Assorted racer comments following the third round of the season.
A selection of riders break down how their nights went during an action-packed round three in Houston as the series packs up and heads to Indianapolis for round four.
Cooper Webb (Red Bull KTM) – First:
It was a close race the whole time and Kenny [Roczen] rode a solid race with not many mistakes. The track was really tricky, easy to over-ride and get impatient. The lappers there at the end was a bummer, I felt like we were going to have a really good battle, and obviously we did, but the lappers were really tough tonight. I hung in there and I pounced on that last lap and made it happen. I’ve really got to give it up to my team, they’re amazing.
Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM) – 13th:
I started off not so good with the heat race, I was in a decent position but Malcolm Stewart overshot the end of the whoops, blocked me and I went down. I got back to eighth, which was decent for the Heat race, I did not want to go to the LCQ. In the main I was on the outside, and couldn’t get a great start, and couldn’t close the guys on my right. I went too quick over the wall and hit [Vince] Friese, I don’t know what happened, but after that I was dead last. I tried my best to make up as many points as possible. I’m very disappointed, but ready for a week of work and to come back stronger.
Justin Barcia (TLD Red Bull GasGas) – Fourth:
I felt good going into the Main Event. The track was pretty rough and beat up and I came off the line a little bit late and didn’t get the best of start but I worked my way up to fourth. I was behind third and made a mistake in the sand and went down. All-in-all, I should have been on the podium but we’ll regroup and be ready for Indy. We are in a good spot, the bike feels great, I’m feeling good and the speed is definitely there, I just need to keep it on two wheels, keep nailing the starts and put myself in a good position to be in the fight.
Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) – Eighth:
My night was pretty good, I ended up getting a top-10 and I feel like I’m coming around, just going to try to keep getting better from here.
Zach Osborne (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) – Ninth:
My night was rather disappointing honestly. I feel like I’m riding the best I’ve ever been riding in my life – and in my 450 career – and to start with two 10th places and a ninth is a little disappointing. I’ll improve this week and be better in Indy.
Dean Wilson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) – 11th:
My night was okay. I didn’t get a great start, I really pushed the first corner trying to be up there but everyone is so good at starts. I was outside top-15 and came back to 11th, which is not really what we want but we’ll keep pushing to be better.
Malcolm Stewart (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) – Sixth:
I guess I’d say H3 was not bad, actually. Throughout the day, we didn’t have the best qualifying, but the lap times were right there with the top guys. For us, it was more about riding smart and picking the right lines. I struggled a little bit in practice, but then in the Heat, I actually rode really well. I just tried to keep that same mentality going into the Main Event. I had Eli [Tomac] right there but made a few mistakes. We ended up sixth and AP [Aaron Plessinger] was right behind me. So hats off to him. He rode excellent. I feel like we made a lot of improvements with the bike and are getting it in the right direction. I’m really excited for Indy. It’s going to be a completely different track, dirt, and everything. I’m really looking forward to that and to see how that goes. But for now, I’m going to go home and watch some football, get a couple of days off, and get ready for the week.
Aaron Plessinger (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) – Seventh:
I think it was a better day overall than Houston 2. It started out well. I qualified 10th and then in the Heat race, I got an okay start. I got passed by (Jason) Anderson and kind of got stuck there. I didn’t really go forward until the last lap, and then it was too late. The track was really, really sticky going out for the Main. I got a great start in fourth until a few guys got me and I went backward a little bit. The whole race I was feeling good, but towards the middle, I kind of tightened up a little bit. I think I just need to keep charging. Overall, it was a good day and I’m happy with it. We’ll keep moving forward. The next race is Indy, a hometown race for me. We’re going to bring the heat.
Dylan Ferrandis (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) – 12th:
It was a difficult track. Nothing really crazy, but it was hard to do everything correctly and make no mistakes. We struggled a little bit with the bike and tried some different settings today. We wanted to give it a chance and try some stuff, but it didn’t work. We came back to what we had at the last race, but I just didn’t feel good on the bike today. I was a little tired from the past two races with the lack of training this winter. It was a hard day. In the Main, I was doing what I could to finish in the top 10 but then I crashed alone at the end of the race and lost some places. It was not a good day of racing for me. We’re going to try to rebound at the next race.
Adam Cianciarulo (Monster Energy Kawasaki) – Third:
I finally finished the race where I started and in all seriousness, today was a good day to build on. The first round in Houston was decent but I didn’t have the speed to run with the front group, and then I blew it on Tuesday at round two, so I told myself today that we just needed to stay present-minded and execute the way we practice each week. I felt good all day with being quickest in free practice and then right behind Eli [Tomac] in qualifying. I was pumped on my heat race. Did you see that start I got on my KX450? That thing is a beast! I was able to gain some confidence heading into the main event from leading that heat from start to finish. In the main, I got another good jump and in the opening laps, I thought I could get second place at one point, and I thought I might be able to get both of those guys in first and second, but as the race went on the lapped traffic was a real challenge to find safe and efficient passing lanes, so we settled for third. I am looking forward to getting away from these tight tracks and sand sections that we had here in Houston and excited to carry the momentum to Indy.
Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki) – Fifth:
Overall, my day was alright. This morning I was able to find the right setting and as a result, I was able to qualify fastest heading into the night show. I didn’t get the best jump in the heat race and Adam [Cianciarulo] was riding well. I could see that I was catching him, but just ran out of time, so I knew my speed was good going into the main event. I had a decent jump out the gate in the main event, but that tricky right-handed start made some riders near me bobble and resulted in me getting shuffled back. Again, I was able to charge forward, but the track broke down and was pretty gnarly tonight, so we just had to manage for fifth. We are leaving Houston healthy and just six points down from the leader in fourth. We’ll spend the few days off we have getting ready for Indy.
Justin Brayton (Muc-Off Honda) – 10th:
I stand by what I have said from the first round. The first 15 guys are fast and you need a good start to race for podium finishes. Round three proved hard, my starts were a little off and it hurt our overall finish. We have some things to work on between now and round four. We are competitive against the factory teams; our bike will only get better as we make minor adjustments. These last three rounds have provided us with valuable data and I am confident we have a solid foundation we can build on. It’s easy to be disappointed with a 10th after you’ve just finished in third the race before but you need to put it in perspective. I am three points from fourth and nine points from first and its been six years since I sat inside of the top five this early on in the championship. It’s a really positive position to be in. We are competitive and I am confident we will be racing for more podiums.
Ken Roczen (Team Honda HRC) – Second:
We had a pretty solid night, winning the heat race and then grabbing a good start in the main event. We put a pass on Cooper [Webb] and I was leading the way until the last lap, when [Dean] Wilson got in my way and was ahead of me for three quarters of a lap. I was yelling and screaming. He said he didn’t hear me, but obviously there were blue flags around. I hit the back of his wheel and almost went down – a lot of madness going on. I passed him, but at that point that was the end of the race. We came in second place, even though we should’ve had the win. A lot of positives to take away here though, with the red plate and a second-place finish. It’s not ideal but I’m looking forward to Indy.
Maximus Vohland (Red Bull KTM) – Sixth:
Tonight was great! The heat race was awesome, I got off to a really good start and was able to get out front early and lead a majority of the laps. I felt really comfortable riding up front. In the main, I got off to another good start and I got into third early and was hanging onto those guys but I got into a run-in with another guy and ended up breaking a spring in my shifter. I couldn’t shift and I let that get to me a little bit but I was still able to come back and get sixth so overall it was an awesome night. I learned a lot and I’m looking forward to going into Indy.
Michael Mosiman (TLD Red Bull GasGas) – Fifth:
I was just a little bit off all day but I brought it together for the night show. In the heat race I was really frustrated; I feel like Jett [Lawrence] kind of walked away from me. I made a couple little mistakes but I think I had the speed. In the main event, I made some adjustments, got a better start and then there was chaos. I was in third and things were looking good, I got into some lapped traffic and Jett [Lawrence] caught up to me and absolutely plowed me. There is blood in the water and it’s going to be an exciting season.
Jo Shimoda (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) – Fourth:
My main event start was better than the first two rounds, but I should have made a few better decisions on the first two corners because it cost me a few spots. I did feel much better this race from the start, but I couldn’t get comfortable in the whoops and it was causing a little arm pump. It takes a lot of energy out of you so that will be something I need to fix for the next race.
Colt Nichols (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) – First:
It felt just like another day at the Yamaha test track out in California with me and Christian [Craig] just kind of trading laps. I got a good start. I’ve been struggling with my starts all day, so I’m glad we turned that around. I really just tried to be patient. I knew where he was a little faster, so I tried to pick up on a few lines. It felt great to finally get a win. It has been a while so I’m going to soak it in. It’s awesome to have the red plate, me and Christian will be sharing it so that is cool for the team. I’m looking forward to Indy and ready to keep the momentum rolling.
Christian Craig (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) – Second:
Houston 3 went pretty well. I qualified fastest again which was great. In the heat, I don’t know how but I was in third gear so I had a terrible start. I worked my way up from almost last to win it. In the main, I led most of the laps but Colt [Nichols] was right on me the whole time. He ended up getting me with a few laps to go. I was bummed but nothing I can do now but learn from my mistakes and keep trying to get better.
Mitchell Oldenburg (Muc-Off Honda) – 20th:
I am bummed, I had a good opportunity to gain some solid points before round four and the crash has set us back. Nonetheless it happened and there were positives before the crash, I was feeling the strongest I had felt in ages. I need to put this behind me and focus on what’s ahead. I just need to race for podiums, I need to regroup and get back to a level I know I can ride at. The bike is awesome, the team is doing an amazing job and I need to get on with it and ride the way I know how to.
Jett Lawrence (Team Honda HRC) – Third:
The day wasn’t bad. I qualified strong; I was a little sore after my crash in the last qualifying session, but I felt okay in the heat race and knew I had to improve in the main event. Unfortunately, I messed up the start and had to make my way through the pack, and by the time I got into third the leaders were gone. I’m happy to salvage a podium, but we’re much better than that. I’m looking forward to Indy, to get back on top and start chipping away at these six points.