Photos by Jeff Kardas
The tension in the 2014 Monster Energy Supercross Series 250 West Coast Regional Championship is at an unprecedented level. As the season heads into Las Vegas, two racers have a clear shot at nabbing the first titles of their professional careers: Rockstar Energy Racing KTM’s Jason Anderson and Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda’s Cole Seely. An eventful night in Seattle, which saw Anderson make a handful of mistakes before rallying to a third place finish and Seely take the win, brought the gap in the standings to just eight points and sets the stage for what is sure to be a winner takes all scenario.
Despite a title on the line and an incredible amount of time off to think about the situation, Anderson does not appear fazed. He has avoided increasing the intensity of his Supercross training program and instead switched the weekly work to perfecting a setup for the upcoming Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship that he is now a favorite to win. During a recent day at Milestone MX Park, we shared a few minutes with the blossoming young rider and learned more about his outlook on the season.
After Seattle, you were faced with another long break before the last race against Cole Seely for the 250 West Coast Championship. What do you take away from Seattle?
Seattle was really good and I still walked away with the points lead, even though I made a couple mistakes. I think it was the track, because if you pushed too hard it would bite you, and it got me a couple of times. Cole rode a strong race and ended up the win, which keeps the points race tight and is good for the fans. I'm excited to go to Vegas with a shot to win the championship, because it will be my first time.
Does a weekend like that, with a few mistakes, put more pressure on you?
No, because I crashed two times and went off the track once and still ended up second. All I have to do is get fourth in Vegas, so I'm thinking my odds are pretty good.
The schedule this year for the 250 West Coast has a lot of downtime, as you went six weeks straight, then took roughly two months off, came back for two weeks, and are then off for another two before the final round in Las Vegas. In that time, do you sit and think about the championship or do you block it out and focus on what you have to do?
It's racing at the end of the day and if you focus on yourself, you'll be dialed. I try to use the extra time and get prepared so that I'm ready for when the races come.
At what point in the break did you begin outdoor testing?
The Monday after San Diego I rode outdoors. I rode from then until two weeks before Houston and then rode Supercross for two weeks before the next race.
When you got on the bike last Fall after having a small surgery, you spent the first days riding the bikes on an outdoor style track. Has the bike undergone a big improvement for the Nationals since the initial shakedown?
I would say there is a lot of improvement with the bike, for sure. That's not to say the bike was bad when I got on it, because it was great then, but there have been little things tuned to where I like them. I think you can always progress with the way a bike feels, and you need that to be one of the guys. I think our bike is good and as long as it is good enough to win, that is all that matters.
You are in the position to win you first title. Is this something you think about often, or is the hype around it made more by the media?
It's obviously something that I think about and is in the back of my head, and if someone says anything about it, it sparks the thought. But whenever I am on the line, it is the last thing that is on my mind. I'm just trying to get the holeshot, lead the race, and get my fifth win of the season. That is my goal going into it and I feel like it shouldn't be a problem to get a win or a podium.
Is it a personal accomplishment to come as far as you have in the last few years? Even if you don't win the title, is it something that you would be proud of?
For the last three years or so, I've always wanted to be a guy that has won. It's just taken me a while to figure out how to do it. At this point it is cool to be on the box, but winning is all that matters and is all that I want to do. If you don't win it's a bummer, so I'm going to do all I can to get that "W."
Last year you were strong in the Nationals, and this year you appear even stronger. What do you expect this summer?
To win [laughs]. That's my goal and I feel like it is the only thing that I will tolerate. Podiums are cool and if twelve podiums get me the championship, then I'm fine with that; the end result is all that I'm worried about. But winning championships are what we are paid to do.