“The Monster Energy Cup did me dirty,” said Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Aaron Plessinger the Monday after the 2019 Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he rode to 22-17-8 moto scores to place 15h overall.
“I kind of rode around a little and got back into it. Overall, though, I was happy with the bike and happy with the way I was riding. I just need to stay off the ground next time. I’m ready to get back to work for Anaheim 1.”
Straight out of Hamilton, Ohio, Plessinger is up to his eyes in putting in the work. Determined to bounce back from an injury sabotaged 2019 season—a broken heel suffered at the Daytona Supercross in March put the Buckeye up on blocks for months—Plessinger has been haunting the tracks of Southern California in recent weeks, keen to get back into fighting trim. Currently residing in the outskirts of Corona, California, Plessinger has been driving up and down the 15 freeway, dropping in at the Yamaha test track and putting in one lap after another. Up to speed and in shape, the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross 250SX West Region Champion wants nothing more than to win races and championships in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship.
Catching his breath and doing some laundry on Sunday morning, we caught up with one of the biggest personalities as well as brightest talents in all of the sport.
Racer X: Alright Aaron, what are you up to this Sunday morning?
Aaron Plessinger Not much. Just catching up on some laundry and recovering from quite a long week.
What did you have going on this past week?
I rode four days and tested a lot. We figured out quite a bit with the suspension and had a good ending to a really good week.
You’re out here in California?
Yeah, I’m staying in Corona, right by the test track.
Will you go back to Ohio for the holidays?
Actually, I’ll be staying out here just to get more riding time in. it has been going good so I decided to just stay out here and keep up with the program and make sure I don’t slack off a bit.
Right on. You feel good about everything?
Yeah, I’m feeling awesome. This week was a pretty big week with testing and the team and everything and I found a setting that I really like and really suites me on the bike and everything is going good right now.
I’d imagine you guys are going through absolutely everything on the bike: suspension, motor, and frame—you name it?
Yeah, for sure. That’s what we’ve been focused on the past few weeks. We’ve just been focusing on the bike and getting my set-up all dialed-in. We’ve just been doing laps to be ready for December. We want to put the real work in before A1.
Taking a look back on 2019, what do you think? Definitely a mixed bag of ups and downs.
Yeah, definitely. It had some ups and major downs. No, it is one I’d like to put behind me and kind of move forward and focus on 2020. I think it is going to be a really good year for me and Justin [Barcia] next year, you know? I feel good on the bike and my lap times show it. Justin is feeling good on the bike and we’re putting the work in. I think it’s going to be a really, really good year for us.
From the beginning of the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, you were, in essence, a top-ten racer. By the time you guys left Atlanta in early March, you were a top-five rider. It appeared that you were hitting critical mass when you went to Daytona.
Yeah, that’s why it was such a bummer to me that I got injured. I had that fifth in Atlanta and I think I was in around seventh place in points when I did my heel. It was a real bummer for me because I was just hitting my stride and getting better and putting the results in, but it happens and I just have to rebound better that I have before.
That broken heel you suffered at Daytona was a huge setback for you, wasn’t it?
Yes, definitely. It was a long time. Too long for me. It was about four months until I got back on the bike. The heel itself and the bones were all good, but the incision is actually what kept me from doing anything for so long. I was out here and I got surgery on it out here. I was out here for about a month after surgery and then I went back to Florida and saw a skin specialist and he said if that I would have waited one more week to see him, they would have potentially had to remove all the hardware from my foot and redo the surgery because the incision wasn’t healing correctly. So after I found that out, I went to work on all that and saw him every week, pretty much, and he brought it back to where it is now. He got me all healed up. It was a long process. It definitely sucked, for sure, and it was one of the worst injuries I’ve had. I don’t wish anything like that on my worst enemy.
You returned to the fray at Southwick in late June. You hovered in and out of the top 20 before posting up an eighth at the penultimate race of the series at Budds Creek. One of those deals where you had to race yourself back into shape?
For sure. It was a mix of a lot of things. It was just coming back and not getting too much testing in and we definitely tried. I wasn’t really feeling good on the bike; it was kind of a set-up thing and a fitness thing. I was definitely struggling, for sure. I was trying to get the bike right and trying to come back and I wasn’t really in the greatest shape. Southwick was definitely an eye opener, for sure. It showed me that coming back wasn’t going to be easy. It was definitely a rough time, but we kept testing and putting the work in and we never gave up. An eighth place at the end of the season wasn’t the best finish, but I was happy because it was a breaking through point to get a top ten and we just kept pushing.
The Monster Cup. What did you make of your evening of getting back out there and on the starting gate? You mentioned to the media that the race did you dirty, but I was there that night, and you seemed to keep building momentum.
Yeah, I was feeling great going out for the first main and then I was struggling a little bit with my bike and then I had a crash in the first race. I landed just outside the main line in the sand and it flung me down pretty hard. Before that, I was feeling pretty good. I was just kind of figuring out the track a little bit because it was the first time in a long time that I had been on a real supercross track race-wise. It was tough. It was tough getting back into the flow of things. It was definitely tough, but I was happy with my riding and by the end of the night I got up to eighth in the last main. It was tough, but everything showed me what I needed to work on. It was definitely a good event for me.
A whole lot of riding and training and testing during the month of December?
Yeah, hopefully more riding than testing. I think these next few weeks are going to be really good, especially with me figuring out everything that I needed to do with my bike to get it all dialed-in. Yeah, I think this next month is going to be good to really put the work in and work really hard for hopefully a podium or a win at AI.
Okay, my man. A mere month away, how are you sizing up 2020?
Uhm, I’m definitely going to go in with an open mind. I’m going to shoot high. I think with the way I’m feeling right now and with how close Justin and I are at the test track and seeing that he just won the Paris Supercross, I mean I think the possibilities are endless. I’m just going to do what I can do training-wise and go in knowing that I didn’t leave anything on the table. That’s my game plan and hopefully it works out for me. I’m definitely ready to get back, you know? It’s been a while since I’ve felt this good on the bike and I feel great fitness-wise. I’m ready to be back and hopefully I can repeat 2018, but those are some big goals. First things first, I have to get through a whole season and I’m going to do that as fast and consistent as I can and we’ll see how it all plays out.