Everyone has to race the same track and that includes the privateers who work hard to make the main events just to be greeted with gnarly conditions like Indianapolis provided last weekend. With an ever changing racetrack and eventually leaders trying to work their way through riders outside of the top 10, the challenge of staying on top of everything is even that much more. We were able to catch up with privateers Fredrik Noren, Grant Harlan, and Josh Cartwright after Indianapolis to ask them about dealing with those tricky ruts and how each of them are feeling at this halfway point of the season.
Fredrik Noren | 15th in 450SX
Racer X: Alright, Fredrik Noren. Well hey, first off, thank you for making the main event. My fantasy team thanks you.
Fredrik Noren: That's so funny. We were just talking about that. I was a good pick for that. I scored maximum points supposedly. So, you're welcome. I'm pumped I could give you some points, but I'm also happy I could get some points myself. It's been a little bit of a roller coaster ride for me these last few races. So, it's nice to be in the main and have a solid 15th. I'm pretty pumped on that.
Tell me about that track, man. Looked gnarly out there.
Yeah, it was, it was definitely pretty gnarly. Fortunately, there were quite a few different options you could do. You didn't have to go in the same route all the time. Like you had a few different lines, some rhythms as well. And I would say the track crew did a phenomenal job going out in between the sessions and fixing some of the big jumps and keeping it from being like dangerous if you want to call it that way. I mean, it was really technical. I really enjoy it. It does bring the speed down a little bit. So, in a sense it's almost, I feel like safer. It's still gnarly. But yeah, I had a blast. I thought it was good.
Like you said, with the multiple lines. How much did you find yourself changing lines or you come into one and say, “That's not good anymore.”
Yeah, it happened quite a bit and it happened quite a bit without me wanting to do that too [laughs]. There were quite a few times where I was like, “Oh! Alright, shoot, I ended up over here. Hopefully I didn’t cut anyone off.” But no, it was it was good. Like I said, I had a blast. I thought the track was good, a fun technical track in general and it was a good time.
Like you said, back in the main event. How crucial was that for you this week to just finally put it back in the main?
Yeah, definitely. It's been kind of a rough go like I said, and I haven't been riding a lot at home either. So just being back on the bike, getting some solo laps in with these guys and just getting some race pace, but yeah, mentally for me as well. The team's awesome. All the sponsors are awesome not putting any pressure necessarily on me but me as a racer, I put a lot of pressure on myself. So, it was nice to be in there again. I know that's where I belong, and it should be. So, like I said, it's just good to be in there. The Maddparts.com/Big Buildings Direct Kawasaki was working really good out there as well. So, I'm pretty pumped on that.
Grant Harlan | 18th in 450SX
Just kind of take me to the main event. I mean, ever changing track, it's got to be difficult to manage.
Grant Harlan: My start wasn’t that good. Both my heat race start, and my main event start weren’t that good. I made a couple of good moves around the first couple of corners and honestly, after practice, I was like, “Eh.” I felt better than I did in Oakland for sure, but I was still a little bit worried about how I was going to feel in the races. That main event there, I felt really good there for a while. I was making some moves. I was catching Shane [McElrath] for 13th and made a bonehead little tip over and just all the wind was out of the sails and then struggled to ride it home in 18th. I'm a little bummed about that, would have been good points. It maybe would have put me 20th overall. So, next week!
What happened in that crash? It looked like you got into the Tuff Blocks or something?
I went outside because a couple of leaders were coming. It was one of the places where the track funnels into one line. So, there's not really many places to go. I went outside, kind of went to roll in and my front wheel caught the edge of the rut. It was really hard packed, you know, compared to most of the track and it just pulled me to the right and into the bale. I didn't think I crashed that hard, but both of my arms are bruised up pretty bad. So, it must have hit pretty decent.
Did you have any bike setup changes throughout the day to deal with these conditions?
I tried to stiffen it up in practice and I don't think I was riding hard enough for it to be a positive change. So, before the heat race, I just raised the sag a little bit just to kind of keep the rear end up and help me turn, but nothing besides that.
I feel like you’re a consistent main event guy now so what kind of goals have you been putting on yourself each week?
I mean, like I said, stay on two wheels and top 20 in points. I don't know what the payday is for that, but it's definitely better than 21st. I think at the end of the day just try and get points. I know Justin Cooper's not racing and I was kind of doing the math and I think I need like six points a weekend to catch him comfortably. So, I think six points a weekend would be great and trying to finish ahead of the couple guys in front of me. Get top 20 points.
Josh Cartwright | 19th in 450SX
Alright, Josh Cartwright. I mean that track was brutal. Just kind of take me through what it's like living it.
Josh Cartwright: Man, Indy’s always a sketchy one with all the ruts and everything. But this weekend was a gnarly one. It was probably the worst I've ever seen. It was just really soft, but we all got to ride it. It's really challenging. So, it was really good. I got ninth in the heat race and was really happy with that. I didn't have to go through the LCQ. The main felt good, riding with [Justin] Starling, [Kevin] Moranz, and them and then once we started getting lapped, kind of going back and forth, back and forth. Finally finished up 19th. We kind of just finished it out. That thing was once you got to halfway, you just needed to survive.
From beginning to end, how much did the track change? Was it quite a bit?
Oh, man. Like they prepped it pretty good. Like they almost prepped all the faces and everything. And then by the end, I just went and took pictures because I had to go take pictures and just show the people. The whoops were just ruts this deep [motions towards his knees]. The faces all the way across. It was sketchy doing the triples, but it was fun. You got to keep those toes in.
Bike setup-wise, were you playing with stuff today trying to figure stuff out or were you pretty happy with where you were at?
No, my Psychic Motorsports bike was working awesome. My Core MX suspension was working awesome. I honestly didn't have to touch any clickers. My bike was feeling great. I rode press on Friday, so I was able to kind of figure out some stuff but didn't even have to touch it there. So, I was happy with it.