Albuquerque, New Mexico racer Jason Anderson of the Monster Energy Kawasaki racing outfit powered to another 450SX main event win on Saturday night inside the home of the Angels in Anaheim, Calif. After his second win in what has been an ultra-competitive Monster Energy Supercross Championship through the first six rounds, Anderson finds himself and his works KX450F second, a few points adrift of Eli Tomac, in the battle for the world’s most prestigious motocross championship.
With the series’ West Coast swing complete, we checked in with Anderson before he and his fellow supercross riders head across the country to Minneapolis next weekend.
Q: Jason, how would you describe the main event you put together to claim your second win of the season at Angel Stadium?
JASON ANDERSON: 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, and especially with Eli [Tomac] behind me. 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.
Q: How was the circuit? The gnarly whoops on their own seemed wickedly ominous every lap. Just the dirt was pretty brutal, it looked like.
JA: 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. Getting the start was crucial for me, because I didn’t want to go through the whoops in the middle of the pack — 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. It was steep, too. I think this was the steepest rhythms and everything that we’ve had so far this year.
Q: You celebrated a lot on that last lap. You certainly seemed extremely happy ton win here tonight. Thoughts?
JA: 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, 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 [Anderson, Tomac, Justin Barcia on the podium] 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 27.
Q: You led all 22 laps 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?
JA: 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. That’s a tough thing to do. It’s kind of mental. 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.
Q: Just how critical do you believe it will be to slow down and dampen the momentum that Eli had coming into this round? Obviously you have now climbed up to second place in the points race, so that puts you in a very good position.
JA: Yeah. Momentum is key in everything we do in this sport. That’s part of the game. 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. It’s going to be tougher some nights than others. 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.
Q: 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 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.
JA: Yeah. 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. 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. I’m just trying my best. That’s all I can do every day. Put my best foot forward and keep chugging along.
Q: What was your take on the sand section at Angel Stadium? 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?
JA: 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. 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.