Two weekends ago in Daytona, Troy Lee Designs / KTM’s Jordon Smith pulled himself back up into contention for the 2018 Eastern Regional 250SX Championship with a win, and there’s nothing he needed more than to back it up in St. Louis. Unfortunately, a heat race crash forced the #45 to qualify through the LCQ and left him with a far outside gate in the St. Louis main event.
In the main event, Jordon got off the gate badly, and with his two Championship rivals, Austin Forkner and Zach Osborne, 1-2 and checking out, it was an uphill battle. Jordon made his way up to fourth and it looked like his forward progress on the night was over, but Forkner later crashed out of the lead and handed some points and a podium finish over to Jordon.
With his third place finish behind Osborne and Jeremy Martin, Jordon lost four points to Osborne and gained three on Forkner—who crossed the line in fifth. Now heading into the first of two East / West Shootouts of 2018 in Indy next weekend, it’s a huge opportunity to carve into Osborne’s 12 point lead by winning and possibly putting some of the West riders in between himself and the #1e.
After his St. Louis podium, Jordon answered some questions about his race, the track and heading into the East / West race next weekend.
Watch Jordon’s GoPro from St Louis main
Jordon, you had a crash in that heat race that kind of set you back early, and then things didn’t really seem to rebound from there all the way. Was that part to do with it, or it was just one of those nights where things were a little off?
Yeah, I felt really good in practice all day. The best speed I’ve probably ever had at a race. I went down there in the second turn in the heat and was just really playing catchup for the rest of the night from there. With the tunnel being in between the starting gates, it was tough being on the outside. I was really a long ways out there. Didn’t get off to a very good start and just tried to salvage what I could.
Last week’s win was great, but it seemed like it kind of got lost amid the tie in the championship standings between Zach [Osborne] and Austin [Forkner]. After that win—plus your third place tonight—you’re in the hunt again just like you were last year. What is it about finding these consistent rides midway through the season that you’ve been able to put together these last two years?
We’ve kind of got everything dialed in a little bit this year. Just bringing what I’m doing at the practice track to the race track and getting good starts again like I was last year. The first two races weren’t great starts, and I’m getting better at those. Yeah, just trying to put in solid rides. It sucks on a night like tonight where we lose points to the leader. That’s not what we want to do, especially in a short series. I can’t have too many nights like tonight, but try and put it back on top of the box next weekend.
Let’s talk about that quad. How was it? What did you think about it and were you looking for other guys to pull the trigger first? Did you think during track walk you could jump it?
After I heard Mookie [Malcolm Stewart] did it, I was not expecting any of us to do it. Then the B group went out and [Josh] Osby did it the first lap. He didn’t even look at the track, and he almost made it. I’m like, well, if he almost made it we’ll probably be able to make it. I did it pretty early in the practice, but I didn’t enjoy it very much, really. It was a pretty scary jump. In practice I actually came up a little bit short on it and almost ended up in the nets, but was able to just keep it in the tough blocks.
Next weekend we’re heading to Indy for the showdown [East / West Shootout]. I want to get your thoughts about going up against the West Coast guys. You have two Shootouts this year.
I feel like a lot of guys have gotten hurt on the East Coast now, and it’s a little bit harder to make up points. I think it gives me a good chance to put in a good main event next weekend and make up some good points on the championship and see what happens. You know, you really can’t worry too much about the West Coast guys. Just do our thing.
Your thoughts on the split start today? We’ve seen it at the Monster Energy Cup where you have split starts and you go around and kind of funnel down, but this was a little bit different. Did you like it?
It was tough for me having 14th gate pick. I was pretty far outside and felt like I was a little bit behind the eight ball before the gate even dropped. It was tough being way out there, but just had to make do with what you got.
Photos by: Simon Cudby