Round one of the Geico/AMA Endurocross series went pretty much as well as it could have for me this last weekend. Considering that only two weeks ago I was worried that I would be having surgery on my shoulder, and really not knowing what to expect from my arm during the event, I felt like Saturday night just worked out perfectly.
All of my friends and family were there to watch (as they always are!) and I know that they could tell that I was really racing my heart out for all of them in that arena. But being that it was Vegas, I wasn’t all just racing and business- the Off Road Support Team and I did have our fair share of fun!
Thursday we got to spend some time just hanging out and enjoying the 115 degree weather, so Ed my mechanic and my neighbor Antonio joined me atop the stratosphere where we actually got to jump off the tower and fall 800 feet to the ground! IT WAS AWSOME! We each took our turn, and then spent time just hanging out until a group of us went back up for dinner at the revolving restauraunt.- Thanks to John Barger for the best meal that I had all weekend.
Friday morning we all got up and spent some time setting up our pits and making sure that everything was ready for the day to come. An early morning meant that Friday was literally the time to test that everything worked and all of the tools were on hand. At 11 am the guys and I went back into the hotel and all got Sweedish Massages- the only real way to prepare for Endurocross. I went to bed early knowing that Saturday would be very busy.
Because of my performance last year, and more specifically that fact that I got sick, I was not elligable to be prequalified for the first round of 2010. This meant that I was faced with accomplishing two goals coming into the morning. 1) Qualify for the evening program, and 2) Earn points towards the series for 2010. The qualifying was rather easy in the Amateur class and luckily I made it into the night show on my first try.
The Expert class, however, was a little bit more difficult as my heat had a pretty stacked group of riders who were capable of running lap times of under a 1:15. I was able to set both the first and second fastest lap times of the morning in practice ( see picture below) but that means absolutely nothing when it comes to the actual racing. I have learned a few times that just because you are the fastest with no one on the track doesn’t mean you will just go out there and win.
In the first race I had a good jump. I was confident because I was already in for the Amateur class, but this group was just really good. I got out of the line in first, and was eventually passed by Ryan Dudek. I also had Rory Sullivan and Corey Floyd in my group, and they were both putting pressure on me the whole time. Eventually I would get hung up in the matrix, and both Floyd and Sullivan would get around me just before the end. That meant that I would have to run the LQC and hope that nothing odd happened forcing me out of the race.
At 12:30, after spending about 10 minute in a little inflatable pool full of ice, I was back on the line and ready for the night show. In this race the top 2 went on, so I knew that I just had to cruise and finish to make it in. We only had 4 guys in the group, so it was fairly easy but Rory was out there with me and he got the early lead. I followed for about 3 laps knowing that it didn’t matter as long as I was in second, but on the final lap he bobbled and it was enough for me to get by.
At 12:45 I had accomplished goal number one in both classes and knew that I had just started my workout for the day. Ed and Tuner from TBT racing spent some time on my bike to ensure that the jetting was just perfect. They also washed and prepared the KX250F for the night to come. But at 4 pm I had one final chance to set a fast lap.
The hot laps bring out all of the qualified evening’s competitors for a chance to get the fastest time and a good gate pick. With my faster times in the morning I figured that I would be ok, but the addition of water meant that I would spend more time with my feet on the ground then I had hoped for, and I ended with a time of about 1:15. It was good enough for about 27th place out of 34 guys, but in the long run it didn’t really matter.
Race Day – Evening Portion
After a short nap, we were back in the arena for the start of the night show. I was group number three, and I had a couple of the bigger names in that I really didn’t want to be going against. Cory Graffunder, Nathan Woods, and Colton Haaker were all in my group, along with Cody Webb who I have ridden some trials with. Out of the gates I actually pulled a really good start. I was sitting in 3rd out of 12 and felt like I might have a shot for a pass.
When we made it to the option line, I took the short route and Dudek went wide, I got around him and was now sitting in a transfer position to the main with only 2 laps to go. Unfortunately things didn’t get easy form there, and lapped traffic made me fall of the pace. I eventually got stuck behind Nathan Woods and Justin Soule made a pass on my inside putting me in third. Dudek quickly followed and when it was all said and done I found myself in 4th just outside of the transfer position that I needed.
When I pulled off the track, I had to immediately line up for the Amateur final where I barely got to the line when the gates dropped. The original plan was to pull out of the Heat 3 race to line up for this one if I wasn’t in the running, but up until the end I was in a transfer position and it wasn’t worth pulling off!
In the Amateur race I was a little winded and just unfortunately made a mistake allowing most of the field my. This was solely do to the fact that I was so winded, and I just decided to pull off before further injuring my shoulder.
After the intermission I felt pretty good and knew that I had two more chances to try and make the main. Again in the semi I came out strong and physically led for a small portion of the event. Justin Soule got the transfer spot in this one, and I finished 3rd which was good enough to get into the LCQ (which also meant that I was eligible to earn championship points!!!)
In the LCQ we had basically all of the guys who have ever done well at Endurocross. It wasn’t an easy task, but I knew that I would secure myself points either way, so I just rode as hard as I could in an attempt to pass as many people as possible. Late in the race I made two passes on both Corey Floyd and Ronald Como and finished in 5th which physically put me at 14th overall for the night. – I was stoked!
Overall it was a good night. My shoulder held up, and I was able to put on a show for the crowd. I watched the main from the sidelines and cheered on everyone as they passed each lap. Taddy basically ran away with the win, outside of a 6-lap charge from Geoff Aaron, and looked good the whole way.
Saturday night was definitely an eye opening experience for me, and I now know that I can ride at this level. My strength and endurance have improved 10-fold from the last time that I raced in Vegas, and now I know that I have one final new goal in mind. MAKE- A-MAIN!!
Outside of all of the hoopla of Vegas, this event is really the biggest one of the year. The stadium was the fullest that it has ever been with close to 7000 people in attendance. Everything went off perfectly and the Endurocross team had things down to a T. The pits were full of people all weekend, and I must have signed 200 autographs between the hot laps and the evening portion alone.
We had a big group come watch me, as we always do and it was fun to share my success with my entire family and all of my friends. I got to spend some time with a few of my sponsors who are always out at the EX events, and Patrick from Recluse and Brian Elliott from Allicanceoffroad.com were both a whole lot of fun all weekend.
If you have never been to an Endurocross before in Vegas, the best part besides the racing is the impromptu meet and greet with all of the pros after the event. We literally had a group off all industry people intermingled with all sorts of racers and fans alike, and the Orleans puts up with us clogging their entire bar area!
Special thanks to both Ed Villanueva and Tuner from TBT for wrenching on my bike all weekend as well as giving me motivation all night long to keep pushing hard! You two are the best!
Dylan at Shotmaker Productions put up a pretty awesome video which has a small section which features me in it! Check it out at http://shotmakerproductions.com/Shot…ws10_rnd1.html
Also thanks to Chilly White for showing some love and getting great photos of me up at www.enduro360.com. If you haven’t seen the site it is a pretty good source for everything that is going in off road.
I now sit 14th in points and will be invited to the next round in Oklahoma which means that I won’t have to spend the day trying to qualify like I had to this weekend. From there I will head up to Canada for the extreme enduro called Xtinction, and then return to Indy for the third round of the Endurocross series.
As always a big thanks goes out to all of my sponsors who made me look so good this weekend. Kawasaki of Simi Valley, Off Road Support, TBT Racing, Rekluse, Pro Moto Billet, Fastway Performance, IMS, FMF, BRP, DISTRICT 37, and of course Allianceoffroad.com
See you in the Desert! (or Oklahoma!)
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