CATCHING UP WITH JASON LAWRENCE
By Donn Maeda
If there’s one thing that’s for certain on the World Wide Web, it’s that Jason Lawrence draws a lot of attention. Love him or hate him, J-Law is a “click” magnet, so we thought we’d fill you in on what’s been going on with the Boost Mobile/ampm/Monster Energy-backed rider. From the nonsense that surrounds him to his DNS in Toronto, we covered it all…well, most of it, at least.
Every time we post anything that has to do with you, the Internet explodes with feedback both for and against you. Let’s give them something to talk about…
Yeah! (Laughs) Let’s keep it going!
Ok. So how has the transition been from the 250 to the 450?
It’s been easy. I thought the competition would have been closer, no disrespect to anyone, but it looks spaced out after James and Chad. It seems like the class has close racing and everyone is close in speed, but starts are more important here than in the 250 class. After James and Chad, third place is up for grabs.
What’s the biggest difference between the two? It seems like the 450 class has more privateers doing well than the 250 class. Is that because you can get more performance from a production 450 for less cash than a 250?
I think that’s it, exactly. I know we don’t have too much money in our 450 bikes development-wise, but our bikes are really competitive. They just stand a better chance with the bigger guys and that’s one thing that makes the class cooler. I mean, our YZ250F is the best bike out there, but the amount of money that is invested into it is ridiculous. My 450 is modified, but not like that.
Was it intimidating sitting on the line at Daytona in your first 450 race after years in the Lites class?
Oh yeah for sure. It felt like going pro all over again because I was, like, stepping up to the next level. It was fun and I kinda thrive off that, but in the moment right before that gate dropped, it was kinda scary. But I’m over that now from being up front, and now when I’m on the line I know I can get the holeshot and do well in the 450 class.
At Daytona, it was obvious after Chad got by, that you mellowed out and settled for second place. But during all those laps that you lead, did you ever feel like you had the chance to win?
It’s weird; I never really believed 100 percent that I was going to win the race during the race. Looking back at the situation, it’s “how could I have not won that?” But at the moment, I was thinking, “How is this happening in my first race?” A lot of it was how the cards fell, but that’s racing. A lot of what happened with me was just me being tired and mentally strained from leading, and that was tough. I made a few big mistakes which could have cost me the race or even my life (laughs), but after halfway I just decided to turn it down. I didn’t even see Chad coming at me until like a lap before he got by, so he wasn’t really pressuring me. I just knew everyone was coming and I didn’t want to keep pushing.
Is that the most tired you’ve ever been?
No, training with Ryno (Ryan Hughes) pushes you until complete muscle failure! (Laughs) So it wasn’t too bad. It’s weird when I came over the finish line, though. It was like, “BOOM! Energy boost!” I was so pumped! So I think I’m going to have my mechanic wave a checkered flag in the pit area every lap the next time I am leading (laughs).
Let’s talk about the start. You obviously cut to the inside of the track to avoid the pileup. Though the AMA didn’t penalize you, there were plenty of Internet bandits that tore you apart on the message boards. Let’s address that topic…
Yeah, that’s a funny topic and there is some more to it from my side. I was right next to Josh Hill on the starting line and we had a plan to go tight around the inside and then come out as two of the top-five guys. And I told him, “I’m not going to just come right in and smash you!” We are such good friends that he’s almost like a brother to me. He hit James and fell right in front of me, and I’m not going to hit my friends, so I’d have rather cut that little bit and gotten in trouble than to maybe just hit someone’s pinky toe. I’m not trying to hurt my friends or anyone else, and I’d have taken the consequence for being safe.
You had a rough day here in Toronto. You posted quick time in the first session until Reed topped it later on, but that was after you got busted in the face with a rock…
You know when you get hit in the mouth and have that numb feeling? I thought I knocked out my two front teeth, I couldn’t even feel them with my tongue. I’m riding away thinking, “this is so shitty, what am I gonna do?” We went to the pit, and my teeth are fine and my lips aren’t even cut or swollen, so we walked back out to watch and Reed still hadn’t topped it. But I posted my fast time right after they groomed the track, and Bubba didn’t do his until later on when the track got vicious. Still, that was pretty cool.
In practice two, you did only a handful of laps…
I was out there following Nick and we went over the finish and down the straight, and I ducked to stay out of his roost, but I got blasted with a big rock to the hand. So I went into the Asterisk Mobile Medic Unit, thinking it’s broken and they told me it wasn’t, so I went out to race. It was hard to make a fist but I got up to sixth, but there was no way I was going to do 20 laps in the main when the heat was an issue. I couldn’t even pull in the clutch.
On track walk today, people were pulling debris out of the dirt…
Yeah! Alessi took what had to be an 18-inch long piece of metal out!
I even took a full sized brick out of it…
Oh yeah I know. Down there on the starting line, Nate Dawg (Nathan Ramsey) was asking the AMA guys to move pieces of slate away from his gate. This dirt is crazy; they need to send it back to wherever they got it.
What’s the plan for rest of the Supercross season? You have Seattle in a few weeks, so will you drop back down and run the East-West Shoot out to make a point?
I’m hitting Jacksonville for the 450, but yeah, I’m dropping down to finish the West Coast. My sponsors like the red and white number one, so I’ll run it a few more times to make them happy. After that who knows, maybe I’ll get another or be 338 for the rest of my life.
And then there’s always the East vs. West Shootout in Las Vegas. Historically, neither champion wins that one. Maybe that’s where you will pull it all together…
But I’m gonna need to tone it down to grab that. (Laughs)
What about outdoors? What are you riding and what goals are you setting?
I will be on a 450 for sure. I heard Reed and Stewart are part time at most, so that leaves the door open for Villopoto and Alessi. I know after them it’s a ton of guys, but I see top three. I am looking forward to racing the Nationals because that is where I am strongest, and who knows, anything can happen…