Race fans (including this one) may have lost sense of the fact that one Justin Barcia was very much in the deep mix of the opening phase of the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. In fact, the veteran Monster Energy Yamaha rider had run 3-3-8-2-5-8 during the first six rounds of the supercross tour and was a fighting second in the fierce swinging title chase before he had his right hand destroyed in a heat race incident in Arlington, Texas.
Nonetheless, Barcia kept putting the work in and found his way back onto the circuit come Minneapolis in April. The Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship also brought success, this all recognized by Yamaha in the form of a new two-year contract. So here we are, a stone’s throw away from Anaheim 1, and Justin Barcia is slowly packing his gear bag and getting into an ass-kicking state of mind. On New Year’s Day, we spoke with No. 51.
Racer X: Justin, my first question: How was Justin Barcia’s first Christmas as a married man?
Justin Barcia: It was awesome. We got to fly back to Florida for a few days and hang out with the family and the dogs and my wife. My mom cooked, which was nice. It was really chill. I can’t complain. It was awesome having some down time.
Anaheim 1 is but a mere four days away. What’s Justin Barcia’s current state of the nation right now as you begin to start your tenth professional season?
Ah man, life’s good. It’s been a good off-season and we are less than a week out for Anaheim 1. I’m just ready to go racing. Like I said, it’s been a good off-season. I went overseas to race at Geneva, which was good. I got married, which was awesome. I got to sign a two-year deal with Yamaha, which was awesome. Two thousand eighteen was very positive and I have a lot of momentum going into 2019.
I was around you and the team at the RedBud Motocross of Nations. I came to see you right after the last moto was run and when I walked into the Yamaha pit area, you were covered head-to-boot toe in mud and there were upwards of 10 people around you. Everyone looked a bit bewildered. I just realized that A1 will mark three months from the ’18 MXoN. What did you make of that whole thing?
Yeah, you know it was difficult. It was like anything where the odds could have been against us, they were against us. No excuses, but it just wasn’t ideal. We had a tough one. We tried our hardest, which we always do as racers, but yeah, it was difficult.
Anaheim 1 is but a few days out. What do you think of that baseball stadium and the races you’ve run there? Good? Bad? Indifferent?
Anaheim has been good to me. I have no complaints about Anaheim. I like going there. I think there is a lot of excitement around it and there are a lot of people there. For me, I had a great off-season and I’m happy where I’m at and I’m comfortable on the bike and I’m really comfortable with the team. We’re all working together really well. Things are going great. For me, Anaheim 1 is exciting. I’ve been waiting for this for a while now and I’m just kind of ready to get there and go racing. Obviously, that’s what we’ve all been working at, so yeah, we can say we’re great or whatever, but all in all it just comes down to Saturday night when we go racing. That’s all that matters.
You and your new rookie teammate Aaron Plessinger certainly seem to get along well. Have you guys been able to use that off-season collectivization to the optimize you, Aaron, and those YZ450Fs?
One hundred percent. Yeah, AP is a good kid. Unfortunately now, I’m the veteran! That’s kind of weird. I’m getting old. AP is like my little brother on the team, in a way. It’s funny. It’s cool. We get along really well. We have similar personalities, but we’re different at the same time, so it works well. We bounce off each other with motivation. We bond with the team well. Having a teammate that you can bond with a little more is cool, but at the end of the day we’re going racing and we both want to win, so it’s going to be fun. It’s definitely cool someone can joke around with in the semi.
Well, you’ve sort of been the good man in the storm inside that Yamaha team the past year. There’s a lot to be said for that, isn’t there?
Yeah, a little bit. It’s pretty cool. I came in as a fill-in guy and did some good stuff. I was solid through the beginning of supercross and had a little injury and came back and had a couple good races and was then solid through outdoors. I don’t want to just be the solid guy. I have goals to win championships. That’s my goal and that’s what I want to do maybe before I retire. It is good being a solid racer and at the end of the day, that’s what wins championships. But for me, I didn’t win any supercross races. Still, it was a very positive and motivating year to get back on me feet, because where I was before, that was a joke. It was not good. Going into ’19, I definitely want to win a lot of races, but most of all, to be a solid guy and it’s good to have a team like factory Yamaha behind me.
Okay, so you go the starting gate at around 9 p.m. PST on Saturday night. You’ve got Anderson, Tomac, Roczen, Musquin, and all the other usual suspects lined up alongside you. What do you think, man?
Yeah, I mean you’ve got all the players in it. You have the past champion Anderson in there, you’ve got Musquin and you have Roczen. Before the season I never say, “Oh, it’s going to be this guy…” I think as the season moves on, it kind of sorts itself out a little bit and the guys kind of find their place, so for me we’ll see. We’ll see around the halfway mark who the title contenders will be. I’ve worked my way back to the top. I was at the bottom for a bit, so I’m more grateful for the opportunity. I appreciate it more now. It’s pretty cool.