Anaheim I Supercross Press Conference Quotes

Here’s what some of supercross’ top stars had to say at the 2017 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season-opening press conference at Angel Stadium today.


It’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross time again.

Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, will once again mark the kickoff for one of the most popular racing series in the world as AMA Supercross begins its 44th year of existence, and once again the field in the premier class is laden with talent, including a rock-solid champion, his flamboyant arch-rival, a host of veterans, young lions and an X-factor newcomer who could surprise everyone. As is the custom, all were assembled at Angel Stadium today for the annual Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series-opening press conference.

Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey is the three-time and defending series champion, returning to supercross after missing much of the 2016 outdoor season with a serious neck injury. But that was after he destroyed the supercross season with 9 wins and 16 podium finishes in the 17 rounds of the series.

If Dungey wants to do it again, he’ll he have to beat back some stiff competition, not the least of which is former teammate and rival Ken Roczen, who dominated the final third of the 2016 supercross series by earning five wins. The flashy German is confident that he can pick up right where he left off last year despite switching from Suzuki to Honda, and his performance at the 2016 Monster Energy Cup makes it hard to argue against him.

Veteran Chad Reed is back, and the Australian is anxious to prove that he is one of those ageless wonders who remains competitive against riders several years his junior. The Factory Yamaha rider will be looking to get back into the win column in 2017.

Right alongside Reed, Cooper Webb enters the 450cc class after sweeping to titles in the AMA 250cc SX West and Lucas Oil 250cc Pro Motocross Championship series in 2016. Despite his rookie status, Webb has already shown promise on his new Factory Yamaha YZ450F, and if he gets off to a good start, he could be a true surprise in 2017.

And there are others, such as Jason Anderson, the 2016 Anaheim I winner, and veterans such as Josh Grant and Davi Millsaps, both of whom have stood atop the Anaheim podium. Meanwhile, France’s Marvin Musquin will be seeking his first career 450cc supercross win after very nearly accomplishing that deed a few times in 2016.

Here’s what some of the sport’s top dogs had to say at Angel Stadium today.

Anaheim-Press-Conference-B-01-05-2017Ryan Dungey, Red Bull KTM

On his expectations for 2017
The last couple years have definitely been great, but it’s a brand new year, new series, new championship, and I think there are going to be different challenges. For me to be wanting to live in the past…that was last year…that’s done. It all starts here and now. I’m just taking it one race at a time and focusing on myself and mainly trusting in the plan, in what we’ve done, and executing it well. And, ultimately, getting to the end strong. There are a lot of guys this year, some newcomers in there. There are going to be challenges, and not to underestimate anyone. We’ve had a good off-season, and I am looking forward to getting things rolling this Saturday.

With nine wins and 16 podiums in 2016, do you look at those stats to help shape your game plan?

Yeah. Absolutely. Being consistent is important, in this series especially right now. Consistently winning is also important. I’m always trying to do my best each and every race, but a lot of work is done in the few months that we have off. You really have to capitalize on those moments, taking the time with the team and the training and the riding. And then late in the season Kenny was coming on strong, and I had to find out where were the areas that I could be better. Myself? The bike setup? With the team I have, I have all the pieces of the puzzle.

On the main event format change from 20 laps to 20 minutes plus one lap
I think it’s good. I think it’s different as far as the mental approach. Whichever way it is going to be, it is what it is. It shouldn’t be a problem physical-wise, because that is how I’ve been training from the start.

Anaheim-Press-Conference-C-01-05-2017Chad Reed, Factory Yamaha

On 2017
I’m excited. I want to say that I sat here last year without even a signed contract. We were still going through it. So, I’m excited. This has been the plan for a long time, and this year I welcome a new teammate. It has been exciting, feeding off a young kid with the energy of Cooper [Webb]. This is my 17th Anaheim I and my 40th Anaheim race, so I have done this a time or two, but it still feels like the first. I don’t think I act like a total spaz like I used to [laughs], but I think for the most part the excitement is still there, and I look forward to getting out there and seeing the new bike and the new gear and rippin’ a new track. The off-season has gone well. I had a race in Australia where we were able to kind of brush up on where we needed to be. Since then, I have just been at home. It has been a long off-season. We weren’t rushing. We weren’t chasing our tail. We were able to just kind of do our thing.
When I go home there’s a lot of pressure to win, and you don’t want to get beat by your new teammate [Cooper Webb]. You just want to go out and ride and enjoy it and show up for the fans. It was a good race. It was a good track. It kind of rides like a Bercy. I think we did what we needed to achieve.

On the lack of James Stewart in the field in 2017

I honestly think it is sad. Putting my differences aside, I think it is sad. He has 50 wins, I believe, second all time, a two-time champ—he’s got the credentials. I think it’s really sad that he doesn’t have a job, but I have to think that he needs to look in the mirror sometime. That’s the best way to do it. I’ll miss racing him—and I don’t know if this is it for him or not—but I think that the picture was getting painted. It’s sad that it has turned out this way.

On the new race format
I’m hopeful that the tracks improve. The things they do to slow us down and try to get the lap times back up to one minute, hopefully now we can have more normal tracks and then they’ll just let us race. I think that 20 minutes is a good number. When you start running around 48-second lap times with these guys, it can be a real disadvantage if you get a bad start. I just pray for big whoops and long motos.

On being the series elder statesman and renewing his Yamaha contract
Everyone wants to talk about my age and stuff like that, but for me it’s all a feeling thing. I still feel competitive, and I still feel excited to work as hard as we have to work to be competitive at this level. If I can achieve that early on, then that would be the goal, to start those [contract] talks. I’d like to stay around, work hard and try to race for wins.

On being a mentor to Cooper Webb
When you’re racing someone, it’s kind of hard to hold their hand and tell them what you think they need to do. With Cooper being based here in California and me in Florida, we’ve only tested together two days and then raced two days in Australia. That makes it difficult. But I want to be someone who is a positive role model, be level-headed. If there are any questions on his end, and he wants to come and ask, I’m an open book and wouldn’t hold anything back from him. What he brings to the team and the sport is fun. And for me, being the most experienced guy in the class, it’s fun to have someone like that to feed off of. Anything he wants to know, I’ll answer his questions.

Anaheim-Press-Conference-D-01-05-2017Ken Roczen, Team Honda HRC

Sizing up 2017
Last year we had a really good year, but it just took a little bit of time to get going. It was more toward the end of the supercross season. But I’m glad I actually decided to race the Monster Cup a few months back. It was good just to get a race under our belt, and I am with a lot of new people, so it was good to get used to each other. This will feel more familiar on Saturday, and I am just excited to get going. We’ve had quite some time off, and there are a lot of neat things going on—new gear, a new bike and everything. I’m excited. It will be a lot of fun. There are a lot of people right now that are going fast, and there’s going to be a lot of hectic [things] going on for the first few races, as always. We’re just going to focus on ourselves and bring in even more focus than we had in the past years.

On wearing a suit and tie to the Anaheim press conference rather than the usual team uniform
I want to really elevate the sport, and you can see in all of the other big sports like the NBA and football, they’re all showing up in suits and respect the media. We’re getting dirty and sweaty on Saturday, and we do that every weekend, so we thought it was a good idea to do something special and show up like that. I hope we can see some more of it.

On changes to his program to better prepare for 2017

Year after year you learn more and more, and I am treating this whole thing with respect. It’s going to be a long season, and there are a lot of good riders up here. I think it’s just about being wiser year after year. You can’t win a championship in the first couple races but you sure can lose it. I am just focusing on myself and just want to take it race by race. Last year it seemed like I couldn’t really find myself in the very front a whole lot in the beginning, and that needs to change. The boat started sailing away, and we caught it toward the end of the season, started getting some wins and riding a lot better. I feel like this year we are a lot more ready. I have another year under my belt, and I’ve had some good training. We’re strong. We were strong last year, too, but there were just a couple little puzzle pieces missing. I feel like we have those this year. I think we just need good starts and not to do any major mistakes where we could end up with an injury. We’re ready no matter what. I want to get good starts. I’ve been working a lot on that, and I am the most consistent I have ever been on starts. That usually helps a lot.

On his new factory Honda and how it compares to his previous ride

At the beginning of the [2016] season we were just a little bit off, and it was honestly just tiny changes [that were made]. But when you are riding at the level that we’re going, a small change can make a huge difference. This year I have no problems whatsoever [with the Honda], and that’s always a good thing. That’s why I even decided to race Monster Cup, because everything already felt great. We’ve been pretty solid the whole time, and it’s mentally calming to go through the first race and know that there is nothing I would want to change. I wouldn’t want to change anything about it.

Anaheim-Press-Conference-E-01-05-2017Jason Anderson, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna

On winning the 2016 Anaheim I Supercros
Last year I came out and, I think, surprised myself more than anything, with that win. But, you know, I’d been working hard, and we’ve got the guys back at Baker’s Factory, and we were all working hard. It wasn’t too much of a surprise to be up front, but to actually win it was pretty emotional for me and my team. It’s going to be good this year. We’ve got a lot of guys, and I’m just looking forward to seeing how it plays out. Hopefully, I can be up there toward the front again.

Finished second at Anaheim I in 2015 and won in 2016.

I’ve definitely done good here, but I want to work on keeping it going for the whole season. I want to be in the fight for the championship, and I want to be battling with these dudes every weekend. I feel like I was a little bit better last year, but I was still more of a third- or fourth-place guy. It’s hard to pinpoint what we’ve worked on, but I definitely feel like you grow from year to year. I feel like I’m a little bit more prepared than last year, and hopefully we can do a lot more winning than being a third- or fourth-place guy. That’s my goal.

Anaheim-Press-Conference-F-01-05-2017Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki

On the vibe of Anaheim I
There’s an extra energy here. You can try to treat it like it’s just another race or just another Anaheim I, but the truth is that every time you come here you’re always a little bit extra fired up or a little bit more nervous. You try to be better at it. You try to have the preparation and come into the season healthy, and you come into this race and see what you can bring to the table.

Assessing his position with Monster Energy Kawasaki in year two as opposed to year one.

I think a good reflection on that was Monster Cup and even later in the season, the GPs and the outdoor season. Last year, I thought I came in here [to Anaheim] in an okay spot, but the reality was that I really wasn’t. I was just behind, and I was playing catch-up the whole time, even with my body, physically. This year has been just a normal year for me. I was able to do my training and be more prepared, so I should be in a better place.

Anaheim-Press-Conference-G-01-05-2017Cooper Webb, Factory Yamaha

Thoughts on the 450cc class

I think this season I have a lot of learning to do as quickly as I can, but I feel confident. Having Chad [Reed] as a teammate and someone to learn off of is great, and it will really benefit me as the year goes on. I’m just excited to see where all the training in the off-season has put me. That’s just a big unknown for myself and for everybody. I’ve had a really good off-season, and I’m just looking forward to getting on a gate and racing, and seeing what we can do.

On coming out and making a statement.
I’d love to be able to start off strong, and that’s what I’m looking for, but at the same time it is an all-new class and an all-new series for me. I tend to try to learn as fast as I can and go from there. We’ll just see where I am. There’s no pressure. I’ll just go out there and do what I know how to do, and when I need to adjust, learn how to adjust.

Anaheim-Press-Conference-H-01-05-2017Marvin Musquin, Red Bull KTM

On racing in the off-season as opposed to just staying home, testing and training
It’s a good thing for me. It’s a good thing for the team and for Frankie, my mechanic. It has been a good season, definitely the best ever. I was able to race in Germany, the Monster Energy Cup, the Red Bull Straight Rhythm and then two more races in France and Switzerland. We were able to see the changes that we made on the bike, if it was better or not. We were able to do some starts, do some racing with good riders. It was not Anaheim I, those races, but they were good and we were able to get some wins. So I’m feeling a lot better than I was a year ago here. I’m happy. I’m excited. Everybody has been working hard, I know that, and I have been too. It [Anaheim I] is going to be the start of the season, but it’s not going to be the only race of the season. We just have to keep going and get better.

It has been 15 years since the last French rider, David Vuillemin, won a premier supercross main event. Does that add pressure?
Well, yeah, it does. I would like to get that first one so that I can tell DV that, “Yeah, I finally got a win.” I’ve been looking at him for years, and he has done a lot of good things. I was not as quick as him when I moved to the 450, but I am learning, and I almost got a win. Like I said earlier, it is another year, and I am feeling better. If I could get a win, that would be awesome, and that’s definitely the goal. It would be fun to see how DV reacted to that.

Davi Millsaps, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS Team

On winning the 2013 Anaheim I Supercross
[The year] 2013 obviously was a good year for me. That [win] is four years ago today, I think. It was definitely good back then for me. Then the next weekend in Phoenix, I struggled. But coming away with the victory at Anaheim when I don’t think I had ever finished inside the top 10 in previous years—to go from that to winning—I surprised a lot of people, and I surprised myself. It would be nice to be back there, that’s for sure. It has been four years since I have been on the darn podium. All these guys are here to win. Any one of them can win these races. It’s awesome.

Coming into 2017 Anaheim I battling illness
The last couple weeks have been rough for me, dealing with little setbacks. I hurt my wrist again, and I’m dealing with whatever I got last week, and I couldn’t do much. It’s a long season, and I am just looking forward to 17 rounds and doing the best that I can. It’s not how I wanted to come into the first round.

Josh Grant, Monster Energy Kawasaki

On winning at Anaheim in 2009 and returning to racing in 2017
Obviously, 2009 was a long time ago, it feels like. But I’m just glad to be here. It’s an opportunity that I’m thankful for. Those fill-in rides [for Kawasaki] really paid off. I am glad that I stayed ready. You know, last year was a struggle obviously, having to watch the races and not being able to be there. I’m fortunate, and I am glad to be here.