It was a great battle for the win in the 450SX class at the 2023 Indianapolis Supercross, but only one rider can take the checkered flag first. Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GasGas rider Justin Barcia was one of the fastest riders on the track in the main event but just couldn’t quite find his way around Ken Roczen at the end for his first victory of the season. Still though, Barcia was overjoyed with the result as a welcomed return to the podium and he was all smiles after the race.
He spoke with the media in the post-race press conference about it.
Justin, what are your emotions after a race like that when you’re catching Kenny and getting closer and closer and then the race ends. Impressive finish, but are you disappointed?
Justin Barcia: Yeah I wanted to win for sure, that’s the goal. Today was a good day, had a lot of fun. The bike was good, I was gelling with it. I liked the track, it was gnarly. Emotions after the race, this is why we do all this training and all this fitness because the tank is empty. I gave it everything I had. Kenny rode a great race; everyone rode a great race. It was intense. But I’m happy for sure. I haven’t been on the podium in a while but last weekend we were close. I knew with how I felt coming from last weekend that I’d be good. We had a good weekend at home. It was just being smart, keeping it on two wheels. I feel like my speed was good today. The bike was awesome. Would definitely have liked to take the win, but you can’t win ‘em all, and we’ll try again next weekend.
Did you have a certain spot on the track you had picked out to maybe make the move on Kenny as you tightened up?
Yeah definitely. I felt like I was pretty good on the 3-3-1 and then into the whoops, so I felt like if I could do that (3-3-1) out of the corner and into the whoops quick, I would be able to get there. Then obviously, the section as it carried around, I would have been able to do it there. But I never was able to get quite close enough in that spot. Kenny was good on one side of the track, and I felt like I was a little better, but it was so close that I just wasn’t able to make it happen. I definitely like the whoops. I think those were a benefit for me tonight. I stayed out of that gnarly groove and went to that right side and pretty much skimmed them the whole race. That’s been good for me. Last weekend that was good for me and it worked this weekend as well. I’m definitely happy with the charge through the pack. I’m bummed on the start a little bit. I’ve been having some pretty good starts but I just got kind of pinched or didn’t get the greatest jump. It was a good race though and Kenny rode awesome, so props to him.
You and Kenny had a moment there after the race. It seemed like some real respect between competitors and it seemed pretty special.
Yeah, I like racing Kenny. It’s always good heads-up racing. We’ve had our moments obviously, but I’ve had moments with everybody so no big deal there. I was stoked for him. I know how hard it is to get to that position. I’ve been there. He’s a great rider and strong competitor and I was stoked for him. It was a great race and obviously I wanted it, but yeah give him a pat on the back and hopefully it will be vice versa in a couple of weeks.
Your speed has been good this year. What can you attribute that to? You’ve seemed to be on another level in qualifying and of course in the mains too.
Yeah qualifying was nice today. It was the best qualifying for me this season. Top five which was cool. I just think it was a little fork change. It’s such a little thing that gave me a lot of comfort. The balance of the bike is really good. It was just really comfortable for me. Daytona was awesome. I had such a good feeling on the bike and I went home, MTF built a new supercross track and I rode there Tuesday and had another really good feel. I came here with a good feeling and the bike has been… every track and every race has been really comfortable for me. I would just say comfort with the bike, and I put in a strong offseason. It’s a shame that it hasn’t really shown but the speed has definitely been there and now it’s starting to show and better late than never.
You’re known for riding loose. Those last couple laps on the TV it’s entertaining to watch. A lot of little moments. From your perspective, how hard were you willing to send it? Were you saying, “I’m basically going to send this thing into the ground if I have to?” From our standpoint it looks loose. How controlled was it from behind the handlebars?
I was never scared so it wasn’t that bad—I felt in control the whole race. I never had any close moments to be honest. I always look on edge but I’m kind of loose. This morning when I walked the track I said, “Tonight I’ll just let the bike do its thing and go with it.” That’s kind of what I did. There were scary spots for sure. The whoops for me, I like that. I was loose through them and let the bike do its thing. The really gnarly G-out kickers were not fun, so you’ve kind of got to pop the clutch and make sure you get that wheel a little bit high because there were some endo spots. But other than that, I felt in control.
Before the finish line in that last rhythm, you kept going inside there, you’d get a little off balance. The line you were taking into the corner, that’s where you were ending up. That was a spot where you’d get the momentum and gain on Kenny but lose it there. Were you trying every lap just to figure out that section?
Yeah that was a frustration section for me. It was probably the easiest section on the track but I made it the hardest. What I did was charge into the corner too hard and rush it and then there were so many ruts that I couldn’t pull the triple every lap. Kenny was way better than me there so that’s where I lost a little. I wish I could have been better there, but I’ll just keep working on those things.
Maybe an underrated statistic for you is you’re actually now tied with Andrew Short for 13th all-time in starts. How does it feel actually being an ironman in the sport now and does it really feel like that? It seems like you’ve still got a lot in the tank.
It doesn’t feel like that. I would have never even known that so that’s kind of cool. Definitely feel very strong. This is the best I’ve felt on my motorcycle. I feel good. My training is good. My fitness is good. I’m healthy. I’ve got a family. Great team. So I’m definitely looking to race a couple more years. That’s my plan. I’m trying to figure some things out right now. My plan is to finish this year strong and see what next year brings. I definitely want to keep moving up on that list of getting a lot more starts and staying healthy. I’m having fun and really enjoying it. I like riding my dirt bike right now so when your job is to ride dirt bikes and you can have fun at it, life is good.
You were one of the only guys blitzing the whoops the whole race. Can you just take me through your thoughts on that?
As my old suspension tech would say: skim until you die. I always go with that motto. I don’t know, I felt good. Like I said, last weekend a lot of the guys last weekend were going inside and jumping them and I just kept skimming them all night. My bike is really comfortable right now and I’m happy with it. It skims the whoops good and I’m pretty good at the whoops, I guess. It was tough tonight. It was tough to go so low because I had to go so low [in the berm] to go to the right and skim them but I felt like for me, it was way better than going down that V line just because it would catch you off a little bit and I felt like that was the best spot on the track for me. So it was cool and I’m glad I’m good in the whoops because in the past I’ve struggled. No I get to be back in this position and go to race and walk the track and go, “Oh cool the whoops! I’m going to nail those suckers.”