Photos & Interview by: Chase Yocom – Written by: Dan Lamb
We interviewed Smartop / Motoconcepts / Honda’s Justin Brayton last weekend after the Atlanta SX, and when asked if he liked the Daytona SX, Justin told MotoXAddicts’ Chase Yocom, “No, not really to be honest.” When asked about his expectations of the Daytona race, he said, “Get a holeshot in the main and just survive that track.” Well, Justin, you didn’t get the holeshot, but you got a great start, quickly got to the lead and survived it by winning your first ever main event and becoming the oldest man (33 years 11 months) to do so in the process. Congratulations, Justin; you cemented your legacy last night and you are officially in the record books in more ways than one.
There are Cinderella stories in sports that create some amazing moments for fans and the history books, but what Justin did in Daytona will be forever remembered as one of–if not the most–improbable wins in the history of Supercross. While Andrew Short and John Dowd won their first and only premiere class main events at 29 years-old and 32 years-old, the majority of the riders at the top of the oldest winners list had all previously won multiple main events and none did it at the most grueling SX of them all: Daytona. Mike LaRocco (33 Years 1 month) had won 9 SX main events previously, Chad Reed (32 years, 11 months) had won 43 previously, Kevin Windham (32 years 2 months) had won 17 previously and Jeff Ward (29 years, 11 months) had 19 previous main event wins. It’s rare for a professional SX winner to win a race when over 30 years-old, but the fact that Brayton’s was his first and that he did it at Daytona makes this moment the equivalent of finding Big Foot. If you’re an SX fan, it’s a night you will likely remember forever.
While the fans were blown away by Justin’s win, I don’t think anyone was more surprised by the win than Justin was. Chase Yocom caught up to Justin in Daytona to talk to him about it.
Justin, we talked to you last weekend and you talked about Daytona not being one of your favorite races ever. (laughs) This weekend, you might have changed that with this win. You have to be over the moon with this win.
I can’t even believe it, to be honest. I’m speechless. I honestly do not know what to say. Daytona… just so much history here. If you’re going to pick any of them to win, it’s either Anaheim 1 or Daytona. It’s so special. To get my first one… pfft, just amazing. I got a little bit of a taste of it last weekend with that main event one win and I wanted it. It was a little bit of a weird week ’cause I’m reading stuff like, “Is it a main event win? Is it not?” I know it’s not, but I still won a race. I’m like, “Hey, just go get it done.” You always think you can win and you always want to win, and after the heat race [win] I knew I could. This track really suited my style more than any Daytona track has ever. But still, [Eli] Tomac is unreal here. I knew that I had to sprint the first four, five laps. That’s what I did. I executed that part of the race which set me up well for the whole race. That’s what I gotta do better, is believe in myself those first five laps. I was going all out to try to get a cushion that first lap. It was amazing, dude. Daytona winner! Supercross winner! It’s unreal–the week of my birthday too. I turn 34 this week. I feel like I gave some hope to the older guys, and I don’t feel like there’s any end in sight. I don’t know what the plan is, but it’s pretty amazing. I’m going to enjoy this tonight.
It’s pretty crazy to me. All year everyone was talking about Chad Reed possibly becoming the oldest main event winner and no real mention of you. Well, here comes Justin Brayton and you’re now the man that holds the title for the oldest main event winner.
I thought about that, to be honest. I felt like if I spoke out about it, though, people would have laughed because I hadn’t won one yet. Chad’s won multiple races, and who knows, he may beat my record. But I’ve thought about it, absolutely. I felt like coming into this year I was riding good enough to do it and I think I proved that a lot of weekends this year. I just can’t believe I did it at Daytona. If it was St. Louis (laughs) or a race like that I feel like people would kind of not expect it, but maybe say, “Cool.” But Daytona, that’s amazing.
What was going through your mind when Marvin Musquin crashed. I assume you saw it ’cause he was right in front of you. Were you like, “Yeah, this is my time now”?
Yeah I saw it. I didn’t know who was behind me. I didn’t know if it was still Christian [Craig], but I just said, “Put in some good laps. Ride your own deal.” At one point, I was +10 [10 second lead], and I was like, “You cannot mess this one up. You’re going to kick yourself in the butt for the rest of your life if you do.” Coop [Cooper Webb] was 2nd for a while and we were kind of yo-yo’ing. Once Eli got him, he put in a sprint, caught me like three bike lengths and I was like, “Alright, you better go.” I put in some good laps at the end and it paid off.
With this year’s Daytona being more jumpy, do you think that played into your favor?
Oh yeah, 100%. Ricky [Carmichael] did an awesome job. I feel like it should be like this every year. In year’s past, it’s been so follow the leader–just real tight and not fun. I think if you asked all of the riders today, 99% of them would say it was a great track.
I think maybe the most trouble you had all day was maybe popping the cork on the champagne bottle. (laughs) What was going on there?
My hands were so sweaty that it just kept slipping. I couldn’t even get a grip on it. I tried to use my gloves and my gloves were all sweaty. Then I tried to use my shirt, my shirt’s all sweaty. (laughs) So I had to have a guy in the crowd do it. (laughs)
I guess, shout out to him. (laughs)
Did you get to light up your tire on the Daytona pavement and burn some rubber?
I didn’t even think of that until you just said it now. Hey, I’m in the record books and I got the win.
That’s all that matters. We’re now going back to regular Supercross next weekend. Should people be scared now that you’re getting on a roll here?
I don’t know. You say scared, but I’ve always said if I get one, it’s on. It’s on now!