Photo by: AMA Pro Racing/Dave Hoenig
Interview by: Cory Texter
We caught up with championship contender Bryan Smith to see what his thoughts were on how his day went at Santa Rosa, the rider he is chasing down Brad Baker, and the season finale next weekend at Pomona. Here is what he had to say!
NMC: Talk a little bit about Santa Rosa. How was the track and how were things going throughout the day?
BS42: Santa Rosa was going good before it started to mist. I know there were a lot of complaints about the track and that kind of made the whole thing look bad. It was the first “old school” style dirttrack that we have raced in probably about 10 years. Sort of going back to the Del Mar & Ascot days. Things you would see watching “On Any Sunday”. The race was called off due to a combination of track conditions and weather, but I liked the track and it fit my style a little bit. Motorcycle racing is dangerous on any track. We had a great day going. Set fast time in qualifying and won the fastest heat. Unfortunately, I messed up the first corner of the dash and Baker got away a little bit. I reeled him in a little bit, but we settled for 2nd place. I was confident I could get the job done in the main. Just needed to get a good start and hammer down. Things were going according to plan, but then it started to rain and the red flag came out. I think the AMA made the right call on the whole deal, but it was still a bummer not to get to finish the race.
NMC: You got through Castle Rock and Peoria TT in good position to make a strong run at the championship. Has everything gone according to plan the last half of the season?
BS42: This is the closest I have been to the overall title, so every race is so crucial especially with the short schedule we had this year. It’s so hard to make up ground on riders like Brad Baker and Brandon Robinson. They have been consistent all year. I know I needed to salvage my singles results because I haven’t been as strong on them and I felt like I did that, but actually a lot of the points were capitalized for those riders on the twin. I had a mechanical in Virginia and that was a huge bummer. We salvaged a 12th place, but we lost a lot of points there. Springfield Mile weekend was tough as well. Getting 2nd place is never something to be upset about, but we won it last fall and we were hoping to get maximum points at that facility but Robinson was on his game and it didn’t happen. I gave it everything I had and so did the team, but that’s racing and it played out how it did.
NMC: At the beginning of the season did you think Baker and Robinson would be the two final contenders along with yourself at the finale in Pomona?
BS42: No, I mean you can never bet against the champion. Jared (Mees) has been the most consistent rider over the past couple seasons. I figured if I would be battling for the championship, it would be with Jared and Jake (Johnson). They have won the most races the last three or four years. I think both would have been up there barring a few unlucky situations throughout the season. I knew Baker would be tough, but I didn’t think he would be this tough. He has a really good deal going with the Atherton’s. Dave Atherton can build an exceptional motorcycle and with Kevin (Atherton) coaching him, they sure are making it tough on everyone. Brad is a heck of a rider, no doubt about it.
NMC: There are some rumors going around about a current protest from yourself and your team in response to events that took place in Daytona earlier this year. Any truth to this and what is your take on it?
BS42: There is no protest going on right now from my team or myself. So no, there is no truth to that rumor.
NMC: Final question. What are the nerves like headed into Pomona and what do you think you need to do to secure your first overall championship?
BS42: I wouldn’t say the nerves are too intense or anything. If anything, I race better under pressure so mentally I would say I am ready to go out there and do my best. We have to try and fast qualify, win the dash and win the main event and not worry about what I can’t control. I have always done well at Pomona. I won there before when it wasn’t a national. Last year I finished 3rd coming from the third row. It’s kind of ironic that last year Baker and Myself were battling the whole race for 2nd and 3rd as Coolbeth checked out. It might be the same this year but with different circumstances. However, I am ready and I am confident in my bike as well as the team supporting me.