What a crazy, crazy night in Arlington. And oddly, on a night with some many crashes and weird bike problems, the podium belongs to riders who are still relatively new to the 450SX trade, and have also had some consistency issues this season. But on a hard, slick track that bit a lot of riders, Marvin Musquin [Red Bull KTM], Jason Anderson [Rockstar Energy Husqvarna] and Cole Seely [Honda HRC] took the top three spots.
The win is the first in Musquin’s 450SX career, and nice redemption after coming within a lap of a win almost exactly a year ago, in Atlanta. For all three of these riders, the journey hasn’t always been smooth, but on this night, they were smoother than everyone else.
They talked about it on stage in the post-race press conference.
Racer X: Marvin Musquin, the moment you’ve been waiting for for a long time. We’ll go back to Atlanta. One lap to go you were so close you could taste it. You come into this one, the track’s slick, you’re in lap traffic. How nervous were you? Were you counting the time on the stopwatch every single second?
Marvin Musquin: Well, actually I was super calm. I was trying to stay relaxed and not put any pressure on myself. I had a great start and then I was basically pacing myself with the guys behind. Pacing myself – I was obviously trying hard but I was looking behind and the gap was pretty good. Cooper was behind and then I guess he crashed. Then I was looking at Cole. He was in second place. I was just doing my things and doing my laps. Like I said I stayed really calm and it happened. I didn’t make any big mistakes and I stayed on my bike. Last year in Atlanta I had the pressure with Ryan Dungey behind me and today I was just like pretty much by myself. So it’s kind of, not weird, but definitely more relaxed. So I think if I would have won at Atlanta last year it would have been maybe even more crazy than today, with the pressure of Ryan behind. But today it was definitely more relaxed, but I’m really happy.
Jason, good ride. It seems like you have good performances when weird things happen earlier in the day. We’ll go back to your first victory at Anaheim with the qualifying thing, and then today you had the loop-out and a couple flips with the bike, but then you rebound in the main event, have a good, solid performance, and you come around in third place. Good turnaround for you.
Jason Anderson: Yeah, for sure. My practice day was good. I went into that heat race and then Mookie took a digger and his bike went up in the air. I just got clotheslined and looped out. My bike was in another section. So to come back from that and end up on the podium, I’m super psyched. It feels like it’s been a while. It’s cool to be on the podium and I want to stay up here. It’s good.
Second place, Cole Seely. Cool, calm, and collected. Good, solid main event. Second place. Getting closer to that victory. I know you want it real bad. What’s it going to take to move up one more step on the ladder for you?
Cole Seely: I think just keep doing what we’re doing, really. It’s definitely working. We’re definitely figuring this new bike out for sure. The team’s done an awesome job. I really got to hand it off to Andrew Short. He’s been awesome with testing and helping me stay mentally strong while I’m out there, and obviously my riding coach Jeff Ward. I think we’re just putting in the time and it’s paying off.
Is there any particular obstacle throughout the course this evening that perhaps made you hold your breath as you were approaching it or anything?
Seely: Yeah, for me at least the whoops. The second set in particular. Then I could see Marvin picking his front wheel up and doing something crazy in there. That’s how he was gapping me there. So I just did my best impression of what I thought he was doing and it actually ended up being really quick. I would say that was the hardest part for me.
Anderson: This rhythm section right here on the side. There were different ways you could do it. You could go double three. In the main it was super tough. Obviously the whoops broke down. Marv always jumps through it. It’s the French way to do it I guess! For me I was just blitzing them and it was like, those edges are gnarly. The track was tough. It was technical for sure.
Musquin: Yeah, I think the whoops. Like they said, they were actually decent size in practice but they definitely broke down and we were able to jump through. That’s the way I like to do it. I know I can be really consistent when I do those kinds of things. It was fun but it got choppy before, like in the turn. When you jump you really have to land it nice and precise because if you land sideways or you come up short in one of the whoops it can be pretty sketchy. A lot of crashes [in the whoops] during practice as you could see. Other than that it was definitely a good track. Not narrow, but really tight actually. The big triple right there and then we were going inside in a really tight turn. It was technical but really hard to pass I think.
All three of you guys had a really good main event, but for a lot of other guys it was madness. There were a lot of guys pulling into the pit, repeated crashes. Are you aware of any of that while you’re out there or are you caught up at all? Anderson: As everyone knows, my starts aren’t the greatest, so the whole time as I was coming through the pack I saw almost every single thing happen. With Cooper, I don’t know what happened. It looked like a bike issue. Then Tomac pushed the front end on the landing on the triple. It was crazy in the back of the pack. Then I don’t know what happened to Tomac but we ended up lapping him. It was madness. Lucky to survive it, I guess.
Seely: I obviously saw what happened with Cooper. I don’t know if he had a flat or whatever, but obviously something happened. That was the only one I was aware of. I kind of caught a glimpse of Tomac’s deal in the corner of my eye when he went down. You were kind of almost riding at 80% and if you could try and push it, it was really a risk of “Am I going to make up a tenth or two, or am I going to lose half a second to a second by making a huge mistake?” So it was like an ice rink out there. It was really slick.
Musquin: I think it’s all about the dirt. Like we said, the whoops but also the turns got some good ruts but it started to get choppy and a little icy. You could see some shiny spots. In some spots you could get really, really good traction but underneath it would get super hard. So you really had to be careful. I think when you’re trying to pass some of the guys you’re trying a little too hard sometimes and you make mistakes. I think the whoops also the dirt got super, super hard and maybe a little bit rocky and, definitely some rocks, I think. But it was pretty sketchy.
The other bit of chaos that we had out there was the restart. Did any of you benefit greatly from the restart compared to where you were?
Anderson: For me, I was way back before because I didn’t have such a good gate pick. It sucks to see someone go down, but the restart definitely helped me. I definitely would have been like eighth or ninth if it wasn’t for that. But it sucks. You don’t ever want to see a red flag.
Seely: I definitely didn’t. I was second when the red flag went out. And I was super bummed. JB’s one of my best friends, so it was tough seeing another rider and especially somebody you’re close with go down. So it was tough for sure. It actually made me mad when we started the second time. I got like a fifth or sixth place start and I was so pissed off that I was super aggressive to get back into third or second or whatever.
Musquin: For me, I was not in the back but I was like middle pack. I didn’t get a great start, so obviously when I saw the red flag, like Jason said it’s a bummer for whoever crashed, and that was Justin Brayton. Hopefully he’s okay. But when that happens you try to stay calm. You have a second chance, basically, and I made it happen. It definitely helped me tonight.
A couple years back you turn the page, you all were all the rookies coming into this class. You all are now on the podium. What’s changed out of the past couple years for yourselves and how had your confidence changed?
Musquin: Actually tonight when I see the podium I’m pretty happy to see Jason and Cole. On the 450 class we’ve been a couple times on the podium and Cole won one main event. Tonight to be together on the podium it’s pretty cool. It proves that we’ve been working hard and anything can happen with good starts and safe main event and consistent. I proved that I was one of the fastest in practice, but like last weekend I got ninth and I was one of the fastest guys. So I proved that anything can happen and you’ve got to put everything together. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s definitely a tough sport but that’s what makes it so exciting.
Anderson: Like Marvin said, I feel like us three, our journey to becoming 450 podium guys is a little bit different. As far as Marvin doing the world championship and coming over here, and then me, it took a little time in the 250 class. It’s cool to see all of us work hard and be up here. It’s cool.
Seely: It’s cool to see these guys up here for sure. I’m not that young, compared to these guys but I’m only in my third year in the 450 class. Our teams have a lot invested in all of us and I think it’s good to show those guys that it’s paying off for sure and that we’re the future of supercross, motocross, whatever it may be. Not saying that the older guys aren’t still fast – that’s for sure.
Anderson: [Laughs] Basically we’re just hyping each other up!
Musquin: I wanted to say you kind of made me feel old because you said it’s been a long time coming. I feel like I’ve been trying for ten years. I’ve been racing here for many years.