By Aaron Hansel and Steve Matthes
Ken Roczen | Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/RCH Suzuki | 2nd in 450SX
I didn’t have the best jump out of the start, but I snuck around the inside and found myself in a good position. I was battling with Ryan [Dungey] again. I passed him and he got me back, made a little mistake and came into a corner too hot and washed the front end. So…[pause] damn, it’s the third time in a row we got second. We’re fighting really, really hard and we’re having a blast. Me and the team and my mechanic are working really hard and really well together to make the bike the best it can be.
You made the pass on him, he got you back. Take us through what it’s like to be in that moment and pick your spots.
Yeah, that was after the triple. I know you have to protect the inside, but there was no berm, so you would have no run in the whoops. I could have snuck around the inside and he probably wouldn’t have passed me, but it is what it is. I’m doing my best out there and trying to make quick decisions.
Last lap with Jason [Anderson]: how did you set that up? How did you make that happen?
Yeah, I was going to go for it again on the last lap. I really liked that outside [through the sand] but it’s really tough because sometimes there would be a rut from another rider that sent you right into the Tuff Blocks. So it was really hard to make it smooth. I was going to go for it on the last lap, but he made a mistake [before that] and I was able to get by. – Courtesy RCH
Justin Brayton | BTOSports.com-KTM-WPS | 9th in 450SX
Racer X: I didn’t see the pass from Anderson, but some people have texted me about it—I guess just the typical aggressive Anderson pass?
Justin Brayton: Yeah, well, the typical is getting really old. It’s just stupid, you know? The guy obviously doesn’t know how to race. He’s done it to me a few times and he’s done it to other people. I mean, I’ve had enough, I don’t know if I can speak for everyone else. It’s right before a triple. He clearly just ran me completely off the track. And what if I had tried to go for the jump? I don’t know, it’s so frustrating. I’m not the kind of guy who is going to sit there and hold someone up. I wouldn’t let him by, but if someone is clearly faster I’m not going to be stupid about it. We had such a big gap on everyone else; I could have just putted around and still finished fourth. It’s just frustrating.
Before then, a good race. You’re always good here. How did you feel?
I felt awesome. Actually going all the way back to Detroit, I felt like I had a podium or top five, flat tire [at that round]. Last week was totally on me I just made a mistake and fell. Now this week it was another top five, and someone did a bonehead move. –Steve Matthes
Justin Barcia | Autotrader.com/Monster Energy/JGR/Toyota Yamaha | 11th in 450SX
I’ve been back for three weeks now and this weekend was better than the last two. I’m building my confidence back up and getting the bike more comfortable. I’m not really sure where we ended up in the main, but I rode better than I have so I think if we keep building, every weekend I’ve been getting better, by the time it’s over I should be in the top five. It would be nice to mix it up a little with the front guys. It’s hard because at Anaheim I was fast and led a few laps and then I was injured. And now I’m struggling. But I’m getting better and better, and tonight was better. The team did a really good job with the bike.
Talk about that frustration a little. Is it discouraging coming back and not being at that level?
Yeah, it is. I’ve had to do it two years in a row now. Last year was a complete meltdown. But this year I’ve been taking it how it comes and trying not to get bummed out with my finishes. It sucks pretty bad getting lapped; it’s pretty terrible. But you know, I’m trying to stay positive. The future is bright right now! I just do the best I can do. The team is capable of winning and I know I’m capable of winning. I was out for a while and it’s hard to get back in that groove. Maybe some guys can do it better, but for me, it’s just taking some time to get my confidence back up and get comfortable on the bike. It’s not fun not being up front, that’s for sure, and for me, I ride a lot better when I’m having fun. It’s been tough, but this weekend was a step in the right direction and I think next weekend will be even better. –Hansel
Blake Baggett | Yoshimura Suzuki | 12th in 450SX
Racer X: Top five last week, then LCQ this week!
Blake Baggett: [Laughs] Yeah, just wrong place wrong time in the semi. Was battling for second and someone went down and I had no where to go. Yeah, so LCQ, outside gate in the main, had nowhere to go.
The main, like Indy, it was kind of a race of attrition. Decent race from you.
Indy was definitely good. Lots of ruts, and this way people can’t move over on you. They have to stay in their line and they’re more worried about just riding the track. It’s more of a race that way. This stuff, it’s not a race, you just get bound up and you’re waiting for the guy behind you to cheap shot you and you have to protect your lines. But I feel like my speed is good. I feel like I’m a top five guy. We definitely started the year late, but from here on out it would be nice to grab some top fives. –Matthes
Broc Tickle | Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/RCH Suzuki | 14th in 450SX
Racer X: Controversy after the race, Anderson thought you held him up.
Broc Tickle: Oh yeah, he wasn’t very happy. I thought maybe I was in his way, but then we came back and watched the video and I wasn’t in his way at all.
It was actually the opposite of being in the way.
Well, I felt like I was in the way the whole race. [Laughs] Tonight was tough. Semi was good, that’s the positive of the night. I felt loose and it felt like it was coming naturally. The main event was tough.
How’s the wrist?
It was tough, some of the back sides of the jumps were steep. That was causing some pain. Yeah, it’s not like I’m not in shape, but I’m just working my way back. I want to get some races in and then come out for outdoors strong. –Matthes
Weston Peick, Autotrader.com | Autotrader.com/Monster Energy/JGR/Toyota Yamaha | 16th in 450SX
Today had a lot of ups and downs. The speed is there, I feel fast, but I’ve just been kind of struggling all year with trying to find the right setting for myself. It’s just one of those things where you try as a team to make something better and try to work with it. It’s a huge learning experience. Sometimes we don’t make the best decisions, from the rider’s point, and going into next weekend we have a game plan for that. Other than that, tonight wasn’t the best finish, but the speed is there. It’s just something we have to work toward.
Talk about that collision you had with James Stewart in the heat.
I wasn’t even close enough to pass the guy. The main line in the rhythm was triple-double-triple and he had done that the lap before. I was committed to the triple and he checked up and went double. I was already committed and he swept right while I was going inside on the triple and I just landed right into the back of him. I didn’t really hit him that hard I don’t think, but he ended up going down. It’s hard to judge stuff like that because everyone is going so damn fast. You don’t have time to cruise the track and wait. It’s risky; we’re all trying to get in the main from the heat. That move wasn’t intentional, I wasn’t planning on passing him. Hopefully he’s all right. It’s just one of those racing incidents nobody can really control. –Hansel
Aaron Plessinger | Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha | 2nd in 250SX
It was a crazy start, just about ran over Martin Davalos. Then came into the sand section and got by Mookie [Malcolm Stewart] because he stalled his bike and I think like five other people went down by him. I got into fifth, made a few passes and got up to Shane [McElrath] in second. It was a great battle, and once I got him I put my head down and charged. Jeremy [Martin] was pretty checked out by then so I played it safe and stayed in second. Now I’m one point behind in the championship.
I just talked to Jeremy and he said he made sure to keep the hammer down when he was in second because he thought you might get encouraged if you saw the gap shrinking.
I mean, he kept it going and I give him props for that. He was riding really, really good. I just need to keep it up going into next weekend.
So you’re trailing by one point now. Does that enter your mind?
I just take it race by race. It’s not really in my mind that much. I mean, it’s certainly back there, but next week is just another race. I’m not going to think about it. I’m not letting it put pressure on me, I’m just going to go in and do what I did the last two weekends.
You’ve certainly been getting a lot more attention after winning last week. Even on track walk there were cameras following you around everywhere. Does that get to you?
It doesn’t really have an effect on me. I just try to play it cool and sometimes I act funny for the camera. They’re there, so why not? I like getting filmed. It’s still pretty new to me, I didn’t really have it coming up through the amateur ranks and last year all the cameras were on Cooper [Webb]. This year it’s new to me and I’m having fun with it. –Aaron Hansel
Gannon Audette | Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki | 5th in 250SX
Got off to a good start, but then Malcolm [Stewart] ended up making a quick pass on me and put me in third. He ended up stalling right in front of me in the sand and I tried wheeling over a Tuff Block to get around him but I ended up crashing. I don’t know what place I got up in but I had to make up a few more spots and ended up fourth and was there most of the race. Then RJ Hampshire got me right at the end. But to come out fifth, it was a good night. Still would have liked to have been in that fourth position, but we’ll take it and move on to next weekend.
Yeah, but fifth with a crash isn’t bad!
Yeah, I’m happy with that. My heart rate skyrocketed for sure after that! But just tried to recover and put in a solid fifteen laps.
Last week you probably would have been ecstatic with a fifth. Talk about how quickly your expectations rise after getting a taste of the podium.
To get on the podium last week was awesome, it exceeded my expectations. But to still come out with a fifth, there’s nothing to complain about. There are a lot of fast guys out there fighting for every position. But I just want to get out and get that holeshot and put in fifteen solid laps. To have a crash and still come out with fifth, I’m happy. It could have been worse; it could have been better. Overall I think it was a good night.
How much of an advantage is it having Pro Circuit machinery?
It helps a lot, especially with starts. It puts me in a good position. There are a lot of good guys on Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, and they’re always trying to help me. Whether it’s something on the track, suspension, anything. They always try to look out and give me their best opinions on things. To have them has been amazing and has helped me a lot with everything. I’m looking forward to the next three races. – Hansel
Tyler Bowers | Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki | 9th in 250SX
Racer X: Really bad start or did you crash in the first turn? Then you crashed on the last lap, which sucked balls?
Tyler Bowers: Yeah, but it was really over before that. I had my anchor out. Bad start. Bunch of guys, same thing that’s going on in this Lites class, guys just going wide open into Tuff Blocks when there’s no room. Lately what I’ve been doing is I go way too hard in the beginning, I don’t breathe the first five laps, and when I finally do breath I have arm pump like mad.
And you’re a veteran. You think you’d know better.
I know! And that’s what makes me so pissed. I know better, I know what to do. I’m fast enough I know what lines to take, I know when to relax and I know when to go hard. It sucks because I thought I was kind of over that. I thought at the beginning of the season maybe I wasn’t in shape yet, but I’m definitely in shape now. I can go good during the week.
You rode well in the West last year. How are your feelings during the week this year?
I’m depressed as shit! I knew I’d have a slow start but I rode like crap in Atlanta. Last week I didn’t ride like myself in the main. But I can ride good. I do right in the heat races. I’ve been fast in qualifying. I’m in shape now and still, something is not going right. –Matthes