The second round of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross provided plenty of championship drama. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac, who entered Glen Helen with the red plate, experienced front brake problems in the second moto and finished 19th. Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin, who won his first career 450 moto in moto one, took advantage with a third place finish to take the overall and the points lead.
The second moto featured a great battle between Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-WPS-KTM’s Blake Baggett and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson, both of whom were going for their first career 450 moto wins. Anderson would eventually make the pass on Baggett and rode to a five second win.
All three riders spoke with the media after the race.
Racer X: Blake, this is kind of a cool day, not only for you obviously getting on the podium, but I believe this is the first podium for your team, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-WPS-KTM with Forrest Butler. How’s that feel to kind of deliver to them?
Blake Baggett: Definitely. I forgot all about that. I got the one for them in supercross, so that was cool. It’s good to start out the second round and end up on the box. First moto didn’t go as planned, by all means. My second moto I turned it around and had a pretty good day. So you can’t ask for anything other than leading a few laps. Jason [Anderson] had a little more speed than me on that last one, but we had a good pace and we had a pretty good gap.
I noticed your energy after the race. Some part of me felt like it was going to be an ecstatic, that was everything, but it seemed like, “Okay, time to go back to work. I feel like I have more in the tank.” Are you looking forward to going back east? I know that you ride really well at Mount Morris [High Point], tracks like that. Is that something you feel in your heart that you can be one of those guys that can be dominant out front?
Baggett: I’ve done it in the past, so it’s in there somewhere. I might have to dig through a few boxes and knock some dust off some stuff, but it’s for sure in there. Just still getting used to the KTM. Just haven’t got a chance to ride it outdoors that much. Kind of trying to figure out what setup is key to me and what I like. In supercross we had it figured out and I was able to race with these guys at the end of the season and battle with them. It might take us a few more rounds before we can put up the good fight, but definitely we’re making improvements and these guys, you can’t take anything away from them. Marvin [Musquin] was solid all day, and Jason was on it.
Jason, man, it seems like we find you on the ground or in weird spots more in outdoors than anything. I can remember back to 2015 seeing these rides from the back of the pack where you’re the fastest guy on the track. What just made it all kind of come together today for you?
Jason Anderson: For sure. I think that first moto was kind of similar to what I always do. I just keep putting myself in bad situations, but I feel like I’m getting better for the most part. I started up a little further towards the front in the second moto. I think I was like seventh or sixth or something like that. I was able to work my way past those guys. But to be honest, as far as my speed and fitness and everything, I feel like I’m on point to be battling for podiums every moto and even wins like I did today. But I need to just be more of a solid guy week-in and week-out and not put myself in such bad situations.
Does it feel to you like that spot’s kind of up for grabs right now? It’s obviously [Eli] Tomac coming away pretty dominant from the first round, but Marvin keeping him close and then obviously today as you could see, anything happens. Do you feel like that spot’s up for grabs or is the competition just deep this year and we’re going to see those different winners?
Anderson: For sure. I don’t think it’s a spot up for grabs. I think no matter what we’re all chasing to win. I just think everyone’s starting to be more hungry. I feel like it’s even getting closer. I feel like Blake’s riding better. Even the guys in the back of the pack, like even Dean [Wilson]. Dean’s been fourth place each weekend. Those guys, they’re not sleepers. We know they’re good. I think we’re all just hungry, and for me especially, I’ve been in the class for three years so I have to start winning or else. I don’t want to be stuck in the same spot. So I need to start winning races. I feel like I’ve had enough time to learn. So it’s time to go.
Marvin, what a day. Capturing you first moto win, overall. You have the red plate now. This is kind of where you want to be.
Marvin Musquin: Obviously the goal is to try to win, especially after last weekend and getting second. Glen Helen is a unique track and to be able to win that first moto was incredible. I got the holeshot and rode pretty good and just consistent and able to grab my first ever win in the outdoors 450. That second moto I really wanted to get a good start. I knew it was going to be tough, rough, and physically tough. So I was top 10, but definitely not in the good position to fight for the win. I was missing a little bit of speed at the beginning. Those guys, especially Blake and Jason were riding really well. I came back to third place and that’s all I could do. that second moto, behind they were not far back and they were pushing. So I just tried to be consistent. To walk away after Glen Helen with the red plate and the first overall it’s unbelievable.
I know these things may not go through your head, but obviously Eli Tomac can have a lot of speed at times. Today watching you ride out there, I never once was watching you and thinking, “Marvin’s on the edge,” or “Something bad is going to happen.” Is that something that you’re looking at, if it does come down to it with Eli, is that something you’re willing to switch off and hang it out there a little bit to run that pace that he can create sometimes?
Musquin: Well, it’s not my style definitely. So I’m just trying to be smooth and trying to be safe, but fast at the same time. Definitely a track like Glen Helen today, it’s really difficult. It’s easy to make mistakes. Maybe you didn’t see me getting squirrelly. I was a little bit tense going down the hills at some points, but it was all good. I kept it on two wheels and I kept it safe. To walk away on two feet right now after Glen Helen, it’s good.
Blake, that second moto off the start you walked a wheelie down the start straightaway. I was kind of marveling at it. You did have that loop-out earlier in supercross. What’s going on with you and wheelie-ing everywhere?
Baggett: Thank goodness I didn’t loop out up here. That would have been really ugly. I’d have probably been missing the back half of my KTM if I’d have done that here. It hooked up and Doug Domokos was a bad dude, so I just let her eat. I just kept her out here. I just let her go.
Jason, next week we’re going to Lakewood. What are you going to do about the altitude?
Anderson: I was okay at Salt Lake [City, supercross], so I feel like we got whatever problems I had fixed for the most part.
Marvin, last week everybody basically crowned Tomac. Does that add any motivation?
Musquin: Then I’m going to answer just like Ryan [Dungey] did. Nobody crowned anybody. I feel like Tomac is a great guy, but like you see this weekend he made some mistakes. It happens to anybody. It’s tough out there. He’s a great rider, but that’s racing. Mistakes can happen and you’ve got to be consistent. It’s only the second round.
You led the second moto last week and Tomac was able to catch you. Then you led the first moto this weekend. No one caught you. So is that actually a little sign of confidence like, “I don’t need to even worry about what’s going on behind me if I just run my deal. I should be able to win these motos.”
Musquin: I feel like anywhere that Tomac starts at one point you kind of feel like he’s going to come. It’s because he’s really fast, but today was definitely different than last week. That’s how it is, racing dirt bikes. Any kind of tracks are different. Definitely this weekend and Hangtown was a lot different. You could see that the gap was each lap … the speed, he was not four or five seconds faster like last weekend. Definitely we proved that Blake or Jason are now able to step it up. With good starts they are able to be out there. So it’s going to be a good fight and a good championship for sure.
Marvin, can you talk about your hat and what it means, why you’re wearing it?
Musquin: It’s a very sad week for everybody in the sport. Everybody that rides a dirt bike knows Nicky Hayden. Thanks to the guys at Red Bull for making those nice hats. It’s very sad. Life is short and anything could happen. We ride bicycles quite a few times a week with Jason and stuff, so I feel like we kind of wanted to pay more attention. But every day.
Jason, obviously your eye is still looking a little rough from last week. Can you talk about the issue last week? Is that a rock that you saw coming? How did it play out?
Anderson: For sure. That incident was kind of crazy. I honestly didn’t see anything coming. I knew I got hit, but the lens or anything didn’t break. The rock hit my goggles so hard that my brain bottomed out right where my eye was right here. It just split and then there was blood everywhere. It’s not even that big of a cut, but whenever you get cut on your head or whatever it just doesn’t stop bleeding. So it kind of freaked me out for the most part because I got hit and then I went off the jump and just saw blood. It’s not as bad as how panicked I was. But luckily I’m all good. It just looks worse than what it is.
Marvin and Jason—Blake, I know you changed a lot on your bike after racing last week. Did you guys do a lot of changes this week or were you pretty happy the way it was going at Hangtown?
Anderson: I didn’t change on thing.
Musquin: Actually I did. I changed a couple things. Definitely improved today, but the KTM is working pretty good. Pretty happy for Austria and everybody doing so much work and Husqvarna and KTM. We have a lot of options right now. I feel like we’re all working together. Everybody knows all the setups and it’s good. I think we’re getting better.
Marvin, the second moto were you trying to catch them and go for the win or were you content where you were in third? How did that second moto play out?
Musquin: It was hard to get going. I knew it was going to be a tough moto, especially with the start I had. I was battling with Jason at the beginning, but he was just quicker. It was hard to push more than what I was doing. So, a little bit bummed about that second moto, but I just tried to be safe and consistent and just came back to a third place and still some good points. That’s all I could do today.
Did you know you’d win the overall?
Musquin: I guessed, yeah. I didn’t know exactly what place Jason got in the first moto, but I knew it was not a third. So I guess. It’s never good to celebrate if it didn’t happen.
Where does this rank among the Glen Helens you’ve ridden before as far as roughness? The downhills looked kind of spooky out there.
Musquin: I felt like it was already really rough from the very first lap of practice. Especially the biggest downhill, I think they didn’t prep it for today. I think they left it rough from yesterday amateur or something. But it’s good. This is motocross. Glen Helen didn’t disappoint me today. It was super rough. Good thing it was not hot today.
Anderson: I think the hills, to be honest, for them not to prep it at the beginning was kind of a bummer because I feel like there’s no skill involved in a hill. You just go fast down it. I just don’t want anyone to get hurt, because those things are so gnarly. To be honest, they should make the hill smooth. We’re just going to go the same speed no matter.
So Jason, do you look at this track as coming into it thinking, “I just need to survive this round? It’s dangerous.”
Anderson: Oh, 100 percent. When you’re out there I think especially going down the hills sometimes you’re not trying to go fast, you’re honestly just trying to hop bumps and not get bucked a little. If you get bucked you can keep going but you hit the next one and the next one … I think the rest of the track was good, I just think the hills were a little bit dangerous. But to be honest, they worked with us. I said something and they fixed it for the second motos and I think the second moto was a lot better whatever they fixed halfway down at least. Just so you’re not getting bucked going into the corner and anything like that.
Musquin: I wanted to say some words about all the jumps. I think this year the track was way better and safer than last year. I know here that every year they want to build the biggest jump in the world, but I’m glad last year no one got hurt. I’m glad this year they mellowed some of the jumps and again everybody’s happy and it was still a good show.
Baggett: The hills, it’s either one way or the other. You either got to have it super rough so you just coast down it and basically you’re on the brakes the whole time, then it brings the speed down. If it gets in the middle, you accelerate for the first few seconds and then you try to get on the brakes. So it’s better just completely gnarly rough where you’re on the brakes from the top, or bone smooth is what I feel is better.