Features 19 Apr 2022

Debrief: 2022 Supercross Rd14 Atlanta

Main event winners Anderson and Lawrence recall 14th round.

The 14th round of 2022 Monster Energy Supercross saw Jason Anderson (Monster Energy Kawasaki) return to the top step in 450SX, as Team Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence emerged victorious in the first East/West Showdown of the season. Both riders were available to the media following the race for this Debrief feature. 


Image: Octopi Media.

You had some wins earlier in the season. Right there back and forth, getting a win almost every other weekend, then had a rough patch. What was that like for you? How did you process that last month and a half where the speed was there, but there were just mistakes along the way? How did you fight through that, regroup and get the big one here today?

It’s like I had everything going for me there for a little bit and then once we got to Daytona, it kind of fell apart. It was frustrating though, because it was just situations that shouldn’t be happening. It’s just reading the race and managing it a little bit better. It’s tough to keep pushing and trying whenever it seems like nothing is going right there for a second. To get this win and stuff like that, is good. Last weekend I was kind of bummed because the off-weekend, I feel like I made some good progress. Had a little bit of a cold last weekend, and then this weekend felt better but you still kind of doubt yourself a little bit, but to be able to get that win feels really good.

How was the track today? It obviously had its changes, but mid-main event there when it was most important, what was it like for you?

It wasn’t too terrible, it was really slick in practice. The whoops, they were kind of cupped, but they weren’t actually too terrible and not too sketchy. But it kept you on your toes. The high-speediness of the track is kind of intimidating, especially yesterday when you saw all those huge jumps and stuff like that. Thankfully they tamed it down a little bit. It’s kind of an intimidating track because Daytona I don’t think is as big. I think it’s a little more sandy so it keeps the pace down a little bit, but this Georgia clay is a little bit more high-speed. But it’s good. Good track.

From your Twitter comments yesterday, you didn’t seem to like the track, but I feel like it came around quite a bit. It made for some good racing. Did it change your opinion? I know you just said it was a good track, but did it change your opinion from yesterday?

Yeah. To be honest, right now I believe that 80 percent of the 450 class is out with injury. Then I think like 120-foot triple, I understand they want shock value for the fans to be like, longest start straight, longest triple, but at the end of the day, we’re four rounds away from the end. Let us get through the season. Have good racing. We’re all going to have to hit the triple, but it’s going to rain too and we’re all still going to try and hit the triple. Luckily, the track ended up good. I just think the shock value that they’re trying to get out of some of the obstacles they put in is a little bit too much for us racers and our safety. But at the same time, I understand where their head is at, but us as racers, we’re humans and we want to stay safe. We want to limit the risk. We know the risk that we take, and when they make it a little bit bigger and we don’t really have control over that, it’s a little bit frustrating for me, personally. I hate to be the Karen, but at the same time, I feel like someone needs to speak or I need to speak. If something happened to me on one of those jumps, I’d be frustrated if I didn’t say anything.

Eli and Jason, I want to go back to the heat race battle you guys had. It just looked like a lot of fun, the two of you going back and forth a little bit. Take me through that, and also that bit of a scary moment as you came out from under the over-under bridge.

It was a good battle. For me, I kept feeling him. I’m telling you, that Yamaha is so loud where the air intake is. You can hear it from far behind. I felt it getting louder after that sand section every time. I’m sure it was tough to pass, and especially in those heat races it’s tough to pass. It was a good battle.

Historically, Atlanta has some of the biggest crowds in the stadiums, 70,000 people historically over the years. Would you rather have been in the stadium years past, or are you guys happy with this wider open, taking a chance with the weather? Which one would you guys prefer?

For me, I actually ride good here, but I don’t know if I like it as much as I like racing in the Georgia Dome and stuff like that. I feel like that stadium in Atlanta and the supercross in Atlanta in the stadiums in the city are so nostalgic a little bit, with all the battling and stuff that has gone on inside there. I like this one, but I really liked racing in the stadium, too. All in all, if you keep the track normal, like Eli said, I think the racing is good here. And the fans were here, so it was pretty cool.

You seem like you’ve got the Kawasaki figured out, but is there stuff that you’re still learning about the bike this late in the season? Can you also talk about Broc Tickle’s influence on the bike with setup and also just his coaching?

For me, I rode a steel frame for eight years, so there are still some times where it catches me off guard. I think that’s a lot of my mistakes this year, even though I’ve been having success on it, I still feel like there’s some times where I don’t read the way it works. Obviously, we have Broc and I think the team has been working really well with being a little bit more open-minded and I think Broc is a good influence because he’s very smart. He’s awesome. The cool thing about training with him is he’s obviously one of my friends. We trained together with Aldon back in the day. So, we bounce ideas off of each other. It’s not like we’re doing anything crazy. Everyone does basically the same thing to get ready, but Broc understands it a little bit more just being in it. So, it’s cool having him on my side.

A rough couple of weeks there. Hadn’t had a win in a while. How satisfactory is it to keep on digging and then get this? It seemed also with the crowd right there that you were extra excited when you came across the finish.

Like I said, at any point right now, any win I’m damn excited to go out there and get a W. It feels good, especially after having a little bit of chaos go on. It just seems sometimes like you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and to break through and be able to get a win and ride well. It gives you that motivation to keep going. It’s tough whenever you keep getting beat down a little bit. Everyone in our sport understands that. It’s tough to keep going, but it’s just part of it. It’s the nature of the beast, but for some reason, as stressful as it is, we keep coming back for more. It’s pretty awesome.


Image: Octopi Media.

I spoke to you yesterday about this race and asked you a pretty specific question, who would you rather beat? Christian Craig, or Jett Lawrence. You beat them both and they’re both sitting here, so you have the chance to explain yourself, but you did choose your little sister.

Yeah I did, I said Jett, for sure. I mean, there’s not really much for me to say, I mean you kind of put me on the spot there, I don’t know if you want me to say suck it to the pair of them or what you want out of me [laughs].

Congratulations. What was it like for you? A lot of build up for this race. We do it. It’s fun for everybody, this East/West Showdown. You’re hearing about that for a month, a week, and then to be here to do it and get the win. What did it feel like when you crossed the finish line after just hearing that all week and the last few months knowing that this race was coming?

Yeah really good. I mean anytime you win is cool, so East/West is really good. I mean everyone is hearing about the East/West deal, who’s going to win, this and that… I feel like it is the same for any opening round or any race after some controversy or whatever. It’s not really anything new, where you have to change your approach and stuff, we just come here to race and yeah that is just what I did. Got a good start and went from there.

You’ve actually won two in a row, three this year. Are you starting to look back at Anaheim with the crash in the whoops and think how the title might be different? You’re really coming on strong here.

I think I can speak for everyone, there are so many things we’ve changed in the past to better us now, its part of it. It was in a kind of do or die position, and Christian was obviously really strong in the whoops and I was doing everything I could to stay with him and try to pressure him and keep that being right there. I think Vince was in third, and he was quite a ways back so the easy thing was obviously to settle for second, but you know I was fighting for a win, and yeah it sucked how it turned out, but it is what it is. Christian’s put the pieces in the puzzle really well this year, he’s a strong guy and his starts have been awesome, and at the moment he has got the red plate for a reason. I’m just trying to learn stuff like that and be the best version of myself.

On the combined East/West events, would you like to see more of these? Do you feel it maybe bridges the gap going from the 250 class to the 450? Or does it bring extra pressure because it’s all the top guys in one race?

Obviously, the 450 is the premier class. That’s why there’s two coasts, because they obviously want to leave something to the premier class, the premier championship. So, I think it’s good, having two shootouts is cool. If it will ever merge into just being a full 250 Supercross championship, I’m not sure, just due to the fact there’s kids, there’s families going to these races that can’t afford to do the full season of a 450 class where there’s a little more money and funding in the 450 class, I believe. So, I’m not sure. I’m not educated enough to really say.

There’s a huge age gap between you and Jett, like maybe the Stewart brothers, for instance, that didn’t really get to race each other. So, you guys have that opportunity, however Jett is quite a bit younger and seeing a level of success at a younger age. If you had to go back in time, would you take his success at an earlier age to be moved on with your career? Or would you not trade it for the moments and memories you’re having right now, stuff like this and getting to race on the same track together and be able to work together week in and week out, kind of chasing the same level of championship?

I didn’t know four years was a significant age gap, I wouldn’t say it’s a massive age gap. I couldn’t change my past what I did when I was his age, because if we change that then Jett wouldn’t have ever been here in America, and he wouldn’t have had the success he had. I was more or less the guinea pig. So, it’s actually more or less common sense that Jett would have a bit more success than me just because everything’s set in place, the road has been paved. We know what not to do, what works, what doesn’t, to an extent. So, that’s probably why. When I was 17, I was still podiuming in the MXGP MX2 class world championship. So, just a little more out of the spotlight obviously from the American spectators and viewers. I can’t really say I could change what I did, because it would either hinder one of us. If I said I wanted to be the younger one, then I would have more fame at a younger age than he did if he was paving the way. But, it is what it is. My family is good now. Everything we sacrificed, so we could care less about who had more fame at a younger age. We’re doing it together now and our family is in the best place we’ve ever been.

How have you been able to turn the page from a guy who… your body language on the bike, you seemed very new to supercross, obviously because you were, but now you’re winning races.

In 2020, it’s not even the same person that I am now, my body was so jacked up. 2021 was already way better, my body has been getting better and better health-wise. In the GPs, I was still so young, but I was still pretty good, then come to America, the whole Supercross thing was pretty new, I was super-young and just green to it all. I mean we have just been working hard dude, its no different to our whole career, its not a matter of if we can, its just a matter of when we can, because our work ethic is just second to none and the team we have around us now is unbelievable. We love every one of our guys that we work with, and its cool, just putting those pieces in the puzzle and I dunno, we are enjoying it, having fun and just believing in yourself, even more now. When you struggle with your health stuff, you are not fit, you are not strong, every time you hit the ground, even if it was a small crash, you break, you were fragile, so it’s… you just start to doubt everything, and now all of that is out the window. Its good, we are running now, where we were crawling at the start of Supercross you could say.