It’s hard to believe it’s almost been a whole year since Adam Cianciarulo last stood on a podium in supercross following his second place finish last year in San Diego. Houston 3 saw the 450SX class sophomore put his Monster Energy Kawasaki on the third step of the box for the first time this season, catapulting him four places in the championship up to P5. After a frustrating Houston 2 Supercross, Cianciarulo was pleased with his performance on Saturday and spoke with the media following the race via Zoom.
Racer X: Adam, that was a very smart race. You’re nine points down after three races. I know you’ve had some ups and downs in the season so far coming into it with the nerve issue. How is your arm feeling? How do you assess tonight with being a smart race with considering your position?
Adam Cianciarulo: Arm is better, I think. It’s weird, just depending on the track sometimes it’s worse than others and it affects me more. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect me still a little bit. Obviously tonight it was good enough for a podium. To be honest, coming into this season, as Cooper [Webb] alluded to him not having a great off-season, I was stressing it hard coming in. The field—everybody knows how stacked the field is and how high the level is. For me, I did not get a chance to really ride and kind of build and work on some of the things I wanted to work on. I think I did two 20’s going through the whoops before the season started. I definitely have felt a huge improvement just from race one to now. So, very excited with kind of the direction we’re trending in. Like you said, it was a pretty stress-free night for me. Got some good starts and rode well. I don't think I did anything too great out there. Obviously, Ken [Roczen] and Cooper were able to put some time into me there at the end. I just was riding smart and happy to bring it home.
You said earlier today that you try and stay in the present. I’m just trying to see, an elite athlete as you are, how do you stay present when you’re not necessarily 100 percent? When you have a lingering nerve injury and focus on that and try and stay as focused as you said you are on the present and on the race at hand?
There’s a lot of racers that are dealing with something. As racers, we’re always kind of nursing stuff here or there. But for me, my philosophy is just no matter what the variable is, if I suck on a specific layout of track or I’m not gelling with the bike that day or my hand hurts and I can’t hold onto the grip, I just try to do my best every time no matter what that is, even if that’s not as good as the best guy. So, I find in my career in times where I’ve gotten discouraged and dwelled on things and ultimately not did my best, that’s when I go home and I’m like, “Damn, that was a crappy day.” But when I leave it all out there no matter what, I can rest easy at night. So, I’ve tried to learn those lessons early in my career and now later in my career just give it everything I have, regardless of any circumstance.
Missing a chunk of the off-season, how has the bike been? Are you going to work on anything this week bike-wise?
We got a decent amount of testing in. Nothing too extensive. We did make a pretty big change; I think for the second qualifying session at Houston 2. Ever since then I feel like I’ve been riding a little bit more back to normal. So, I’m feeling really good about where the bike is at. Like I said, I have Oscar [Wirdeman], my crew chief, and my mechanic, Justin [Shantie]. The whole team is very knowledgeable on that stuff. So, it’s super cool for me to be able to lean on them. No big complaints for me. We’ll always be tinkering. The bike is always evolving throughout the year. As of right now, no 911 calls happening.
You’ve been part of opening ceremonies throughout all these races and everything, and we’ve heard everybody talk about on the podium how nice it is to have fans back again. What is that element like for you guys, especially after seven races in Salt Lake City at a completely empty stadium? Does that really amp you guys up the way that you say?
Yeah, it does. Supercross to me without fans doesn’t really feel like supercross. It feels like so long ago now that we raced… The last time I raced in front of a full stadium I think was Tampa last year, sometime in February. It’s been weird without the fans. I won my first outdoor race at RedBud and there was like 50 people there. It’s been cool to see. Tonight, they were actually pretty loud. We had a pretty good turnout. I think they were allowing 10,000 people in. It seemed like it was probably at that number, and they seemed pretty stoked. You know me. I’m a big opening ceremonies guy. I love it.
You’re very analytical about this. Three different races in Houston, three-way different track conditions with it being pretty soft, and then a little bit firmer, and then soft again today. Even the weather was different too because it was pretty hot and humid in the stadium tonight. Was this a big test for you guys in different conditions, especially as we go to Indy where it should be cold?
Yeah. I think the conditions were honestly more or less the same. The dirt had the same feel for all three. I honestly think tonight was probably the most firm it’s been. Some of the 90 degree turns, the moisture was definitely coming up in the main event. I was being cautious there when I was leaned over. But it’s been a pretty good test. I think it’s been really chaotic because of the short lap times and tonight we had the short, right-handed start. So really just a chaotic start to the season. Like you said, kind of guys all over the place. I went 4, 12, 3 and I think I’m nine points back, so pretty dang good considering. I’m just excited to get out of Houston and go ride some different dirt, to be honest with you.