Nearly a year after a costly mistake with two laps to go cost Aaron Plessinger his first ever 450SX main event win, the Ohio native got the damn thing done at the San Diego Supercross over the weekend! After starting inside the top five, Plessinger made his way up to second place and started applying pressure to race leader Ken Roczen. When Roczen made a mistake, Plessinger took over the race lead, but he then had to navigate the remainder of the race from the tricky track conditions to the lappers and the racers behind him.
His former teammate and long-time friend Cooper Webb was closing up on him near the end of the race, but AP7 held on to claim the main event win! Not only did Plessinger’s win write his name into the AMA Supercross history books, but the win also gives him the points lead after three rounds, as he will have the 450SX points lead for the first time when he enters the fourth round Anaheim 2 Supercross January 267.
After a lot of celebrating with his team, wife, and even his competitors, Plessinger joined the media in the post-race press conference.
Aaron Plessinger, you’re the 68th 450 class winner in history. I think the question is obvious. After Detroit last year, the heartbreak, not just for you but for all your fans, and that's pretty much everyone, including the racers around you right now. How does this feel, this moment, to get your first supercross win in the 450 class?
Aaron Plessinger: Yeah, it's great. It's nice rebound and honestly, this is the gear from Detroit. So, we got a rebound for that too! It feels really, really good. I guess it feels like it should and yeah, got off to a good start and just rode a good race. Kenny [Roczen] was out front and then I just applied a little pressure, and he ended up going down. Then Coop was right there behind me. He was keeping me on my toes and, so was Eli. Yeah, it was a really good race. I just got a good lead and just rode my own race and stayed up. [Laughs] Seemed like we were lapping a lot of people. So, it feels good and I'm ready to do it again next weekend.
Points leader as well. You gonna feel the pressure for that or is that gonna motivate you to just do even better and extend that lead?
[Laughs] Only time will tell, but I think I can handle it!
It feels like there's been this massive momentum for you this year. I think last year, maybe some struggles. But this year, a lot of the clips of you riding for a season, you looked very good. You look really comfortable, and you can always see the fan engagement. Do you feel like there's starting to really be some AP momentum? Not just race results, but just your standing as a personality in this sport as supercross grows and gets bigger?
Yeah, for sure. I don't really know what it is about this year but ever since I got back on the bike…you know, we made a few changes to it and I haven't really made definitely changes since. It was just a good off season, really good, really solid. Then to start out like I did, you know, 4-5-1, it's great. I mean, it's my best start ever and now I got the red plate. So, it's awesome and yeah, man, the fans are…they're crazy for being out here in the rain, but they stuck it out. I don't know, it feels unreal. I feel like I'm ready to get back and go back to work and do it again next weekend.
Was it nerve wracking having an Eli right on you? You lapped him, and he stayed right there. Did you notice him?
Yeah, I mean, I thought it was Coop for the longest time, and I looked back, and it was #3. I felt a little bit better, but I also knew he was not gonna roll over and he would probably pass me back if I made a mistake. So, he kind of kept me on my toes and then, like Coop said it was a really weird race. I almost ran into the back of a lot of people. It's one lined out there and yeah, it was crazy. It was crazy. Weird race.
|KTM 450 SX-F
|GasGas MC 450F
Were you having any flashbacks to last year?
I was making sure my toes were tucked, that's for sure! [Laughs] I wasn't hanging them things off. Yeah, for sure. I was definitely having flashbacks and 'd be lying if I said I wasn't repeating ‘Don't crash’ in my head all the way around the track. Then the last lap and I almost did in the whoops. But, yeah, I mean, I was definitely nervous and it was definitely going through my head but I just had to keep it on two wheels and I knew I'd be good.
I watched you grow up in GNCC [Grand National Cross Country] and your dad's an AMA Hall of Famer in that series. Specifically where you're from has the worst mud you could possibly ride in. So, just talk about the experience you had growing up specifically in this real sticky stuff and your dad, who's maybe even better than you at riding it, and what you learned from him?
Yeah, I mean, in Ohio, it's almost exactly like this. We’ve got a race up in Saint Clairsville, Ohio, it's called Power Line Park GNCC. And when it would get muddy there, I mean, it would stick, and you would have to go down the straightaway wide open to clean your tires out. And then you pretty much have to do that over and over again because when you get in the woods it would just clog up and, and soon enough you wouldn't be rolling anymore. So, you had to knock the mud off. This was kind of like that. If you started going slow, it would cake up on your tires. My dad always told me to keep my feet on the pegs and the faster you go, the easier it is. So, yeah, I kinda did that. But I think this mud is very, very, similar to the mud in Ohio.
Just a follow up to that, you've been good at these when these tracks that deteriorate, right? You’re good in the mud. Now, you've had three rounds in a couple of different types of tracks. Red plate for you. Do you feel like that stigma sort of disappears that, you know, I'm good at everything. I can be just as good as every other guy even in the dry. How does that go for you?
Yeah, I mean, I think I proved that last year at Detroit, up until we had that crash. But yeah, I think I'm good everywhere if I get a start. You know, it's hard to come through 13 guys that can potentially win this thing. It's such a stacked field this year. It's crazy. It's crazy to think about when you look down the line. It's so gnarly. But yeah, I think I can be good anywhere.
When you pulled over on the track after the race, all your competitors, all your peers that you've been racing with three years stopped and genuinely congratulated you. The stadium went absolutely nuts. What did that feel like?
Man, it felt great. Like you said, just about everybody pulled over and congratulated me and it was just cool. It was really cool to see that. I mean, I guess that's where being a nice guy pays off! Being pretty much friends with everybody on the track is awesome in my eyes. I've grown up racing just about every one of these guys, whether they were older than me or younger than me and, and it's just cool to see them, you know, repay the favor. I've been stoked for almost every one of these guys up here all the guys on the track. So, for them to see that be stoked for me, it's pretty cool, man.
Justin Barcia adds this thoughts: This is a really cool podium. All of us have been teammates on this table together. All three of us have trained together at my facility in Florida. This is a really cool table. We all kind of grew up riding together. Professional career, we’ve all trained together, we’ve all been teammates together on different teams. So, this is a really cool podium and I'm super proud to be on this podium tonight. And yeah, just keep plugging along, get strong and hopefully a lot more podiums with these boys.
Cooper Webb adds a note at the very end: I can tell a back story. I remember his first day of supercross 2012 was very scary. Very scary! [Laughs] I think he would tell you. So, I look back at that and we've been training partners and buddies for a long time and all the work we put in. I'm proud to say that. Now it's his first one, so it's pretty dang cool.