With the Monsters Energy AMA Supercross Championship winding to an end, many riders are out due to injury. This leaves opportunity for others like Grant Harlan to get a career best result, ninth overall in the 450 class, even while racing through a shoulder injury. When it comes to racing though not everyone can win or have a career best night. Fredrik Noren struggled throughout the day and Derek Kelley was one lap away from matching his career best in 250SX. We caught up with the trio afterwards and they walked us through their rides.
Grant Harlan | 9th IN 450SX
Racer X: Dislocated shoulder. I didn’t even think you were going to race. In our Injury Report I listed you as out.
Grant Harlan: I was out.
I’m shocked that you’re here.
Monday, I asked for all my money back for this weekend and next weekend because I wasn’t going to race. My shoulder was in pain. You dislocate your shoulder and it’s like four weeks, then maybe you feel good enough to maybe ride. So yeah, I wasn’t racing. Then I had physical therapy on Wednesday and I’m like, "You know what? I’m going to try. If I can’t ride, I can’t ride." That’s all I can do. I got through practice and felt pretty good.
That’s amazing. I can’t believe you raced.
I was honestly pretty nervous. I was watching press and the privateer race yesterday, and the track was so gnarly. The transitions were steep, and the landings were hard. I was like, "This is going to be maybe the hardest race of the year to race with a dislocated shoulder." But it ended up being pretty good.
You looked good out there, you definitely didn’t look like you were riding hurt.
The whoops were really slick, and I feel like I got through them really good, except for one lap maybe. I felt pretty comfortable all day.
Was trying to salvage a top-twenty in points part of your decision making process in racing today?
Oh, it’s the biggest decision. That was the goal in coming back, to get that top twenty and get that bonus, whatever it is, and be happy with that.
Does your shoulder affect your presence at the nationals, you think?
We’ll see after next week. With three more weeks of rehab, it should be better. I’ll probably race, it just depends on how everything goes. As of right now I probably will race.
Who else is even on a Yamaha out there after tonight?
I’m just going to say it’s you. You’re carrying the blue flag now.
Carrying the flag, yep.
Fredrik Noren |14th IN 450SX
Racer X: You’ve got a Band-Aid on your chin. What happened?
Fredrik Noren: Qualifying today, I was going through a section and got a little squirrely and went two-and-three-quarters on a jump and head-banged my handlebars. I just jumped straight into the face of the third one. I didn’t go down or anything so that was good. It shook me up a little bit. In general, it’s been a rough week of riding for me. I started with the PulpMX Privateer LCQ Challenge, the Pulp Race, and fell when I was leading. In the heat race I got together with another rider and fell, and in the main event I fell in the second corner. Got up 13th and lost a spot on the last lap and ended up 14th. Considering everything that’s happened, this weekend, I’m pretty happy with that. I should be able to do a lot more though.
Take us through your LCQ. Did you realize Chase Marquier was that close behind you?
I kept an eye on him, but he put in a heater on that last lap and closed up quite a bit. That had me concerned, but I really didn’t want to do anything dumb. I was like "Patience, patience, patience. This track can bite me." I didn’t want to tangle with anyone, and with the way the week had been going so far, I had that on my mind. It’s not a good thing to ride like that, but I also felt like I had it under control with Chase knowing that he was right there behind me. But he was definitely a little too close for comfort.
It looked like were showing Devin Simonson [in third] a wheel here and there.
Yeah, kind of, a little bit. If he had a little bobble where I could sneak by, I would have, but I didn’t want to put it in there, necessarily. I just didn’t know what those guys were going to do, like if he was going to turn down early or something. I just didn’t want to risk it. Overall, I’m happy with how it went.
How was the track?
It was pretty wild.
Did you race here last year?
Was it a little better this year?
Yeah, for sure. Last year it was a day race, and it was already like how it is now, in the heat races. It was pretty slick. I’d say in general, considering it is very windy, dry, and hot here, they did a good job trying to keep the track in good shape. They built the whoops, they weren’t super big. I feel like the track crew did a good job in making sure we had a pretty safe track to ride, even though it got pretty slick.
Derek Kelley | 7th IN 250SX West
Racer X: Good day for you?
Derek Kelley: I had a rough one in New Jersey, I was battling through a fractured thumb.
I didn’t know that!
I tried to keep it low key, no excuses around here.
You’re making me look bad, I didn’t have you on the Injury Report.
I didn’t really feel like… I felt like I was able to ride the bike so I should have been able to perform. I was battling through that, and I was happy to bounce back strong. We worked on my starts a lot the last couple weeks and tried a rear holeshot device, which I feel made a good difference off the line. Then I just worked on my technique, and it paid off with my starts. I think I got a top four start in my heat, and then in the main event I had another top five start. I’m pretty happy with the night.
What’s it like battling this late in the season? Are you racing any differently? Do you have the outdoors on your mind or are you trying to pick up better spots in a thinner field?
I mean, it kind of sucks. I wish everyone was out there, it waters down the results. I felt like this was the best riding I’ve had all year, and obviously there are three or four guys out right now. It’s a bummer. I’m not real worried about championship points, I’m not going to win the championship. I’m just trying to take every opportunity I can to put in a good ride.
Seventh place on the night, we were talking up in the box about how much improvement you’ve shown.
Thank you. Yeah, I’ve been grinding. I put in the work. I don’t know what about other programs people have, but I feel like you’re never too old to learn a new trick. I’m always looking at my riding and where I can improve. I just want to do better. There’s no point in going out and putting in the same result every weekend or getting worse. I’m just trying to do my best every day. I’m a little bummed I got passed on the last lap for seventh. I was running sixth and the top four were right there. Just a couple little things and we’re knocking on the door.