Features 22 Apr 2024

Debrief: 2024 Supercross Rd14 Nashville

Main event winners Lawrence and Hampshire recall 14th round.

Jett Lawrence stopped the bleeding from the past few rounds with a big win in Nashville to jump back ahead in the title fight by five points over Cooper Webb. The 250SX class saw RJ Hampshire take a commanding victory and grabbed the red plate back in 250SX West with it. Both riders spoke with the media following the race in this Debrief feature.


Image: Octopi Media.

Jett, the whole day you were looking good, feeling good out there, and it was a hard track. You were able to pull it off, get that great start, you were able to track down Eli Tomac and eventually get past. Can you take us through that and what was going on in your head?

Ever since like the first session, I felt like I had a pretty good flow with the track. Obviously, this dirt I would have liked to have a bit more tack, but the bike has been handling great in that. I’ve been feeling good the past few weekends, I just haven’t been putting it together and I haven’t been putting myself in good positions. In the main, I got a good start. Kenny [Roczen] was up there after passing me and it was a bummer to see him go down with that bike issue. I didn’t even see it. There was that much smoke coming off his bike. Those are never good ones to see. I just tried staying as consistent as I possibly could with this track because you couldn’t really force the issue too much on this dirt because it could catch you. I ended up kind of bit by bit just closing in on Eli, I think he also had a few bad run ins with lappers, and I was able to capitalize in the sand with some yellow flags with some riders down on the outside. I was able to get going and keep that flow going. I felt good all day and it was good to get those good laps in the main.

You were going sometimes a second and a half a lap faster than these guys coming through the pack. Was there something you were doing that was different? You closed the gap fast and once you got out front you set the pace quickly.

I don’t think so. I think with this time of traction, getting a smooth lap and linking all the sections together makes a big difference just because, if you push the front a little bit and then try stabbing the gas, you can lose the rear a bit and you lose so much time. I think I just ended up getting in a pretty good flow and kept a good rhythm, hit my marks, and felt good all main.

There’s an old saying in NASCAR that you, “Drive until you see Jesus and then turn left.” It sure seemed like that’s what you were doing in the sand section in the first couple of laps. Once you got to the lead, did you riding style change a little bit?

The first few laps are always kind of hectic in the sand section because there’s not really a certain line. It kind of was with that outside-outside, but then you obviously don’t want to follow because it’s impossible to follow through there because the roost goes straight to your eyes and kind of blocks you. So, you try to take different lines and your rear could go, your front could go, and we had a few hectic moments for a couple of laps, but we were able to get a rhythm through it and keep hitting that mark.

Those opening laps for you were very explosive. Was that a sense for you knowing last week that you’ve got to be at the front of this pack really quickly? Was that important to you learning from last week?

Yeah, those opening laps, getting a good start helps. Last weekend, me starting 14th or 15th doesn’t really help when the guy you’re competing against holeshots or is in the top five. It was sketchy for sure. Was lucky to save some of those oopsies, but it was more so just getting that start and being up there and being able to see those guys was a big plus for me.


Image: Octopi Media.

RJ, you had a little bit of a break there. From the get-go today, from qualifying through heat races and into the main event, you were just locked in. You mentioned on the podium the break and how that helped you. Can you talk about what you did in the break?

It wasn’t really like I changed anything; I just didn’t take any time off. That six week break after I won Glendale and that six weeks of really not racing on the weekend, I struggled with that. I almost took it too easy, lost my intensity, and it showed. I had two crashes that were pretty big. They weren’t just tip overs. So, I had those two big crashes in the six weeks, and I showed up to Seattle thinking I’m going to be right back to where I was in Glendale, and I wasn’t. Levi smoked me there and I showed up to St. Louis trying to get it back on track and got beat bad again there. So, I was like, “I’ve got to change something. I need to be more present and have my intensity back,” show up here and do exactly what I did tonight. Let whatever happens behind me play out and it just so happens that it was in my cards tonight.

Were you aware that Levi crashed on the first lap and were you thinking about the implication on the points?

Yeah, definitely. I honestly thought it was Cameron at first because coming out of the sand, he was hitting the finish coming into that right hand turn. I 100% knew it was a PC bike. I just figured it was Cam. I checked the board probably on lap three or four and I didn’t see him in the top five. I’d say probably six or seven laps in, I noticed the two PC boys were together and yeah it was a huge relief. A really good night could turn into an awesome night. So yeah, I knew he was back there. I didn’t know where he got up to. But just stoked to have a night play into my hands.

Can you just reflect on how amazing it is to have flipped the points lead as dramatically as you did?

This is huge for Austria and our whole brand and our whole company. I don’t think we’ve had the points lead in both coasts in a while. It just goes to show how much work we’ve put in and I definitely didn’t think tonight that I’d have the points lead. I just wanted to close in. But it happened to play into my hands like I said.

You’ve been known to make mistakes in the past. When you got into the lead and noticed the chaos behind you, what was your mindset in that moment and how did you avoid the mistakes that have seemed to bite you in the past?

I don’t know, I just kind of rode my own race. I rode by myself and clicked them off. I feel like I’m a different rider than what I was a few years ago. I don’t feel like I’ve changed much in the past couple of years. I feel like I’ve been in the same situation that I’m in now. I just was racing a dude that went straight to the 450 class and won right away. He was better and it just so happens this year that he’s gone, and I feel like I’m kind of in the same spot.

This was the first East/West Showdown of the season. Can you just talk about going into these things that it can either go really well or really bad, so how do you mentally prepare for that? Is it any different than just a normal race?

For me, it didn’t matter. I needed to win no matter what. I knew I had to win no matter what, and whatever plays out behind me plays out. It just so happens that Levi had his second time off the podium, but his first kind of bad weekend. I executed my night exactly how I needed to.

You have a two-point lead with two rounds to go, how are you going to attack that as the season winds down?

It’s just kind of the same thing. It’s only two points so it’s not like it’s much. I still need to win. I need to head into Denver and carry this same kind of confidence I had today and know I can be the guy. I felt like I lost that a little bit with that long break. Just to give myself a chance on the weekends and focus on my starts like I did tonight and execute the night.