Casey Cochran is in a unique situation. The Florida native is set with a pro contract with the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team, but in some ways, it's all coming one year early. Cochran was a B rider throughout 2023, and he still has to get his pro supercross license before he can race Monster Energy AMA Supercross in 2024. Cochran raced—and won the championship main event—in the 2023 Supercross Futures program, but the rulebook said that B riders do not earn points towards a pro SX license. The #66 went on to race his Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch qualifiers and the event, stopping for a strong 1-1 day at the MX Sports Scouting Moto Combine at the RedBud National in July, before heading to the Ranch. At that point, Husqvarna started to consider that perhaps Cochran needed to turn pro sooner rather than later.
At Loretta's, Cochran was very fast early, then gritted through a dislocated shoulder mid-week to claim the Schoolboy 2 (12-17) B/C title. Despite the injury, Cochran powered through and raced a handful of A motos at various races the following weeks in order to get his pro motocross license as he debuted at the Budds Creek Naitonal in mid-August. He raced the 250 Class in the final two events of the year, finishing 22nd and 37th overall at the Budds Creek and Ironman Nationals. The shoulder injury from Loretta's was still bothering him, though. In September, Cochran and the team decided he should undergo surgery on his shoulder in order to get fully healthy.
With only a few more days until he is cleared to ride, Cochran attended the 2024 Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team last night in California. After the event, our Kellen Brauer caught up with Cochran to get his insight on his plan for getting his pro SX license, his 2024 season expectations, and more.
Racer X: All right, Casey Cochran, you have a little bit of pro experience behind you, but this has got to feel like pro debut with all the emotions that go with it to a degree. So just talk me through what it finally feels like to be like, “I'm not an amateur anymore. I'm a pro.”
Casey Cochran: Yeah. So, I mean, we've made it, this is, this is it. You work so hard to get here and, yeah, we're here and it's a surreal feeling. I'm super excited to start the rookie season and dabble and, yeah, I'm ready to go.
What's it been like in the last two or three months? I know you haven't been able to ride much. But what have you been doing to kind of get ready? What kind of training have you been doing?
Yes, I've been doing a lot of off the bike stuff, road biking gym work because I had shoulder surgery not long ago. I got cleared to ride yesterday. So, first day back will be on Friday and we're gonna go from there, basically. It's just been a lot of off the bike, a lot of road biking. I've been doing the Tour de France all over Claremont every day. [Laughs] It's been good. A lot of training off the bike. So, yeah, I'm ready to get back on the bike and, and mix it up with the guys.
So, I believe the plan for you is east. Right? So, it gives you a little bit more time. But do you have almost like an accelerated program that you have in place then on the bike? And these are the steps we're gonna take over the next few weeks.
So, it's an interesting situation with me. I've been explaining it to everyone because no one really knows. I did [Supercross] Futures last year as a B rider and the way it worked was they don't give out pro points to B riders. So, I don't have my supercross pro points technically. Yeah. So, no one knows that. And everyone's like, “You're pro,” but like I'm pro -ish, I guess! That's why it's like an East Coast-ish season because I have to do two Supercross Future races to get my pro points at minimum. So, the first one is A2 and then second is Daytona. So, I have to do futures at Daytona and if everything goes to plan, then I'll go East Coast [pro] after that. So, I kind of have more time, which I guess it kind of works out with the shoulder injury and just give me more time to ride. But everyone's like, “Yeah, we'll see you at Detroit,” and I'm like, “Uh, no, you won't.” [laughs]
Are you bummed a little bit that you missed Mini O’s by like two weeks, and you could have got your points there, right?
Yeah, that was the original plan was to do Mini O’s and then, A2 or not even, because you can get them all [SX points] at Mini O’s. So that was the original plan, then I'd be able to do the whole season, but shoulder injury kinda threw a wrench in that. So, we had to go to plan B and now this is what we're working with.
So only being able to potentially do kind of a shortened East Coast season. Do you have expectations you're putting on yourself?
Every rookie season is kind of like a learn, stay healthy, just take in a lot of information and work from it. But I mean, I'm always lining up on the gate to get the best result I can and I obviously wanna win. So, I'm always gonna go out there and give it my best and whatever that is. That's what I'm gonna go for.
What are some of the things you took from doing the couple nationals that you did at the end? You actually got to see the process of it, seeing some of the guys you will be racing. What are the things you learn there?
Yeah, those were definitely an eye opener for me going from amateur races because I mean, when you're in an amateur race, I never raced A class on the amateur level, but B class races, if you get like a good start, you could put down a few fast laps early and kind of just like ride the race how you want to and not have to push really hard. But dude, when you get out there with those pro guys, it's gnarly. The intensity level is just crazy. Like, I remember first moto at Bud's Creek. I was in like 17th or something and I have, [Carson] Mumford in front of me and then Levi's [Kitchen] behind me. I'm like, I'm in 17th and I'm battling the guy who just won a moto at Unadilla and he's all over me! And I'm like, what is going on? Like, it's hard to be able to, like, look at these guys jerseys and be like, “Okay, I need to pass this guy,” when you've been watching him on TV for so long. So, it was a mental [thing], you have to get over that and just think that everyone is out here racing and just pass whoever's in front of you. You can't look at the name and their resumes. So, it was a learning experience for that. Just progressing and learning what it takes and that intensity level. I felt a lot better at Ironman in that second moto. I was running like 15th 14th or something, which is still mediocre, I guess. But before crashing out of it, which was kind of dumb, but I don't wanna make any excuses for myself, but I was dealing with that shoulder [injury] from Loretta's and it wasn't good. I'm not gonna say it was a mistake to run those last two because I learned a lot, but I just didn't get the best results and it wasn't really happy with them. But you know, it is what it is and now I'm feeling a lot better and healthier and ready to mix it up with them again.
Well, for you, you got to race Supercross Futures already. So, you have like a bit of a base knowledge with that and have been in stadiums. So, the nerves maybe would be a little bit less whereas like someone like Guillem [Farres], your teammate, is kind of going in straight. Talk about the fact that you do have that experience behind you, and you know what the atmosphere is like in a stadium.
I had those five Futures races last year. Racing under the lights in front of the fans is definitely a different experience. I remember walking out of the tunnel at Anaheim last year just looking around and you're like, “Wow, this is, is it.” Like, “We've made it.” I used to be up in those stands watching and now you're down on the floor racing. So, it definitely calms the nerves a little bit, takes a little pressure off, definitely having a little more experience in that area and I guess I'll get even a little more before pro racing.
Lastly, the amateur scene is quite a bit different because you guys have like your five majors that you do and now there's some combines and futures that add into it a little bit. But once you're pro, it's like a real marathon of a season. So many races back-to-back. Have you kind of thought about the processes that you're gonna go through this year to make sure that you're not getting too ahead of yourself and getting worn down with stuff?
Right. It's definitely a different approach, we have these amateur races [and] will train super hard for like, a couple of months before and then you race and you take a month off and then you train hard and then you race, take a month off. But, yeah, the pros are completely different. It's a long season and there's never really any breaks. So, yeah, it's gonna be an adjustment but I'm ready for what it brings.