit [crash and injury], you have surgery as soon as you can, and then as soon as you can start doing things you start doing life things. Before you know it a month’s passed and you’re kind of training, but you’re not really getting after it. Even when you start riding, I didn’t start riding for a few months, and even when I started it was kind of just turn track type stuff. It’s tough. It’s definitely gotten more difficult each time. I’ve had so many of them. It’s hard to pick yourself up off the ground. I was pretty disappointed after Detroit, so it’s good to be back. I know I’m not where I want to be by any means, but I’m happy to finish on the podium. I got a couple gifts with Roczen and [Christophe] Pourcel going down in the first moto. Happy to be here, and looking forward to the next two.
The second moto, it was good for most of it and you lost three spots at the end. What happened there?
I wasn’t comfortable at all the second moto. I know everyone’s kind of said it: the track was really tough. It was hard-packed and soft and rutty all at the same time, bumpy and blue-groove and mushy. It was tough. It’s hard for me to really want to hang it out and take those risks when I’m only my second race in. I know in prior years I’ve made those mistakes and got hurt again. I’m trying to just be smart about it and let it come. I know that I won’t be right there by any means, but I still want to do my best. But I’m not going to hang it out. I was mostly bummed that I lost that spot in the last two laps. I was talking to Barcia on the podium, and I told him the steamroller was coming. Peick was just steamrolling the bumps out there.
We have a few days obviously to go to Utah. Is there anything that you’re looking at to develop the bike because you’re so new back, even though it’s so late in the season?
That’s a huge part of coming back. I obviously wouldn’t have come back if I didn’t feel like I was ready by any means. I feel like I was as ready as I was going to get at home. I needed to come to the race to make improvements. I feel like these next couple races are very important for me for next year as far as bike setup and working on our weaknesses and trying to figure things out. Each race will help us when we come into next year and we’re that much further ahead. I think we’ve made progress. We’ve definitely made progress since Washougal. Hopefully next weekend we come in a little more prepared. –Weigandt
Ken Roczen, RCH/Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s Suzuki, 16-2 for fifth in 450MX
Ken Roczen: My day today was all right. I had a little bit of bad luck in the first moto. I didn’t grab the best start. Pourcel crashed in front of me and I endoed right there. My front brake was bent up, so I think there were a lot of errors coming in there. After the first lap I just pulled in real quick and they bent it back down. I had no front brake the whole race. It’s kind of tough because you go down to that Screw U turn; I just plowed down there and went into the soft dust so I could actually stop and turn. It’s kind of tough on that track to ride without a front brake. But it was what it was. Put it all on the line the second one. Got a lot better start and battled with Dungey the whole way. It was a really fun race. I think I should have switched up my line in a coupe of spots, like right before the finish line. That’s where he always gained on me. But it was a fun race. I gave it my all, and we were quite far ahead of the third. So it was a good race. He got it today. He rode really well. He rode well all year. But for me, we made some little changes on the bike that helped me turning a lot. Overall it was a better weekend for me. It feels good to be back up front and battle it out. –Weigandt
Dean Wilson, Red Bull KTM, 11-10 for tenth in 450MX
Dean Wilson: Yeah, the parachute came out pretty heavy in the first moto. Just both motos I was running like a seventh each time. The first one, I hit a wall pretty hard—I wouldn’t lie.
It was your first race back.
We’ll throw some excuses out there—first race back, fitness wasn’t great. But definitely for the second moto I felt better for sure. Mid-race, I hit a little bit of a wall again, but I slowed down, got passed by Peick and [Blake] Baggett. And I said, I’m not going to try and battle with these guys. I’m just going to try and regroup and then come back. So I came back and I was starting to catch up toward the end, and then [Broc] Tickle was all over me and he got me. I was pissed. But he rode well. –Steve Matthes
Aaron Plessinger, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha, 16-3 for eighth in 250MX
Racer X: Let’s just think it was a one-moto format today and you got third. I guess at the end of the day that’s what really matters. You got on the podium again. You backed up your Washougal result. Yeah, it sucked first moto, but still a good day.
Aaron Plessinger: Yeah, I got off to a really good start in the first moto. Unfortunately went down and kind of had to retaliate and got sixteenth. I think I came from deep, thirtieth or something.
You were thirty-second the first time I saw you come around after the crash.
It was a pretty tough first moto, but I retaliated with the second moto and just pushed hard and people crashed. Ended up third and it was a good weekend.
It was a steady second moto for you, like you said. Some guys went by you, but then some guys fell and you went by them. You kind of weren’t really challenged the whole way. It was a nice, I don’t want to say easy third, but you know what I mean.
Yeah. People went by me and then I got back by them. Passed [Jessy] Nelson, and then Cooper went down, and then I ended up third, so it was a good weekend.
What’s your take on the track?
It’s awesome. I love this track.
Kind of your roots, right?
It’s kind of my style. I’ve been here for GNCCs before, but never really rode the whole moto track. It’s an amazing track. –Matthes
Cooper Webb, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha, 18-23 for twenty-first in 250MX
Racer X: Not the day you wanted to have. You were putting on a good show in that one moto. It would have been exciting, but man, it looked nasty. You all right?
Cooper Webb: Yeah, just beat up. It was a good and bad day. Kind of a dream come true day to be picked for des Nations on the MX3 class. That was a killer thing for me. It’s unreal.
When’d you get the call?
On Wednesday, but when you’re standing there and all the fans are going crazy for you it’s pretty cool. It was a rough day. First moto, I think I was running sixth, making a move, and crashed, stuck under my bike for a little bit.
Bad start too, huh?
Yeah, bad start. And then that one kind of sucked. Got just inside the top twenty. Second moto, I got a good start for I think where I was, but me and Marvin basically battled for thirty plus a half. It was a fun race.
Tried to stick it in on him a few times. That was exciting.
Yeah, he was still doing some stuff. But tried to make a couple things happen, and those last couple laps, the lapper didn’t help, but it was fun. I should have probably waited a lap if I was going to go for that double, but I had done it earlier in the moto.
I was going to say, I’d never seen anybody do it, and I thought that was the first time you tried it.
No, I did it earlier in the moto and barely made it. But I knew if I could make it, I could pass him. Just hit a little kicker and ate it. –Matthes