Globally celebrated as the longest-running national race in American motocross history, the storied Hangtown Motocross Classic, based on a challenging, strength-sapping circuit graced with drastic changes in elevation, off-camber sections and sketchy hard-pack soil, was the site of a breakthrough afternoon of racing performed by Jason Anderson.
The 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross champion is now a winner in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Monster Energy Kawasaki racer Anderson, a winner of seven 450X supercross mains in the 2022 season, had never been quite able to pull off in Pro Motocross – until now.
Anderson grabbed the opening moto lead away from Honda HRC pilot Chase Sexton and then cleared off to win by 0.39s in a battle to the line. Anderson didn’t get a terrific jump out of the gate for moto two, but the New Mexico native battled his way up into third, his one-three overall good enough to outshine Chase Sexton’s two-two and Monster Energy Yamaha’s Eli Tomac’s four-one.
Q: Was it true that at first, you didn’t actually know that you had won the overall at Hangtown?
JASON ANDERSON: Yeah, that last lap I got up to third and I was like, one-three, for some reason I didn’t think that I got the win. I crossed the mechanics’ area, and my mechanic was like, “You did it.” I was like “Did it?” So I asked the flagger when I pulled off and he told me. I was stoked! It’s taken 12 years to get a win like this, and a lot of hard work. It feels good.
Q: While out there racing in both motos, it looked like you guys were forced to take a bad line and a rough line here and there along the way to try and make things happen out there. How did you see all of it?
JA: Yeah, in general, when you’re out front, you’re able to be a little bit smarter with your lines and stuff like that. First moto, Chase was pulling away from me a little bit there. I changed some of my lines and then I tried to hammer away. It was good. That second moto, I started a little further back. Passing those guys… those guys are good! I was passing Dungey, Cairoli, Kenny. Those guys are pretty gnarly. That’s some work, so once I got to third, I was like, “Man, trying to catch these two is going to be tough.” But it was good. I felt today I was able to hammer the whole moto, and it was an improvement over last weekend.
Q: Was the race pace actually quicker than you thought it would be?
JA: What’s crazy right now is, the pace is pretty high, and when you’re in that top three, I mean, we’re battling all the way to the end. It’s taking everything out of you, and you’re using your brain the whole time. That mental capacity is tough to have for 70 minutes of racing. You’re trying find things, latching on to lines, you’re problem solving the whole time. It’s tough! I think we’re getting better, and I think our bike is good. So, yeah, it’s fun.
Q: It really appears like you and the entire Monster Energy Kawasaki race team really have the bike dialed in. Thoughts?
JA: It’s just little things. It’s that one percent here and there. We’re not making crazy changes, but yeah, we’re making changes. It’s all about knowing what your bike is going to do and being comfortable on that thing. Knowing how it’s going to react and kick when it hits the bumps.
Q: The 2022 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship 450MX field is especially fierce and competitive now. Perhaps not as easy to make passes on your competitors in this day and age. We knew that your motivation was to get that first national win. Are you going to push to make those passes when necessary from here on in?
JA: My whole goal is to be relentless and put my effort out there the whole time. Wherevers that puts me, it puts me. First moto, I put the effort out there and was able to get up to the lead. Second moto, everything I had was third place. I think with a start I could just keep fighting. I’m going to try to do that all year and see where we end up.
Q: The margin of victory in the opening moto was 0.3s. Once you took command of the lead from Chase Sexton, were you looking at him to settle in, or did you expect him to come back and make another run at you?
JA: When I was behind him, he got caught up with lappers a little bit. And then for me, coming into those last couple of laps, you get into that top 15 and they’re battling. It’s hard for them to want to give up too much, because some of those guys are in a battle. That’s how our racing works and it’s just another variable we have to deal with. As far as that first moto goes, I was still pushing trying to hold that gap.