Main event winners Anderson and Craig recall sixth round in California.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson secured his second win of the season at Anaheim 3, lifting him one step closer toward the red plate, as Christian Craig continued his dominance in a bruising night of 250SX West to claim another victory. Both riders were available to the media following the race for this Debrief interview feature.
Jason, taking your second win of the season, how would you describe that race?
It was a tough one, just mentally. The track was tough, the whoops were super-technical. For me, getting the holeshot and leading the whole race is just tough on you in general, especially with Eli behind me – as it would show from the past, he’s relentless and he’s a tough one to keep behind you. It was tough for me, but just pushing and trying to hit my marks and stuff like that, it was tough, but we were able to make it happen.
Talk about that track, the whoops alone seemed death-defying every lap and the dirt was pretty brutal, it looked like. What was the track like for you, actually being out there?
For Anaheim 3, it was actually pretty rutted. I was actually really impressed because usually by the time we get to the third one, the dirt is kind of baked and it’s really hard-packed. In that main event, the Dirt Wurx guys kept the track really good. I will say those whoops were very tough and getting the start was crucial for me, because I didn’t want to go through the whoops in the middle of the pack because it just would make me nervous. I was able to get out front, I was hitting the whoops on the right, and I felt like Eli was catching me a little bit, then I started going to the left. Then by the end of the race, I don’t think there was really a good line and I think we all had some moments in them. It was a brutal track and it was steep, too – I think this was the steepest rhythms and everything that we’ve had so far this year.
You celebrated a lot on that last lap… It looked like this one, I don’t know if it felt like it meant more to you, but there was a lot of celebrating. Do you feel like you’re getting yourself into the championship now and at a point where you are ready to go after this?
These wins, for me, they’ve been few and far between, so to be able to be two wins so far this season is amazing, it just makes you want more. I think for us, this whole crew up here, we’re kind of the older guys in the class. We’ve been racing each other for an insane amount of years. To be at our age and still be the top three running guys is really cool, so I think any win right now from here on out for the rest of my career is something to celebrate. I turn 29 next week, but realistically for our sport, there hasn’t been a champion over the age of 28.
You led all 22 laps tonight, but there was one spot where you guys kind of swapped the lead real quick. How do you manage pressure when you guys are battling that close?
It’s tough. It’s more of a mental game with yourself to be able to go back and forth and still fight. It’s tough, honestly, managing it, I feel like you’re talking to yourself the whole main event. I think we are used to it and just excited. That’s a tough thing to do, it’s kind of mental and it’s a battle between the both of us. It’s not always easy to have that pressure at the beginning and be able to handle it for 22 laps. That’s something that I’ve never been able to do. That was a first for me, so it feels good.
How critical is it to kind of halt the momentum that Eli had coming into this round? Obviously, for you, climbing up to second in points now, so in good position.
Yeah, momentum is key in everything we do in this sport. That’s part of the game, you want to be the one carrying the momentum and stuff like that. To be able to get a win is cool, but for the long game it’s important. For us to be able to be in the hunt when it comes to that last round, I think it was crucial to be able to start knocking off wins and be able to be in the battle. Every night is not going to go like that, it’s going to be tougher some nights than others and I’m just hoping to be in the battle week in and week out and get to that last round and have a good shot at the championship.
You’ve had some great races and a couple I’m sure that were frustrating where you were fast and the podium got away from you. How have you been able to take that this year? Were you frustrated or have you able to just say, ‘hey, in the long run if I’m fast, it’s all going to work out’? Some circumstances were out of your hands this year.
I think some things were out of my hands, but then at the end of the day, it’s dirt bikes and they’re very unpredictable, so for me to be able to bounce back from that, I think the biggest thing is just having the mindset that all I can do is really try my best every day. That’s kind of what I’m sticking to. Last week I got second in that first Triple Crown and then I tried to do a little transfer off the track over the bars [laughs] and I had to bounce back and try my best in that third one and I was able to do a little bit of damage control. That’s the game. I think as far as mentally and how I’ve been able to handle that, my team has been good and I’m just trying my best. That’s all I can do every day, put my best foot forward and keep chugging along.
I’ve been asking everybody about the sand section, what do you think about it? You had some close calls, but no matter the lappers, qualifying, just watching you guys go through that section was gnarly all day, especially when you’re trying to get a fast lap. Sand sections in Supercross… what do you guys think about it?
It’s tough when you’re coming through the pack and stuff. The sand section, I tried both lines – I tried outside and inside and then I ended up sticking to the inside when it got a little bit more defined. The way they prep it, you do it on the sight lap and you have no idea what to do. They honestly made you change the rhythm that you did, because I was jumping over double, but then they made a shelf to where you kind of had to go on, off, and then kind of jump into the sand. They changed the rhythm a little bit. It’s unpredictable and it definitely can be a game-changer, and then when you’re going through lappers and stuff there, they don’t know where to go. Sometimes when they see blue flags it means hit the main line, right?
We are a third of the way through the championship now, has this shaped up the way you expected coming into the season? What are your thoughts after six races?
I think for the season, you come into Anaheim 1 and there is so much unknown. It’s for me a new bike, for [Tomac] a new bike and I think both of us are sitting in a good spot. For me, I’m hoping to have a good battle and may the best man win. I think there are some other guys that could creep into the picture, it’s going to be good, but I think me and Eli are sitting good and it’s going to be some good battling as the season goes on.
Christian, extending the points lead tonight. You never want to see another guy in the field go down, but Hunter Lawrence suffered tonight in the points. For you to have that little bit of breathing room, are you going to sleep a little better at night?
Yes and no. I’ve just got to keep the momentum going, just keep doing what I’m doing. It’s a bummer that that did happen, I felt like that was a good battle brewing. He was matching me in the whoops and we were only four laps in, so I felt like he was pushing the envelope. Unfortunately, it bit him. It bit a lot of riders tonight. After I saw him go down, I kind of checked up, I just focused on my laps, no mistakes and was just very cautious with lappers, I feel like it was pretty sketchy out there tonight. It’s a bummer that Hunter did go down, but it’s a good way to go on this little break we have and just keep the momentum going for Seattle.
You made the move to Florida over the off-season and now you’ve spent the last month and a bit in California. Are you excited to go home and get the kids and the family back home to a normal routine… how does it feel to just have this break?
Yeah, get the kids back in school. They had a little nice seven-week break, but I get to drive the truck back in the morning to Florida, so that will be fun – a two-day trip, I’m excited. This still feels like home to me, California. Just a lot of good vibes here and I’m going to miss it, but get back to work in Florida and grind out some outdoors for a couple weeks.
Just going into what you have going in these next few weeks, like you said, going to do a little bit of 450 time, how does that transition when you go back to Supercross?
Say I was going 450 to Supercross and then back to 250, that would probably be tricky, but now that I’m going outdoors to 450 and then jumping back straight to Supercross [on the 250], so I don’t think it will be too much of a problem. It will be short – two weeks, maybe a little bit more, of outdoors – and then we’ll get straight back to Supercross. Our break is tricky, it’s weird this year. Usually we get an eight-week break and then it’s two rounds. This year we get five and then we get two and then another break and then two, so got to like play it smart, try to get some outdoor testing in, but then also stay on top of Supercross.
Vince [Friese] and Christian, after what happened last weekend, did you guys talk it through before tonight’s race? Were you thinking of what happened last weekend tonight?
He sent me a note, but other than that, we haven’t talked.
Michael Mosiman: I saw a hand-shake on the podium…
Yeah, a hand-shake, he sent me a note mid-week. Read that, it’s a racing incident. I’ve completely moved on, I’ve got to focus on what was tonight, I can’t dwell on that too long. It was a bummer deal, but those things happen. You’ve just got to learn from it and move on.
I know that you’re not scheduled to do the 450 in Supercross on the east coast, but with the type of form that you’re in, especially a race up in terms of the points now, is there any real itch for you to get out there? Where are you at with that?
Yeah, pre-season I actually mentioned it a couple times to the team. To be in this position, this is obviously my goal to win this championship or be in the position I am. It would be fun, but it’s a lot of risk. I wouldn’t be fighting for a championship there, but yeah, you never know. Who knows if I get a call one day to go race a round or something – I’m all about it. I want to keep going, I’m not all about these five-week breaks or any break. I want to keep racing and keep going every weekend. As long as I’m riding, I’m happy.
This is the third Anaheim, talk about the difference in the dirt over the three races. It really from home looked like it was beat, hard pack and dusty during the day, then really just fell apart at night. Was that how it was on track?
I feel like A2 and A3 were similar, lots of water during the day, so sketchy during the day then decent at night. Tonight was tricky because it had some ruts, but then some very slick spots, I learned that in the heat race and was like, ‘alright I have got to be patient in this turn and I can pick it up here’. The whoops were just the deciding factor tonight, even had a few close calls in them, I couldn’t find the right line in them… I was going right, left and middle and I felt like every time was a little sketchy. Just stayed consistent in them, hit my marks and hit lines and did my laps.