At the opening round of the 2021 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship at the Fox Raceway National 1 in Southern California, the Monster Energy/Sta Racing Yamaha team let the world know that team rider Christian Craig would return to the team in 2022. He’s set to compete in the 250SX class of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series, as well as the 450cc class in Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Having won the opening round of the 2021 250SX East Region Series at Houston, Craig held steady and displayed excellent consistency in winning again at Indy as well as landing on the podium five other times before suffering a fractured fibula and ankle sprain at the Salt Lake City 1 Supercross. In a desperate attempt to try and fight with teammate Colt Nichols for the 250SX East title, the Southern California native tried to line up at race in Utah, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Forging onward, Craig hopped on the 450 for the summer’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross outdoor championship brawl and wound down the year with an impressive sixth overall.
Now, it is the December of 2021 and the new Monster Energy Supercross Series beckons. Poised to ride the 250cc motorcycle one more season in the football and baseball stadiums of this nation, Craig has been back in his new home of Tallahassee, Florida and bashing out countless laps and motos with his Monster Energy/Star Yamaha racing teammates. Determined to win an AMA 250cc title before graduating full-time to the 450cc classification, Craig has been a man on a mission and over the weekend, we spoke with him.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us this hectic week leading right up to Christmas. You and the family all good?
CHRISTIAN CRAIG: Yes. Everything is good. Yes, with the kids we have one that is age seven, one is three and we have a newborn at six weeks old. It’s a lot but it has been fun and we enjoy it. We just got the kids to bed and we’re chilling now. All good.
Q: You guys are now officially living in Florida?
CC: Yeah, we’re in Florida. We had to move here since the whole team did, so we’re in Tallahassee. It’s been a big, big change for me. I grew up in California. I was born and raised there and that’s pretty much all I’ve known. I’ve traveled around racing, but never been based out of another state, so it’s been a big change for our family. It’s a good change and I think we needed this. It gets me out of my comfort zone and will help get me to that next level that I’m looking for.
Q: I did an interview with you much earlier in the year and you said to me, “I know lining up that I’ll be confident in my bike, my trainer and just everything. I feel like I’m kind of at the later stage of my career, but I still have that fire underneath me and I still feel like I’m learning and growing and getting faster and getting better each year.” All of that really rings true going into 2022?
CC: Yeah, I mean some people ae like, “Are you sure you want to pack up everything and take your whole family and move everything to Florida?” I sold my house in California and we bought a house out here in Tallahassee and I’m all-in. I’m with my trainer, Gareth Swanepoel, and I really want to get a championship before I move up to the 450cc class full-time. I think win or lose, 2022 will be my final year in the 250 class and I want to go out with a bang, for sure.
Q: Through your performance in the 2021 250SX East Region you appeared to up your game with both consistency and podium finishes. You were an absolute contender for that title before you got hurt at Salt Lake. Do you feel like you raised your game last season?
CC: Yeah, for sure. My first year with the team, it went good. I started off with a win in Houston, and then a few races later at Indianapolis 3 I won again. I battled to the end with my teammate Colt Nichols and unfortunately, it all got cut short with the practice crash I had at Salt Lake. I think I proved to myself and everyone that I can run for a championship and I can have the red plate and be a contender. I think all of that was a huge confidence booster for me to have the red plate and to be able to battle down right to the end. Unfortunately I got hurt, but yeah, it was a good year and I fully believe that I’m capable of doing it again.
Q: What did you make of your 450cc outdoor season? You placed sixth overall in the points and closed strong with two top five finishes at the season closing Fox Raceway 2 and Hangtown rounds.
CC: It was good. I got thrown into it after the Salt Lake crash. I came back into it and didn’t have a lot of time until the first round, so at each round I got a little bit better. If you look at my results, they kind of improved over the summer and by the end of the series I reeled off two top five finishes. It helps me hopefully get a full-time 450 ride next year, but it looks like I’ll be doing the same thing. I’ll be doing 250 indoor and 450 outdoor in 2022. I’m excited. Obviously, Tomac is on the team now and that’s going to raise up everyone’s level. I’m excited to do all of that over the summertime.