Last Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City, Utah, after 19 laps and 15:53.344 minutes of racing, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo came up 0.455 seconds from winning his first supercross of 2018. And while he was upset with himself for not getting the better of winner Shane McElrath, Cianciarulo kept himself in the war that is the 2018 250SX West Region Supercross Championship.
Now slotted in at second heading into this Saturday’s curtain-dropping round in Las Vegas, the native of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, is 13 points adrift of championship leader Aaron Plessinger. Thirteen points is a relatively large gap to make up in one main event, but as we all know, it’s racing—nothing is ever for certain.
Having placed on the podium at the last four straight races, Adam is on something of a roll and will head into Vegas with really nothing to lose. He won in Vegas last year and dearly wants to win there again to put an exclamation mark on his season. And, hey, if Lady Luck looks his way over in Sin City, he just might have a shot at a title.
Racer X: Okay, Adam, you’re totally in this thing come Saturday night, right?
Adam Cianciarulo: Yes sir. It’ll be interesting, for sure. I mean it’s 13 points, but anything can happen. Obviously, it’s my goal to just go out there and win the race. I’d love to get that done.
You won Vegas last year.
Yeah, I did. I won that one. I got a good start while all that craziness was going on behind me.
You raced to a very strong runner-up finish last Saturday at Salt Lake City and looked and sounded very happy afterward. A good effort to your way of seeing things?
Actually, I wasn’t too happy after Salt Lake, to be honest. I think sometimes after the races, even if it doesn’t go so well, when I go up on the podium I try to represent myself and my sponsors the best way I can, and that’s definitely not by letting all your emotions show and being overly sad or mad or any of those emotions. For me, there have been a bunch of races this year where I’ve been close to winning, but I haven’t won. There was a specific instance where I didn’t change my line in the second set of whoops this past weekend in Salt Lake. I kind of figured it out with about five laps to go, and the line ended up being about a half-second faster. When you get done with the race, you immediately think, “Man, what if I had adapted just a little bit sooner and was able to fix that section?” I was actually pretty mad, to be honest with you, but I tried to do a good job of kind of keeping my emotions in check when I was up on that podium.
How do you see playing it come Las Vegas this Saturday? How are you going to approach the main event?
I think I’m going to approach it the same way I approached it last year and keeping an open mind and not counting myself out of anything mentally. My job is to go in and win. Obviously, we’re going to need some help to win the championship, but for me, it’s about just kind of keeping an open mind and understanding that anything can happen. It’s Vegas and nerves are running high and all that stuff. Of course, I can only control what I can control, but I definitely believe in the power of your mind and you attract what you think about, and I definitely believe that anything can happen, and I certainly believe there is a chance that I could walk away Saturday night with the number-one plate, but first and foremost, my goal is just to do my process, do my best to win the race, and let everything else fall into place if it wants to.
You and Joey get along well. I could see him trying to help a brother out, you know what I’m saying?
[Laughs] Yeah, Joey is a friend of mine and we’ve been teammates now for a few years. Yeah, I think with the points gap the way it is, there is never really any team orders between our squad. We just all do the best that we can. But yeah, Joey is a good teammate to have and he’s a good guy to go into battle with.
What will Mitch Payton tell you guys? Get to the front as fast as possible and try and clear out?
Mitch knows that both Joey and I want to win very badly. That will be the goal in Vegas. We won’t be talking about the championship or anything like that. We’ll just be talking about the best way to execute our goal, and our goal is to always win, so when it comes down to what the game plan is going to be in qualifying to the heat race and into the main event. Whether it be bike setup or start position on the gate or just little things we’re doing on the track, it’s just going to be the same goal, and that’s to be the best we can for 15 minutes plus one lap.
I never asked you what you thought about that banzai move Zach Osborne put on Savatgy this time last year. What did you think about that?
It was a difficult situation for me to really even comment on because it happened to my teammate, and of course I wanted to see him succeed. Zach and I have got into it in the past, and I’m not exactly a huge fan of him when he’s on his motorcycle, either. It was tough to watch because I came across the finish line having won the race and being super excited and not even thinking that I was close at the championship, and then I just so happened to look over and I see Joey and Zach get into it. It was unfortunate. I was sad for Joey. Two corners to go for a championship, who knows what I would have done or what Joey would have done if he was in Zach’s position. We’ll never know. From my point of view, of course, I want to see my buddy and my teammate do well, so I definitely didn’t appreciate the move when I saw it.
Since it’s an East/West event, do you think having more highly competitive riders out there can help your cause?
Absolutely. I think when you put both coasts together, it’ll be more riders and it’ll be harder to come through the field if my competitor gets a bad start. I think any time you throw more people in there, it gets a little bit crazier. Also, you have two championships being fought for, too, so you never really know how they’re going to play it. It’ll be interesting, for sure. It’s one of those races where you have to get the start and just put the rearview mirror away and just pin it and do the best that you can and hope that it works out for you.
I’m not wanting to play favorites for this title match on Saturday, but I think most people who may read this interview feel that you have a bit of good luck coming your way.
Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. I know what you mean, for sure. I think the year has gone pretty well for me so far in terms of luck. The vibe has been good all around. I just need to work on executing a little bit better on Saturday and crunch time. But yeah, I think we’re carrying a good vibe into Vegas and we’re going to go in there with a good attitude and an open mind and positive thinking. I think it’ll be a great weekend for myself and the team. I’d love to get a win in Vegas to close it out to really put a stamp on the season.
You genuinely love the sport. I’ve been around you the last couple of years where there have been a lot of ups and downs. There were times where I could tell how down you were. How are you with the sport right now? How do you feel about everything? Still stoked to be racing?
Absolutely. I still love the sport. I’ve loved it since I was three or four years old. I think there was a time there, like you said in talking with me when I was going through some injuries, that I love the sport so much that when I was going through those injuries, I didn’t even really watch races for a year or two. The whole 2015 season, I didn’t even really watch. Something you love so much, you almost want to push away in your mind and tell yourself that it doesn’t mean as much to you as it really does because it hurts not to be out there, and it hurts not to be able to compete and to be a part of it. I think I was a little bit bitter for a year or two there, but I’ve certainly gotten over that. There is nothing like this sport that can bring out the emotions in you. It brings out the sadness, the anger, the love and all that stuff. There is nothing else that I’d rather do. For all the good it brings and all the bad it brings, there is nothing else that I’d rather do. I’ll love the sport probably until the day I die.
Do you know Aaron Plessinger pretty well? Do you have a read on him?
I’ve raced with Aaron for a while—since I was an amateur and a little guy. Aaron is a good guy. He’s a really laid-back guy. I don’t know him too well. I can’t say that I’m good friends with him or anything like that, but he’s certainly a really good rider, and he’s shown that this year. He has definitely earned all his victories and all his success this year. I wish him the best, but I wish myself better this Saturday night!