The hills of Corona, California were buzzing with multi-million dollar Supercross race bikes last week as teams from Honda and Kawasaki got bikes, bodies and brains ready for the opening round of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross Championship in Anaheim on January 7. Among them was Monster Energy Kawasaki team racer Jason Anderson. The New Mexican bashed out countless test laps before turning over his Monster Energy KX450SR to a legion of Kawasaki mechanics and technicians, giving the runner-up in the 2022 Supercross Championship a chance to get us caught up on his preseason progress.

Q: How do you feel to be out here as full-on contender for the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross Championship?

Jason Anderson: I feel good. it’s hard to say because you always second guess yourself  You’re saying to yourself, “Am I better than last year?” You’re always trying to be on the top of your game, but I feel like I’m in a spot where I feel like I’m going to be very competitive this year and I have my head down now. I’m just trying to keep it going and to keep my focus.

Q: Eli Tomac has his program in Colorado and Chase Sexton is right there as the young championship contending charger. You, however, almost quietly go about your business. I mean, there is not a terrific amount of fanfare around you, is there?

JA: Yeah, and to be honest, I just love racing dirt bikes and that’s kind of all I’ve really got to offer, you know? As far as the fans go, I feel that obviously there are a few fans that appreciate me, but it’s tough for me. I feel like I’m in a zone by myself, you know? I’m getting older, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love it any more than the first day that I threw my leg over a dirt bike and I’m just trying to keep the ride funded for as long as I can, because right now I feel like I have it really good. I enjoyed my day today and I enjoy the people that are around me and life is good.

Q: This isn’t just a job to you is it? This isn’t about just making money and making a living for yourself, huh?

JA: Yeah, 100 percent. It’s something that is my life. It’s a lifestyle and I think that’s the toughest part about it. To be successful in this sport, you have to turn it into your lifestyle. That comes along with everyone that is around me. It’s not only my team and my trainer, but my family and everything like that from my mom and dad to my wife to my grandpa. All of them. It’s probably got to be tough on them, too, you know? It’s a lifestyle and they are all cool with me doing what I love to do. Man, it’s been fun and I just don’t want it to end.

Q: The entire Anderson family is racing out there racing with you, huh?

JA: Yeah, I mean obviously from a young age you need the support from your family and luckily my grandpa was able to go with me all across the country, and my mom and dad and my grandma. We’ve just been grinding since I was six years old and I’m 29 right now. We’re all striving to be better and still want to get those wins and make some runs at some championships and hopefully we can accomplish some of the goals that we have. You know that you can only control what you can control and I just try to keep my focus on what I’m doing and trying to get those negative thoughts out of my head.

Q: You won seven main events in 2022 and narrowly lost the Supercross title to Eli Tomac. In fact, if not for that 10th-place finish you scored at Anaheim 1 and the 21st place at Detroit, you very well could have won everything in the end. What’s your take on that?

JA: I mean it was tough. There were tough races. Anaheim, I obviously didn’t go so well. I was passing into second place there and, well, it went how it went and I placed 10th. Even at San Diego, my radiator cap came off my bike and there was smoke everywhere. I went from second to eighth in that race. Detroit, I pushed the front end out and that was on me. There were a lot of races that were just tough pills to swallow because I had so much opportunity at stake. That’s where we are at, just trying to take the opportunity when it is there and whenever something positive comes your way, make the best of it. For me, last year being able to overcome some of things and to be able to come back and win those last four races and be able to make the best out of it is real progress for me.

Q: As far as your competition goes, what did you make of Tomac and Chase Sexton in 2022, and just who are you going to have to cross swords with in 2023 to make a run at your second Supercross title?

JA:Tomac is always strong. I think that it is going to be a little bit closer for the top five guys — I think that you’re going to have a lot of guys who maybe didn’t have big years last year, didn’t race to their standards and they really want to prove a point in 2023. For me it is very important not to underestimate anyone.

It’s very important for me to get the best out of myself from day to day and that’s all I can ask from myself. Obviously we want to win, but some days if it means your best is in the top five, that’s what we have to work with and that’s our mentality. But I want to win. Last year the race wins were good but for us, we feel that the grass is always greener and that’s what we want and we aren’t going to settle until we get it.

Q: You have to be a killer to win in this sport, huh? A lot of people may think that you’re your own guy with his own way of doing things, but down deep, when you’re out on that track, you’re as ruthless and driven as absolutely anyone.

JA: Yeah, I feel like I’m pretty relaxed when I’m off the track, but when you’re on the track, there is so

much passion with what I want to achieve that I think it overpowers any of the calmness that I have in my body. It’s tough too because you’re lining up next to a guy and they are trying to take something from you and I’m like, “That’s mine!” You want to be professional and a so-called “class act,” but it’s tough to ride that line, you know? I try to be a better person, but it is a tough thing to do when you want something so bad

Q: The 2023 Monster Energy Supercross Championship begins at Angel Stadium in a few weeks. How are you going to approach that curtain-raising round?

JA: I just want to go there and get a good start. Coming out of there with a win would be amazing. I’d like to be able to put my foot down a little bit at that race, but it is going to be a tough year and I’m looking long term — I want to be there for the war. And I’ve got a cool team. There is me, my mechanic Jason “Rango” Montoya. I’ve got Broc Tickle — he’s been nothing but good to me. He’s my trainer, but also my friend. We work together and  there is not really much ego between us. I think that we are very open-minded and really trying to get the most out of our brains and to learn as much as we can. The communication is very open here. Within a team, it is nice to see the honesty from the top of the corporation to the bottom.

Q: How long do you think are you going to continue to race?

JA: As long as I’m competitive I don’t want to stop. I’m having a kid this year and my wife is like, “I don’t care how long you want to go, as long as you just take us with you. If that means you going five more years, we’re going to do it.” She’s down with it and that’s my number one crew and my family too — my mom and dad and all of them. I just want to make sure that we are keeping the home life good, that is very important to me.