Cooper Webb | The Best Worst Night

Cooper Webb
In spite of suffering a horrific crash during the afternoon qualifying session, Cooper Webb rebounded to earn the win in the Western Regional 250 Supercross main at San Diego and further extend his series points lead.

Cooper Webb | The Best Worst Night

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By Donn Maeda | Photos by Ryne Swanberg

Entering the San Diego Supercross, Cooper Webb was in a good spot. With a solid lead in the Western Regional 250 Supercross Championship and an eight-week break in the series approaching, the Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha rider was looking forward to putting Supercross on hold and getting started on is preparation for this summer’s 250 Nationals. Things went sideways during the afternoon’s first timed qualifying session, though, as Webb came up short on a tricky jump and was pummeled into the ground. Back in the pits, Webb was checked out by the Asterisk Medics and attended to by Dr. H. Rey Gubernick – better known in the pits as Doc G – all in hopes of salvaging some points. Initially, Webb’s team feared that he had suffered a fractured shoulder blade. Doc G taped Webb’s shoulder in hopes that it would allow him to circulate the track in order to reduce the damage to his championship lead. 

As it turned out, Webb rode conservatively in his heat race and felt better as the race wore on. In the main, Webb rode an incredible race and when the checkered flag flew, the quiet kid from North Carolina earned an unbelievable win and added even more cushion to his series points lead. We caught up with Cooper on Monday, shortly after he returned from a quick trip home to visit family and teach some motocross schools…

How was your trip to North Carolina?

I actually just flew back to California yesterday. I was back home in North Carolina from Sunday to Tuesday and then Tuesday night I went to South of the Border training facility and did a three-day ride school with about 25 riders, my dad and Taylor Futrell. It was really fun and I had planned to do that even before Supercross. It's something that I have never really done before but it was cool to give back to these kids and see how much of a progression they made from the first day to the third day. After that I went back home to North Carolina and hung out with some buddies, spent Valentine’s Day with my parents and flew back to California yesterday to start some rehab and to start training again.

Was there a section in the riding school on how to be a badass and win a race with a busted-up shoulder?

[Laughs] No we didn't have one on that, they were just mini kids. It was cool though…there were kids that are going to race the upcoming nationals that were riding really well and there were also some kids that were just starting to get on to a 65 and were learning the clutch. We had a good group and with all of us helping it was really cool.

This is the crash that could have ended Webb's championship hopes.
This is the crash that could have ended Webb’s championship hopes.

Talk about the San Diego race, it was a pretty crazy day filled with radical highs and lows of emotion…

Yeah, San Diego was crazy. The first practice I was in first, and I had a pretty big gap on the second place guy. I went back to do one more heater and looking back at it I was already first in practice, but being a racer you always want to improve and be the best that you can, and I felt that I hadn't put in my best lap yet. Unfortunately, I hit that triple and it sent me over the bars pretty good and my shoulder and upper body really had an impact from it. I sat out the second practice, I wasn't sure what was wrong with my shoulder but I had Doc G there and Gareth Swanepoel to really make sure I could even race and they really helped. Then I went out for the heat race just to kind of see if I could ride, they told me that it was going to hurt regardless, so I just went for it and did the main and I got the win. I just dug really deep and set myself up nicely to win the championship.

When you crashed and hit the ground that hard, what was the first thing that went through your head?

I didn't see the championship slip away but I knew it was going to be a lot harder to try and maintain the position I was in, I had a pretty big points lead and we thought of all the options and we figured if Jessy had won I would had to have gotten 12th to keep the red plate and then we even considered if I didn't race, then I would have only been about 6 points down if Jessy had won, with two rounds to go. Luckily I had Doc G there to get me back and be able to race. I was going to race regardless, I didn't care how bad it was. I knew even if it was bad, I could at least get into the main. That's just how racing is; you can be on top of the world one weekend and down in the dirt the next, but this is what we train for and we try and put our self into the best situations so that if something like that does happen we will be ready to go.

Doc G
Dr. H. Rey Gubernick – better known as Doc G – was instrumental in getting Cooper back on the track after his big practice crash.

It looked like you were in a lot of pain during the heat race…did you think that you could win the main or were you thinking you'd just have to roll around?

No, during the first two laps of the heat I was just making sure I could even do the jumps without it hurting. But honestly, the way the track was; if you were aggressive and put in a lot of energy you could make up a lot of time. It's not like there was a certain section that people were doing differently, it was pretty much all the intensity you could put in and that's when I knew that I would probably struggle a little bit. But that's what I really focused on. I got a good start in the main and I let Bowers by, and just tried to keep myself at a pace that was fast enough to get at least a top five. Once I got half way and my shoulder was used to the pain, I just put my head down and fought through it.

What is the prognosis?

It is a slight AC separation and some bone bruising in my shoulder. Luckily there wasn't anything broken and it actually worked out all right.

Now that you have an eight-week break, other than therapy what are you going to do with your time before you start riding again?

Really just work with Doc G and Gareth Swanepoel and start doing the little bit of training that we can and do some shoulder rehab and then probably start riding in the next two weeks or so, and then just go from there. Probably start riding some outdoors and then probably get back to Supercross a little bit sooner than last year. This year we're in it for the championship so we need to stay up on that, obviously we need to go for the outdoor title as well but for now just continue to ride and we'll be ready to go.

Webb
Webb let his rival Tyler Bowers by early in the main, but as he became tolerant of the pain in his shoulder, he picked up the pace and went on to win.

The saying about winning your championships on your bad nights, certainly holds true for you…

You want to think that was my bad night but in this sport you never know, but that's definitely what they say and hopefully it stays true for me.

What did you think of the way the 250s turned out in Dallas?

I think it was a great night of racing for sure. I saw Marvin Musquin riding before Dallas and I thought he looked really good and I knew Justin Bogle would do really well too, but I didn't really know about the other guys who hadn't raced before or were on their second season. I was really interested in how the top 10 would go, and I think the results are going to be different every weekend. I think it's going to be some exciting racing for sure. I train with Matt Lemoine and it was cool to see him get fifth; he set himself up nicely for a podium but the restart got him but it'll be exciting for sure and the shoot out will be cool.

Cooper Webb wins
San Diego was certainly Webb’s toughest win, and he describes it as the worst night of his run to the championship.