After a handful of injuries, bad luck, and struggles, Jordon Smith returned to the center of the podium at the San Francisco Supercross over the weekend. Smith’s last supercross win came at the 2018 Daytona Supercross—five years prior to his win in the muddy main event in California. With his win and his long-time teammate and now competitor RJ Hampshire finishing ninth, Smith now has possession of the 250SX West Region points lead. After wiping the mud off of his face and changing out of his soaked gear, Smith (and second-place Levi Kitchen and third-place Garrett Marchbanks) joined the media in the post-race press conference. Here is the #31’s take on his win.
Let's talk to Jordon Smith. It looked like this is the first win for you in a long career, since 2018 when you won Daytona. What does this mean to you to get back up on the top step of the podium? And then how hard was it to stay up front and win this mud race?
Jordon Smith: Yeah, it means a lot. It’s been a long time coming. After my win in 2018, I felt like I was on the right path to win a championship and just kind of keep going up upward in my career. And things change in 2019 and gotten into 2019, 2020, 2021 raced a total of like 10 races in those three years and had like no time on practice or anything. And there was times that I didn't know if I was gonna keep racing or not. And so to be back here to get a win in these conditions was unbelievable.
Challenging with the mud like [the 450SX podium finishers were] talking about?
Yeah, it was very challenging. I mean, it was survival out there. It was really good to get off to a good start, get the holeshot and after that just stay up.
Results from Smith's last supercross main event win:
|KTM 250 SX-F
|Husqvarna FC 250
You had a really big lead. I think almost 20 seconds at one point. You had a really close call in this rhythm section right here at that point. Did you realize you had such a big lead? Did you like purposely back it down? And then at the end, did you realize Levi was catching you?
It was kind of hard for me to see my pit board. But I did come around lap two or three and I couldn't even see anyone on the straightway behind me. So, I knew I had it pretty decently. I was trying to just ride it like as hard as I could, as smart as I could, for as long as I could. [Laughs] And, yeah, I hit a rut and almost went over the bars in this rhythm section and after that kind of backed it down a little bit, I didn't hit that jump anymore and I was just trying to hit the jumps that I felt like I never were safe enough to hit. And I could see Levi behind me. And then I wasn't sure if he was in second or if he was a lapper cause we had passed so many people that lap so many people at that point. And then I did see, I put my pit board had, “Plus seven on 47” or something like that. So, I knew it was Levi and I kind of just kept tabs on him. Then, the last time I thought I had a pretty good lead and I kinda got stuck behind RJ. Like I think, like it's just hard to get out of the line and I was just like stuck following him and then I heard him coming in like in the last turn [Levi] and I was like, “Oh, I better go.” But, yeah, it was good.
Obviously staying up in a mud race proved some consistency and you were pretty consistent last year. Is that something you worked on through the years, to try to improve that? And then now you get points lead. That might be all the difference.
Yeah. Consistency is definitely, one of the things that I try and work on every day. We try and work on the bike to help… I can be pretty picky sometimes with like my front-end traction and stuff. It's something that we're trying to improve on every day, still trying to improve. As far as the mudders go, I've been pretty bad in my cases in my pro career, especially as of lately. At the mudder in New Jersey last year did terrible. I got 18. [Laughs] Then at High Point [National] in the mud, did not do good there either. We got here today, and Bobby said, “Jordon, I've seen you right in the mud. You just need to try and survive today, get as many points as you can.” And I was like, “All right, Bobby, well, I'm gonna try to prove your wrong, but you're kind of right.” [Laughs] So, I do feel like I've gotten better in the mud though. Like just riding at the practice track. And I think also riding outdoors [Pro Motocross] last year helped me because it is muddy and outdoors. Like, it's been a long time since I rode ruts like that before outdoors. So, I think that helped me as well.
You mentioned on the podium that there were some changes made that you weren't completely comfortable with that obviously worked out. Can you tell me what specifically those changes were?
Yeah, some suspension changes. We had changed, a front fork going into this week and after practice, I wasn't fully comfortable with it, so we were gonna soften it up a little bit. But we ended up going even softer to a softer fork that I had rode before and I was a little nervous just with the deep ruts and stuff that I was gonna start kinda like drag like the front was gonna get kind of pulled down with the deep ruts. Also, we decided to run a paddle before the heat race and I was a little nervous about the paddle because right out of the gates was really, really like, slick. It actually was pretty hard packed, it seemed like. So, I didn't know how the paddle was gonna go. But, yeah, they all worked out, uh, Star has done a lot of mud testing in the past and, yeah, it worked out pretty good.
This goes out kind of to all three guys on the podium tonight. As you're out there riding, you see a couple of the guys’ bikes expire. Does that kind of register your head as you're going through the race? We saw Jo [Shimoda] and Max [Vohland] out there. Does that change the way you're riding your bike because it kind of get in your head or you just in full on survival mode and that doesn't even register?
Yeah, I mean, it kinda always goes to your head in the mud race, especially. On the Yamaha, how we have a cable clutch and so you really have to be pretty aware of rolling the clutch back. If it gets too tight, then you'll kind of be dragging the clutch the whole time and you'll burn your clutch out in like a lap. So, you have to be pretty aware of that. So, I was definitely aware of that going into the race.
I can only imagine the things you gotta focus on at the end of the supercross race are intensified when it's muddy. Just take us through those last two laps, how hard it was to stay focused and how mentally draining it was to dodge all the carnage.
Yeah. It’s tough. You are out there and it's like Levi said, like anything on the podium tonight was gonna be just like a win, you know, I mean, if you get through this one and you're remotely close in points, you're happy. So, yeah, with two laps to go, I could see Levi there. I think he got it down to like maybe three or four seconds with a couple to go and if you hit one rhythm section and they miss it, I mean, that could be four seconds right there, literally, with how muddy it was. So, I was doing the rhythm, like right off the start and I was trying to just keep doing that double and single over the table and then just kind of take it easy the rest of the way. But, yeah, it's definitely hard to stay focused. Keep hitting your lines, especially that last lap. It's like, felt like that last lap was forever. And glad that I didn't know that Levi was so close until last turn. [Laughs]
You all three of you guys have a competitor out there. He hasn't made a main event yet. He's really trying. His name is Billy Lanonovich: 40 years old raise of voices or hands, how many of you could see yourselves at 40 plus trying to qualify for a main event and Jordon being the more uh elder of that group, you know, your closest. So what do you think?
Smith: I'm only 12 years and about two weeks away. [Laughs]