Justin Brayton of the JGR Yamaha team has been lost in the shuffle of superstars getting hurt and trying to man-handle each other, the rise of the kids and Monster Energy Kawasaki dominating both coasts. The kid from Iowa finished a career-high fourth this past weekend in Indianapolis and sits sixth in the points almost halfway through. I feel like not enough has been said about JB23 and his riding. I suppose that Justin's used to that by now, it's been a reoccurring theme in his young pro career.
Justin, how did the weekend at Indy go for you?
The whole weekend went well for me really, I had a couple of good practices, got a great start in my heat race and got to see what those guys were doing. Usually my starts have been so bad that I have lost touch with the leaders. I think that was the key, just better starts. And with that I got a fourth which was my career best and hopefully from here, I'll just better and better.
I feel like you don't get enough press for your season although there has been a ton of other stuff that's happened. Do you feel like that also?
Yeah kind of. I've been doing well quietly and I think that's been because I've been in races by myself. I've had a few races where I'm just riding around out there with no one around me. Whether that's in sixth, fourth or whatever. I don't feel like I'm off the top guys much at all, I just haven't been able to start with them and when you're half a second off, they're going to pull you. It's tough to ride and push yourself when you're alone on the track. I've ridden with them before and I know I can do it again. I'm looking forward to this weekend's race in Atlanta as it's the JGR team's home race and hopefully I can put it on the podium.
So what are you missing from your repertoire?
Yeah, definitely starts I think. I had a great start this weekend but Grant Langston got by me right away on the first lap and we lost contact with Ryan Dungey who was in fourth. Once I got by GL, I ran the same pace as the front guys for half the race and I was by myself. If I can just get up with those guys, I can run with them.
And this weekend, Millsaps went down and, although it helped you out, you were catching him for fourth. Were you marking him off?
Yeah I could see him and I could see that I was going to get him. Even if he had not crashed, I think I would've gotten him. Although that did help a lot. It was right around half-way when he fell and who's to say for sure if I would've passed him but I like to think I would've.
What did you think about the track this weekend? Everyone I spoke to wasn't a big fan…
It was weird for sure. They had one set of whoops with no run. I'm ready to get back to old-school supercross. I didn't race it but I certainly watched it. Like in the early 2000's or late 90's, those had big whoops, big rhythm sections and no sand. I don't know where this love of the sand comes from but we need to get back to the old-school stuff where some guys can't jump some stuff, can't go fast through the whoops and allows passing opportunities for the faster riders. There was one whoop section this weekend that grooved up pretty bad and made it really hard to pass.
This weekend in Atlanta, the track map looks pretty good and although it's hard to tell until you get there and walk it, I think it should be better.
You're sixth in points, nine out of fourth but a little bit up to third. So have you looked at that and thought about where you could finish?
Yeah I saw that, we're not at halfway yet. I haven't had any great races yet, I've had some decent finishes but I think I'm due for some great races here in the second half. I need to start clicking off some podiums and if I do that, I don't think that a top three is out of reach for me. Once James and Chad come back, they'll be in the mix and getting the points all mixed up. So that's good for me and I'm looking forward to making the podium and riding the way that I know I can ride. Being my rookie year, I've been doing well. I think people don't realize that it is my rookie year but with the team I'm on, they've won races before and expect that kind of performance from me.
So to set the record straight, before this season, how many 450 supercross races had you done?
I've done a total of four. I did two a couple years ago and two last year.
How's it been riding for JGR Yamaha?
I love riding for them, the teams been amazing and I love my bike. The guys never settle and that's the way I've been in my career. If you look back four years now, I've just gotten better and better. If I start winning, they're not going to settle for that. They're always pushing forward and trying to get better. I feel like we have a bright future ahead of us and it's going to be good.
How have the veteran 450 guys accepted you in the class? Has there been any battles or anything like that?
I don't know, I guess they've accepted it well. You'd have to ask them I guess. All those guys are cool, I feel like I'm one of them. I expect to beat them for sure, they are all on the same level as me. Kevin Windham is one of my idols growing up and it's cool to be there on the line with him.
Do you sign up on-line and battle Coy Gibbs in Halo? And if so, do you let him shoot you because he signs the checks?
(Laughs) No, not yet. There are always some Reflex battles going on in the truck though. I haven't raced him yet. I just stay away.