Photos & Interview by: Chase Yocom – Written by: Dan Lamb
Here we go again, another season is coming to a close and Troy Lee Designs / KTM’s Jordon Smith has quietly put himself in solid contention for the 250SX Eastern Region Championship. While everyone talks about Zach Osborne, Austin Forkner and even Jeremy Martin, the quiet assassin Smith is now second in the points—just 12 behind Osborne with two to go. I think we need to give Jordon the nickname “Stealth” because every season he flies around under the radar and you barely notice him until near the end when he’s in the thick of the title fight.
At last weekend’s Minneapolis SX, the #45 quietly went a consistent 2-2-3—tying for the win with 7 points—for 3rd overall and his fourth podium of the season thus far. With just two races left on the schedule and Zach looking solid, 12 points will not be easy to make up, but with the finale being an East/West Shootout, it’s not insurmountable. Anything can and usually does happen with both the East and West 250SX riders on the line.
After Minneapolis, Chase Yocom got a hold of Smith to talk about the final “Triple Crown” race of the year and his thoughts on the Championship as the series winds down. My favorite thought from Smith in the interview below about the title chase is, “I guess maybe I should line up inside of Zach and go for the kill right off the start or something. (laughs)” Yes, Jordon did laugh after he said it, but with over a half million dollars in bonus’ on the line, Zach might want to keep one eye open.
Jordon, you rode awesome in Minneapolis. Can you talk about your day in Minnie?
Any day that you leave a race safe and on the podium, it’s a good day. You definitely want to get that win and put yourself in a good position going into the last main. I didn’t get off to the best start; I made a couple of passes to get into the lead, but I was just a little bit off. Those guys were going really fast and you have to be on it in every turn and every whoop section. I was just a little bit off, let Jeremy [Martin] get me. Then Zach [Osborne] ran me pretty far outside and Zach got me as well. I came in a little hot, couldn’t get leaned and high-sided over Zach. That was pretty much it after that. It’s good to get podiums, but I definitely need to get some wins coming out of the season.
The term, “there’s sparks flying,” there were literally sparks flying for you. That was wild, but awesome to see. At least keep it up on two wheels too, ’cause that could have gone bad.
We had just started jumping the whoops and we hadn’t done that all day. We were going 3-3 and then 4 out there and I came up just a little short and I landed right on a rock. I could hear it smack the skid plate under my bike. That’s never good. It was a little sketchy, but I was glad I could ride it out.
Minneapolis was the second “Triple Crown” for you guys. What are your thoughts on the format and would you like to see more?
If the fans like it, I think it’s good. It’s definitely harder on the riders and the teams. Like some of the 450 guys said, it’s really stressful, you know. You have three races that count instead of one and the last main event is almost as long as a regular main. It’s really stressful and especially like it was in Minneapolis. Usually we go back to the truck in between and it was a foot of snow out there. We got soaking wet, then cold then hot, so it was definitely tough.
For me, it’s weird how they do the points too. Like Zach told me he thinks there should be more points awarded for a win. I’m not sure I like the way they do the Olympic scoring.
It would have helped me out if I finished 2nd in the last main or something. It is what it is, and in amateur racing that’s how it is. When we go to Loretta’s, it’s Olympic-style scoring.
What were your thoughts on the track in Minneapolis? Condition-wise it seemed to hold up better, but it was a little one-lined.
With the “Triple Crown” we have a bit more time in between races instead of the LCQ’s, so I think they keep up with the track a bit better on those weekends. With the second corner, there were deep ruts all night and it was getting tough by the end of each main, but they were prepping it before the next one. That was a big help. It was soft last year and I expected it to be soft this year. It was snowing outside and it’s crazy. What are we in now, April?
The sand section didn’t seem to work well at all. What were your thoughts on that section?
The sand, they try to make some jumps in it and it doesn’t really work most of the time. We just kind of go through it anyway. I think it would be better if it was just a straightaway and we got a few different ruts going through it. Usually the sand doesn’t really make a huge difference. By the end of the night, it gets harder packed and it’s mainly just a big difference maker in practice. We came out for track walk and they had these huge steep whoops in it, but after three guys went through it in practice, they were gone.
We’re getting close to the end of the Championship now. Austin Forkner broke his collarbone and is out for a while and you moved up to second in the points. You’re just 12 points down now with two races to go. What’s the game plan, just go for the wins?
I guess maybe I should line up inside of Zach and go for the kill right off the start or something. (laughs) No, I’m just kidding.
(laughs) Maybe it’s your turn to have the last second pass in Vegas for the title this year?
For sure. Really, what I have to do is just keep doing what I’m doing and put myself in good positions. To go 2-2-3 and get 3rd overall is kind of unfortunate. It happens and I’m sure it happened to me in amateurs before. I just have to be ready for any mistake Zach makes and be able to capitalize on it.
This is the second year in a row you’ve put yourself in a good position to win the title and that’s gotta be good for the confidence. It means you’re doing something right.
It’s awesome. Last year, coming into the season I hadn’t had a very good first two years of SX and we were just hoping to get on the podium as much as we could. If we could squeak out a win, awesome. That kind of changed pretty quickly. I started getting on the podium almost every weekend, won two races in a row and the next week we got the points lead. Going into Vegas was a bit overwhelming, but this year I came in expecting to be in this situation. I was hoping to be a bit closer to Zach or have the red plate, but it’s always good to be in this situation. It makes going to the races and waking up on Monday and Tuesday morning a lot easier whenever you have a chance at the Championship. That’s what we all want and that’s what we all dreamed of as a kid: getting that championship. These guys are tough and they definitely don’t give it to you.