Penultimate round winners Webb and Sexton talk Wednesday in Utah.
The sixth race in a row at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City 6 delivered yet another fascinating 450SX main event with Cooper Webb (Red Bull KTM) keeping his title hopes alive, while in 250SX East it was a standout performance from Geico Honda’s Chase Sexton. Both spoke to the media afterwards in Utah.
Take me through the middle part of that race, it looked like you were being pretty patient, you had a solid push, but it didn’t look like you were all in. Then, all of a sudden something flipped. Was that because you knew Eli [Tomac] was coming or were you just kind of gauging the race and Zach [Osborne] in front of you and knowing at the time it was time to go?
Yeah, like you said, I saw Eli was making moves and he got around Jason [Anderson] and then Kenny [Roczen] was kind of all over me at the beginning. I felt like our pace was strong enough to not be freight-trained, I guess. And then yeah, about halfway I saw that Eli made the pass on Kenny, he was behind me, so I just knew it was time to go. I felt like Zach was riding well, but we needed to go a little faster, so I kind of got to a point where I needed to get around him and, I was able to, then obviously Eli got around him too, so I knew I had to finish strong. I felt like it was a sweet race for me, obviously to get another win. I think another thing too was I switched my line through the whoops about halfway and that seemed to give me a little better momentum through the whoops, which seemed to help. It was definitely a tough race and I saw on my pit-board that Eli did a 42.9s, I was like, ‘oh, it’s time to get going’. So yeah, I felt like I got going just in time.
The whoops, the jumps and the turn after the whoops were very similar to what they were the last race, and that’s actually where Kenny passed you, then you were struggling a bit in that section early. Was that a section you had been thinking about since Sunday and even during the race? Because somehow you went from a weakness to a strength there with about 10 minutes to go.
Yeah, I mean that was something that, even all day today, the flat turn was something that I struggled with. I don’t know what it was, but yeah, like I said, I switched lines in the whoops, I felt pretty good in the whoops at the beginning, but I kind of caught on to Zach’s line and when I started doing that, that’s where I felt like my whoop-speed was a lot better. I opened up that turn and it kind of all came together a lot there. It was, like I said, I think the last race, that’s where I was really slow and obviously lost the lead, so felt like I improved there. It was good to be able to make that adjustment during the race and I was pumped up.
Eli was catching you and you said you saw that. Was that just for the race win or was there a little something extra because you knew you had to finish in front of him to keep the title alive? Was there even a little extra motivation there?
Oh, for sure. Like I said, I felt like we were all riding really strong and I think Eli was really ripping some good lap times and he kind of caught up to the pack and… I know how the Honda sounds, and then I know how the Kawi sounds, so I saw he got behind me and I was like ‘alright, it’s game on, it’s time to go’. Like I said, I felt like I fixed a few things and got my lap-times down a bit. Yeah, for sure, obviously he’s got a nice points-lead, but I wanted to try to at least make it to Sunday and see if there was any hope. Overall, it was a good night. To be able to take it to Sunday, there was the motivation there and then also me and Kenny are really tight with the second in the series, so I wanted to get as many points on him too. Obviously there’s always motivation, that’s never a lack of for me anyway.
When you made the pass on Zach for the lead, that was about as sketchy and on the edge as you could do it. Did you just know I have to do this right now and put the throttle all the way to the stop before you hit the whoops or was there a little bit of a mistake when you made that pass?
Right before I had gotten close there, it was a little sketchy, for sure. I wasn’t sure I was going to make that happen, I just kind of clipped that off and went a lot deeper than I was trying to. I felt like I had picked up on that line in the whoops and I was a little faster there at the later part of the race. I think it was more like I had to get going if I want a chance at winning and obviously holding off Eli too.
I know how much you loved flat corners the first time around, so what did you think about this time?
Yeah, it’s definitely been a lot of them, so I’ve been pretty happy. That’s something where I feel like in the past, I’ve always struggled more on these hard-packed tracks, especially when I look at when we go to Phoenix and stuff like that. I feel like my hard-packed riding has been the best it’s ever been, so I’ve been happy with it, but always room to improve.
Three Wednesdays, three wins on a Wednesday. Are you petitioning Feld for Wednesdays in the future and have you always been a guy that’s been great middle of the week or is this something new?
It’s something new. Usually Wednesdays off, so I think I’m getting great results, I’ve gotten first and second at all the races so far and I couldn’t ask for much more. I don’t know, the team was asking me that too and I don’t know what the answer is. After you get beat, you’re always fired up to want to go out in the next race, so that’s just how it’s worked out. So far, Wednesdays have been really good.
Chase, how important was tonight’s win just going into the Showdown? Was there extra emphasis on making sure you got the win tonight?
Yeah, I mean, definitely. I mean, six [points] is definitely better than zero, but at the same time, six isn’t that big of a gap either. You still got to go out there and do good, so yeah, I mean, it was definitely important. I feel the last mud race was good for me and then I wanted to be able to come back and just put in another good ride. And I think, I really focused tonight on just doing consistent laps and try and keep the pace. I feel like a lot of other races, I fell off later in the race, so for me, just trying to keep that early pace going. And it’s hard with the lappers out there because they’re pretty chaotic, so no, it was a solid night for me. I felt good throughout the day and, yeah, I really liked the track tonight – the dirt was really good. So looking forward to Sunday and putting us all together, I’m sure it’s going to be pretty chaotic.
Can you talk about that pass on Shane McElrath a little bit?
I just knew I was good in that rhythm section and I knew that I could get close to him. I got a really good drive off the backside of that first jump and then soaked up the first triple, so I was like, ‘alright, I got to make the pass here’. No, it was good. I mean, it was pretty aggressive, but also I didn’t want to give Shane another chance to get back on me in the next corner. I had to make it stick and then from there on, I just tried to sprint away and hit my marks as good as I can while going through lappers. The track was really good and I enjoyed that main event.
Obviously on Sunday, the priority will be to win the east coast championship, but how important is a good result up against 250SX West?
Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to this East/West [Showdown] all year. I want to race everybody and I think we were supposed to have two this year, but we’re only going to get to race one. So for me, I want to go out there and have that offensive mentality and put myself in a good position, hopefully can run up there and try to win the race. I think I want to prove some stuff on Sunday and, yeah, I feel tonight I rode well, so hopefully carry that into Sunday. Just yeah, come in with the offensive mentality and I want to win that race, so I’m looking forward to getting out there and mixing up with the rest of the crew.