INTERVIEW: Christian Craig

INTERVIEW: Christian Craig

Bikes

INTERVIEW: Christian Craig

By

Monster Energy/Yamaha Star Racing racer Christian Craig addressing the Monster Energy Supercross Series press an hour after clinching the 2022 250SX West Region Supercross title:

“It doesn’t feel real,” said a rider who needed 13 years to win his first AMA Pro Racing championship. “I can tell you that. It feels like a dream for some reason. This all seemed impossible just two years ago. It all seemed so far away and unreachable. I saw so many of my teammates accomplish this. I went through it with Chase Sexton, Colt Nichols, and Justin Cooper. So many people were like, ‘Your time is coming.’ I kept digging. I kept grinding. Yeah, I’m older in the class and what-not, but I’m here now. I’m thankful to be in this position. It’s a dream come true.”

Craig is currently fifth in the fight for the 2022 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, with only Sexton, Eli Tomac, Jason Anderson and Ken Roczen ahead of him. Now with four Nationals and eight motos left to be run this summer, Craig is dreaming of ways to make a run at the top three in the points table. And if that’s not enough to try and accomplish, the Californian is also being considered for the 250cc team position for Team USA and the 2022 Motocross of Nations set for RedBud on September 25.

Q: You doing well during this short break in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship?

CHRISTIAN CRAIG: Yeah, yeah, it has been busy with the racing, but we’ve got a little break here, so it has been pretty nice. I’m doing a lot of chilling, but I’m also going to ride the 250F to see if we can make it work for the Motocross des Nations. I’ve been asked by the AMA if I wanted to do the race, so I’m going to ride the 250 see what I think and to give them a call. I think it’s up to me and I’m going to love the bike and I’ll be just fine. I hope I can get that spot, and that would be something special, for sure. It’s crazy and I know how fast all of this can switch, you know? It’s all about just living in the moment. Like, don’t take it all for granted and appreciate the accomplishments I’ve had this year, but also be present and be aware and know I’ve been on the other side of this, too. I just want to be smart and to keep doing what I’m doing and it seems to be working. I just want to keep doing it.

Q: Your very first AMA race was at Unadilla on August 15, 2009. That was 13 years ago. You’ve earned your way to this somewhat new fortune and the fame the hard way…

CC: Yeah, this year has probably been my best so far and I’m at age 30, which is pretty crazy. I’ve taken the long road, unfortunately, but it has made me enjoy the wins that I do get as well as the accomplishments a lot more than I would if I was younger. I’m having fun. I love it. I don’t see an end any time soon. I’m enjoying the training off the bike, just everything about it I love so much. I’m far from burnt-out and, man, I feel like I still have room to grow with speed and all of that. We’ll see. I have also accomplished one of my longtime goals, and that was getting on the podium and doing it in the 450 class. We did that at the first round, which was cool. That was my home race and I was really happy about that.

From there I backed it up with a 5-5 at Hangtown. I had a couple of off races there in the middle, but all in all, it has been super-consistent and that’s been my goal for the year. My goal has been to be consistent, be there every race and battle. I feel like I’m the third, fourth, fifth place guy consistently. Those top two guys in the class are pretty much separated from the rest of the pack right now, but there’s no reason I can’t be a third place guy every weekend, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do.

Q: On the 450, you’re right there with Tomac, Sexton, Anderson, Dungey and Cairoli…

CC: Yeah, and I’ve battled with all of them before, so now that I’m doing it consistently, I feel like I’m getting more comfortable with it and I’m starting to expect to beat a lot of these guys. I’m confident that I can beat them. When I’m behind them or I’m battling with them, my confidence goes up and it is cool. I’ve been battling with Ryan Dungey quite a bit at these last couple of races, and it’s just like, “Wow! I’m battling with a legend.” Man, it’s been fun. I’ve just been having a blast and just trying to get better each weekend.

Q: And you have to feel like you belong up there.

CC: Yeah, I would say that last year I kind of made that step mentally after getting some good finishes. And then this year, starting off with that third place finish in outdoors at Pala. Also, coming off of that 250 title, I would say that my confidence is at all-time high. I’m happy and I’m having fun on the bike and I think that translates to good results. As long as I can keep doing that, I’ll keep pumping out these good results.

Q: Will you ever circle back and line up anywhere on the 250?

CC: No, I’m officially done with that 250. I got that long-awaited title and we’ve moved on. Better late than never. Unfortunately, I’m 30 years old and going 450 full-time, but I’ve accomplished a lot on the 250. We’ve got more to go. I’m in the premier class now and we’ll see what we can do. I have a great team. Obviously, they know how to win. I’ve also got some great teammates who are some past champions. I’m in good hands. I’m learning a lot and just growing each weekend and trying to get better. I want to take that next step. I want to try to improve, and I do feel like I have some stuff I can try to get better with. Other than that, I have every tool in front of me right now to try and accomplish those goals.

Q: How are you going to approach the last four Nationals and eight motos yet to be run?

CC: Before the season started, I wrote down that I wanted to be in the top five in points at the end of the year. I’m fifth in points right now, but there are eight motos left, so a lot of racing left. If I can keep being consistent like I have been in these last eight races and squeak out some podiums here and there, maybe I can even get up to fourth in points. Other than that, I’m not looking too far ahead. I’m just trying to take it race by race. We have Unadilla in a couple of weeks, so I’ll just try to work hard for that.

Q: There has been a buzz about you moving on to a 450cc-based team for the 2023 racing season. Can you talk about that?

CC: Yeah, so I have signed with a team. I don’t want to say which team. I want to be respectful to the team I’m now on. I am signed, though, and it will be 450 full-time. It’s something that I’ve worked towards for a long time. One of my goals is to be a premier 450 guy and luckily I’ve earned that, so I’m in good hands. I’m going to have tools to try and get some supercross wins in the 450 class and maybe more. We’ll see in the future. The team that I’m going to be on is believing in me, so I just need to put in more work. It’s not going to be easy, but I want to take that next step and try to be up front, so that’s the plan. There’s no reason why I can’t try to achieve more in my 30s. I feel like I have more to grow and to get better. You’ve seen that with Eli Tomac winning a championship at 29. There’s no reason I can’t be there. We’ll see. Maye I can be the oldest supercross champion one day.

MX-5 CUP | ROUND 9 – ROAD AMERICA

More RACER