By Michael Antonovich
After two rounds, it is difficult to say where Kyle Cunningham would be if it weren’t for his Dallas crash. The Star/Valli/Rockstar/Yamaha rider pulled out of the main event after an opening lap crash which injured the Texas native’s wrist. After a week of intense therapy with Doctor G, Cunningham notched a seventh place finish in Atlanta and scored fourteen much needed points. We caught up with Cunningham to see how he has coped with his injury and how it will affect the rest of his season.
Now that you are two races in to the season, how do you feel it has gone thus far?
I didn’t start off the greatest by getting in a first turn crash at Dallas and injuring my wrist, but we are still in it. I can’t stay healthy, but last weekend I tried to do what I could to put in some good laps to get in to the main so I could do what I had to do. We had a little mistake on lap eight and I put it on the ground, but I was riding pretty good before that. My wrist was hurting all day and the second lap of the first practice I over jumped the triple and blew my hand off the bars. To be there last weekend and to be able to race was really good. Obviously I want to be fighting for better results but when I went in to Doctor G’s last week, we didn’t even know if I would be racing. But he worked on me all week and I spent three days there, and I went from not having any range of motion in my wrist to being able to move it. When Thursday rolled around, we made the decision that I was going to try and race on the weekend and I got about four minutes of riding in on Thursday. I did some starts and was sore so I didn’t want to put any laps in. It was the same routine this week: spent Monday and Tuesday at Doctor G’s, then spent Tuesday afternoon with my trainer Mark and was able to do a little bit of riding on Wednesday, just some sprints and starts. We are just trying to get the wrist better and doing what we need to do so that I am there and able to race on the weekend.
Have you done any x-rays or MRIs to see if the wrist has any damage, or is it just swollen and painful?
Actually, I had an x-ray in the Asterisk rig and he’s looked at it, but I haven’t had an MRI or x-ray on the wrist again. It’s basically just him working on it with what he has there to get the range of motion back and it’s gotten better. To stay healthy for the first four months before the East Coast and to get to the first round and keep the bike on two wheels and then get injured there was a bummer. But as long as we can get my wrist moving and I keep doing what I am doing with him and my trainer, we will be there. That is the most important thing for me. I had a little mistake last weekend with the slide out after the finish line but up until that I felt like I was riding pretty good for having no seat time on the bike.
How does this injury affect your preseason expectations? Is it more about survival now and taking it race by race or do you still have the same goals?
In the past years I have had injuries but as long as I can get out there and do what I need to do and feel that I can still run the speed, we are going to be there. And that is the thing for me, because last week there was a little bit of a ball up during the week when I was trying to get my wrist to move so that I felt like I could ride, and Monday I wasn’t sure if I was going to race. If my wrist had felt the same way on Thursday, there is no way that I would have been out there. I don’t look at as survival, because I wanted to be in the hunt for the championship right off the bat, and we are not there right now but that’s not to say that we won’t be in the end. For me it is about results and doing what I need to do, because yeah, my wrist hurts but thanks to Doctor G and Jeff Brewer at All Sport Dynamics who got me a brace, I’ll be out there on the weekends racing. I want to be up front whether or not if I am hurt, and that is what I am shooting for.
What do you think about the East Coast this year? Justin Barcia has won both rounds, but with you and the other riders on the line, is it one of the most stacked fields that you have competed against or does it feel the same as every other year?
I have ridden the West Coast in the past and I rode the East Coast in 2010, which was a crazy year. It was tough then, too, with Pourcel and Barcia was in there as well. There are always a lot of good guys on both coasts, so we just need to make sure that I am prepared. I felt good in practice last weekend and I took it easy and was maybe a bit more cautious than the weekend before and put in a smooth, consistent heat race. I felt like I should have saved as much as I could for the main and I ended up with a seventh, which I can frown on. To not know if I would race in the week, crash in the main, and end up seventh wasn’t horrible for me. I’m sticking with Doctor G, my trainer, my Dad and my family, and Sean Hamblin, who have been helping me. We are coming in to St. Louis with more seat time and have our sights set on the podium while I try to get that race win.
Will you be based in Southern California for the entire Supercross season or will you go back to Texas as you race the East Coast?
I have been in California for now and I hopefully go back to Texas this summer to do training and maybe head to Florida during the outdoors. When I hurt my wrist in Dallas, I stayed home until Tuesday and spent some time with my Mom, which was nice. I am out here for now, but when summer comes we will play it by ear.
The team has had a few changes in the off season; it’s essentially the same team as you were on last year with it being Star Racing, but now morphed with Valli and Pro Circuit is helping with the motors. How are the bikes this year compared to what you raced last year?
The bike was good last year and the team didn’t change so much for us as far as the Lites side of it; we still have Brad in there working on the motors with the Cosworth stuff. The bike is good and it is by far the best Lites bike that I have ridden. Rockstar stepped up for the team and we have a solid program over there. Bobby (Regan) and Chad (Lanza) and everyone there has done a great job at putting together the solid team that we have.