For some riders, success seems to come almost immediately. But that group is a select few. For others it takes patience, time, and a whole lot of training. Even still, many of those riders never even step on the top spot of the podium. For Muscle Milk/MDK/KTM’ Justin Brayton though, that day finally came last Saturday when he took advantage of his very last opportunity to prove himself as a solid outdoor rider, winning the final moto of the season at Steel City for second overall. We spoke with Justin recently to find out how everything went, and to pry into his plans for next year.
Take us through you weekend. How did every thing go for you?
The first moto didn’t go as planned, that’s for sure. I had an alright start and I think I was up to seventh at one point. I had some issues with the bike and I dropped back to eleventh. I’m lucky I even finished there but I was bummed because I felt like I had a top five in me that moto. The second moto, I went into it a little mad and knew that I wanted to go out with a bang, I just had to get a good start. It was a tough track to pass on so I just put a lot of emphasis on the start. I pulled an awesome holeshot and from that point on I just put my head down and rode my own laps. Just like at home in practice, I was putting in a consistent 30 minutes plus two laps.
This is your first big win as a professional. Has it sunk in yet or is your head still swimming?
(Laughs) Yeah its funny, my parents were actually there over the weekend and when we woke up on Sunday morning, I was still like, “Wow, I really won a race!” It’s crazy because I have always been more of a Supercross guy, but this year I put in a lot of hard work and really wanted to do well outdoors. I thought I would have won a Supercross before an Outdoor race but I will take it anyway I can get it. Its cool and I’m really excited and looking forward to my year coming up on the 450 for Supercross. It’s definitely a good way to go out. They say you’re only as good as your last race, so I think I’m doing pretty well right now (laughs).
Speaking of next year, do you have a deal lined up for next year? Can you talk about that?
I don’t have anything signed but I am working on getting a deal done soon. I should be able to talk about it in the next week or so.
This was your first year on the 450 outdoors and you definitely seemed more prepared this time around then in years past. How would you say your season went overall?
Heading into Glen Helen, I only had a couple weeks on the 450 because I rode the Lites in Supercross. I went into it just wanting to get some top tens, then by mid-season be in the top fives, and by the end be hitting the box. That’s pretty much what I did. I began fairly well with some top tens, right around eighth place or so. At Mt. Morris I got a seventh and then a couple races later I got a sixth, and at Washougal and Unadilla I got two fourth overalls. That was good and then after that I wanted to get on the podium. I think I was right on track. I didn’t want to set my goals to be too unrealistic. Like I said, last year I wasn’t much of an outdoor guy and I think maybe that’s because I was in the 250 class. I just ride a 450 bike better because of my size and riding style outdoors. I think I was right on track. I didn’t think I could necessarily get a win to be honest but I thought, for sure, I could get on the podium, so to win a moto was really cool. I was excited.
It was great to mix it up with those guys with it being my first year in the 450 Class, just trying to mix it up and do my best. That’s what racing is all about, week in and week out just trying to better and working harder to always improve.
When you say you are more of a Supercross guy, then you are more comfortable on those types of tracks? Is it then just a matter of approaching your racing differently from a mental and training stand point?
Just experience-wise, I began racing professionally in Arenacross and then that transferred into Supercross. One year I did Supercross and then didn’t have a deal to race outdoors. Another year I did Arenacross but then got hurt and couldn’t do outdoors. One year with Motoworld, I raced indoors and then had shoulder surgery during the summer, so I again didn’t do the Nationals. Last year with KTM was my first full year racing outdoors where I didn’t get hurt, so I finally got a full season of racing outdoors under my belt.
When I was growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money to go to a lot of the amateur nationals so I would just go to the local Arenacross events. So when I say I am more of a Supercross guy, I think it is just about experience-wise. I can ride outdoors but I just needed more experience and confidence. I think everything came together this year with the 450 Class and the bike and I stepped up. I faced the fact that I wasn’t that great of an outdoor guy, I knew I needed to work on it and that’s what I did. I set some realistic goals, raced hard, and learned from the guys I was racing against.
So you just never really raced normal motocross tracks growing up?
It was more when I turned pro. I would do a lot of the local money races and things like that, and those were usually at the local fairgrounds doing little Arenacross or Supercross type tracks. I did do Loretta’s a few years in a row, and Lake Whitney as well, but never very much. Then during the winter, which is about 5 months long in Iowa, with the snow I obviously couldn’t ride outdoors because of the snow, so we would race Arenacross.
That’s interesting because most people coming into the pro ranks have limited stadium experience and are coming from regular motoross tracks, so you definitely came into it from a different angle.
Yeah, I think I have proven to a lot of people that it is possible to come from Iowa, and Ryan Dungey has done the same coming from Minnesota, where it snow a lot that you can make it with a lot of hard work. The toughest part was the rough tracks outdoors. I have never really been a rider to hang it out and ride on the edge, I am more smooth and technical. In the 250s you almost do need to ride a little out of control, but in the 450 Class you can be more smooth and fluid so I think that really suits my style.