Photos by: Octopi
As the winningest amateur in the history of amateur motocross, Monster Energy / Pro Circuit / Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo was the most highly-touted amateur graduate in the history of the sport. AC burst onto the Monster Energy Supercross scene winning three of his first five races and finishing 2nd in the other two, but he crashed, separated his shoulder and has now spent the last four seasons trying to get back there while fighting consistency problems. This seasons, though, consistency has not been the problem; closing the deal on wins has.
The #92 has six podiums in nine 2018 races with his worst finishes being a couple of 7th place finishes, and he is still very much alive in the 2018 Eastern Regional 250SX title hunt. With his second in Salt Lake City on Saturday and the points leader, Monster Energy / Star Racing / Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger, finishing 4th, Adam now trails by 13 points heading into Vegas. That is amazingly similar to last year where he trailed by 14 heading into Vegas. Last year, AC won in Vegas and narrowly missed out on the title by just two points, so don’t think for a minute this Championship is over.
After AC’s second in Salt Lake, I tracked him down to talk about the Salt Lake City SX, his consistency but lack of wins and his thoughts on his Championship hopes in Las Vegas next weekend.
Adam, second in the main event today–I almost said night. (laughs) Good day overall, but how did you feel about your day?
I think the day could have been better, but it could have been worse too. The last four races I went 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd, so that’s difficult for me to take some times. Especially when the wins are right there for me to take. There’s a couple of things I could execute better, but I just gotta make it happen in those clutch moments, you know. Today when Shane [McElrath] was in front of me, he was skimming the left side of the whoops and I was skimming the middle trying to make that work. That didn’t work and it took me way too long to find the left side in the second set of whoops before the finish line. That’s where he won the race. Looking back at that, if I would have changed that sooner things could have been different. I’ll never really know, but that’s the kind of stuff that bums me out. I’m clearly able to win races, I just have to close these things out.
Look, you have six podiums this year and you are second in the Championship–not a bad year&mdashbut how frustrating is it to not be able to close and win one of these?
It’s frustrating! I’m not to a point where I’m discouraged or saying just screw it. I’m very motivated. It’s just frustrating ’cause it’s all me. Everything feels good. The preparation is really good. The program is good. I have really good people behind me. It’s just those decisions [not going left in the whoops when he saw it]. I have to make those decisions better. Moving forward, those are the decisions you have to make to win races. You have to be there and just take it. I just it’s just taking me a little bit too long to diagnose what is going wrong. We have another shot in Vegas and I intend to go out there and give it everything I have.
You’re staying on two wheels this season and being consistent, so that’s a big deal. Is that part of it, though, backing it down a little bit to stay consistent?
In any sport you have to be there to win. I would say today the track was really difficult. I was definitely trying to ride efficient. Looking at film of Shane earlier in the year, I’d come off a heat race and my heart rate was pretty high–not like I was tired or anything, but it was difficult. Then I’d watch Shane ride and–this was actually at Glendale–he’s chilling. I’m thinking, “Man, I can do that.” I don’t need to be doing all these sporadic moves that really don’t gain me time, and I’ve been working on that. I’ve really gotten better throughout the year.
Talking about lines through the whoops, in the first set you were jumping through them and Shane was going way right and skimming them. At the beginning of the race your line there was slower too, but as the race wore on your line in the first set was actually as fast or faster than Shane’s.
I was a little bit uncomfortable in the whoops today for whatever reason. Normally I love the whops but I was uncomfortable with the edges today. I found a kind of jumpy line that I scoped out during the sight lap in that first set. In the beginning I was going into them too slow, but I picked it up. Those whoops were sketchy so I figured they were going to make some mistakes. Joey was all over the place in them. Shane executed well everywhere for the most part today, but I saw him get sketchy in them a couple times. That wasn’t the set I felt like I was losing, it was that second set. If I could have at least skimmed the left side for the last five laps things might have been different.
How close was that with your teammate Joey Savatgy in the beginning? You two hit pretty good and almost both went down.
That was really close. I was thankful he didn’t run me straight into the bales off the start. He could have done that so I was thankful. That was nice. But yeah, we about took each other out. He slid out, I hit his back wheel and it could have gone really bad. Then I had to use a lot of energy to get back by Aaron [Plessinger] and man, it was a crazy race. I honestly lost track of how many times everybody went back in forth. I’m not happy with 2nd, though. We need to win one of these things. I’m definitely cable of it.
You made up a few points on AP today in the points. I think now we go into the finale with you trailing him by 13 points. I’m doing the math in my head, but I think that means if you win, AP will need to get 10th or better to clinch the title. I think you basically have to out score him by 14 points because he would win tie breaker with more wins. Not unheard of in a Shootout format.
We’re basically hoping for a miracle here. For me, it’s not even about that and I’m not trying to win a title without a race win.
Well then win in Vegas. Problem solved.
Exactly! That’s the goal for me. I’m really happy with my starts tonight. They were my best starts all year, so that’s a positive. I’m going to work on some things with the team and myself as well. It just all comes down to executing better. I could not ride from now until Vegas and I’d probably have a better results if I executed better in crunch time.
The SX season is all but over now and we head to Hangtown for outdoors. How is the outdoor testing going? How are you feeling? Do you feel like you are a facorite for that title?
I feel really good so far. Everything is coming along really well. I’m a lot fitter than I’ve been in years past. I feel strong.