At the 2024 250SX East Region Championship opener, Coty Schock had his best supercross day to date. Qualifying 18th overall, finishing sixth in his heat, and then pulling a great start inside the top five to avoid the turn one carnage, he looked like a season vet en route to a career-best fourth in the main event. But that has not always been the case.
“I'm stoked,” he put it simply Saturday night. “I mean, I've never done well at openers. I've gotten 17th, I've gotten 12th. I sucked on openers. So, for me to come out here with a fourth, that's cool.”
Well, in 2020, Schock didn’t even make a main event start until the seventh round of the 250SX East Region (the Salt Lake City 3 SX in the final seven events at Rice-Eccles Stadium mid-COVID-19 pandemic). He notably celebrated a direct-transfer ninth-place finish in his heat race with a huge first pump to the sky. He finished 19th in that first main event. Like it has for many rookies, supercross has brought a steep learning curve.
A year later at the ’21 Daytona Supercross, he was running in third on his Honda CRF250R for the first nine laps of the main event. He was solid until it all came apart late in the race. He came through ninth at the checkered flag on lap 14. Oh, what could have been.
A seventh in the Atlanta 2 SX main event a month later was Schock’s career best through the 2022 and 2023 seasons. He put in some solid rides on a CRF450R in the premier class of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship, but he had yet to crack the top-five in a 250SX main event. He delt with some injuries and navigated getting better and never stopped grinding.
After his deal with the Phoenix Racing Honda team ended quickly in the off-season, he managed to get a ride with the Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX race team. Even last year with Honda he had been training at ClubMX, so joining the team this past off-season was not a huge change in his program. But he had to make the switch in bike brands. He jumped in with the Club boys and got to work. He was anticipating the opening round after a strong preseason.
“Practice days have been going really well battling with J-Mart [Jeremy Martin], and Jett [Reynolds], Phil [Nicoletti], and Garrett [Marchbanks], everyone there [at ClubMX],” Schock said. “I mean, the boys do not slack. So, every day we bring our A game.”
He thought bike setup wise he was in a good spot entering the opener but quickly learned in the first session his suspension was too stiff.
“I felt like we had the bike in a pretty good spot and then coming here, it was still in a really good spot, but I just wasn't really comfortable, and it definitely showed in qualifying,” Schock said. “Free practice, I was 12th. First qualifying session, I was a solid 18th fastest and I was like, ‘Heck yeah, you're doing great.’ [Laughs] And then the second session I think I got to like 15th and end up 16th overall. So, it was definitely not ideal.”
“But Ty [Rayfield] our suspension technician, he's solid,” Schock added. “Fortunately, him and I have a really good relationship, communicating wise, and he made the bike better each session. We ended the heat race, and I was like, ‘Okay, I like where the bikes at.’”
The adjustments set Shock up for success in the main event. It was his time to execute when the gates dropped. Top five start to finish for the #69. Yes, there were a bunch of riders down in the first turn. But this time while running up front, Schock finished the job, getting redemption from his Daytona SX round that unfolded in the last stages a few years ago. First top-five finish, check.
After the race, he was emotional as he celebrated with the team and his new fiancé Emily. Usually, all smiles and laughs on any given race weekend, Schock was especially ecstatic in the post-race media scrum.
“I went into the main just trying to treat it like any other practice day at Club with all the boys,” he said. “And, yeah, I just got to a good start, and, I mean, I didn't even know I was in fifth or fourth or anything. Dakota [Weber, mechanic] didn't put anything on the pit board. He was just like, ‘Trust yourself.’ And when I crossed the finish, I saw one, two, three, and then my name came up on fourth. I was like, I feel like I just won! [Laughs] It feels awesome.”
Struggling earlier in the day left Schock doubting himself. But team owner Brandon Haas still believed in his rider.
“It was like, okay, first session sucked,” Schock stated outright. “I mentally was like battling myself and Brandon's over there like, ‘Dude, you're good. He was like work out the kinks now so that when we go racing, we got nothing to worry about,’ and the dude was spot on. So, I mean, Brandon Haas for believing in me, it's been insane. And, yeah, I just want to keep delivering for these guys because they work their ass off.”
It’s all the hard days at the practice track, putting in motos, testing bike setup, and also working closely with the team personnel that made race day go so much better. His own strong performance on race day was especially helpful to the team, which lost Jett Reynolds in practice (AC separation) and then Jeremy Martin (concussion) in a heat race. Schock carried the flag for the team in the races.
“Yeah, I mean, every day at Club, we have Brandon, Greg [Chidgey, crew chief], Dakota, Ty, all the mechanics out on the track and they're always watching, trying to help us be better and they listen to our feedback and don't tell us like, ‘Hey, you're crazy for thinking that.’ It's like, ‘Okay, why is he thinking that or why is he feeling that?’ So, they're a very understanding group. And when we come to the race, they show the footage because footage doesn't lie, and they just keep a positive mindset through it all. Like, ‘Hey, it might not have been your best session, but we can take this section and this section and there are really good sections but let's tinker with these other two and you'll have a complete lap.’ And that's what we did today for me.”
Schock scored his eighth top-ten finish in his 24th 250SX main event start to date. The 250SX East Region is back on track at the Arlington Supercross February 24 in Texas, so the BluCru squad is back at ClubMX getting back after it at the facility this week.
“It definitely reassures me that I'm doing the right thing with everyone down at Club. But it kind of sucks because I'd like to keep the momentum going,” he said. “But you know what, it's okay. I felt like we learned a lot today and we can go back to the practice track and we can apply that as well. And just make sure when we come into Arlington, we don't have to get comfortable from the first qualifying session to the main. It's like immediately comfy and then we can start building.”
How far will Schock be able to carry his momentum from the opener?