We’re now five rounds and ten motos into the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship and Monster Energy / Yamaha’s Justin Barcia looks like he’s beginning to find his happy place on the factory Yamaha 450. The #51 started the year off on the podium at Hangtown, but while he was on the box, he was still quite a ways off the pace of Eli Tomac and Marvin Musquin. Justin was again on the podium for round four at High Point, but he was a massive 41 seconds and 77 seconds off of Marvin and Eli in the two motos.

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This last weekend at Muddy Creek, though, Justin finally found the comfort and speed he needs to run with the #1 and the #25, finishing ahead of Marvin in moto one and finishing ahead of Eli in moto two—just seven seconds behind Eli in moto one and three seconds behind Marvin in moto two. Justin’s 2-2 for 2nd overall on the day at the 2018 Tennessee National was his best overall of 2018 and his third podium of the year, but more importantly, it gave he and the factory Yamaha team some much needed shot of confidence moving forward.

As he sits now, Justin is third in the 450MX AMA Championship and unfortunately a massive 64 points behind Eli, so it may be too little too late for a title run. It will be tough for the #51 to climb into the points chase, but with a contract year looming, every podium and some possible wins down the road is huge towards the dollar amount he will be receiving in ’19 and beyond. For a rider who came into 2018 unemployed, this year has been a triumphant one as far as rebuilding his career and his value. He went from completely unwanted to one of the most sought after riders for the upcoming silly season.

With tracks that he thrives at like Southwick, RedBud and Budds Creek in front of us, we expect Justin to win a moto or two before ’18 is in the books.

After his 2nd overall at Muddy Creek on Saturday, Justin answered a few questions in the press tent.

Justin, I know you’ve been working hard. Not only are you back, but you’re getting stronger each week.

Yeah, for sure, I’m really happy. It was a good day. I’m just getting more comfortable with the bike each weekend. We’re really close, but it’s like we’re just taking steps to get more comfortable. Also, my riding as well is getting better. We’re just trying to put everything together. Today was a step in the right direction. I had a lot of fun. That second moto was tough. That track was really difficult.

 

You mentioned in the first moto that throttle control is really important on this track. When you’re in these battles, how hard is it to control that? How hard is it to maintain throttle control and not override the track?

It’s easy to override a track like this, especially with my riding style, but that’s something I’ve been working on a lot: trying to be smoother. The Yamaha has a lot of power and it’s like when you override it, it makes the chassis tighter. That second moto, I knew Eli was coming at the end and I really needed to throw down some good laps to push it to the limit but still not override it. It’s hard. It takes a good rider to sort this track out. Like Marv [Marvin Musquin] in the second moto, he was on rails and nailing his marks and stuff. I feel like this track is kind of like an MXGP track. It’s slick underneath, with breaking bumps and chop from the throttle. It was a little one-lined today. Lappers were like awful. Besides that, I think this place is great. I had a lot of fun and we’ll keep on working.

More than just his riding in 2018, his newfound humble attitude has gained Justin tons of new fans.

Did you know where you were overall in that second moto or were you just racing your race?

No, when I came off [the track] I had no idea. I was just racing my own race and doing the best I could do with where I was at and how fast I could ride.

 

Heading to Southwick next weekend, can you talk about racing in the sand next weekend?

Yeah, I like Southwick. I grew up racing up there as a kid. It’s a good place for me. I’ve always really enjoyed racing there. I think I got my first win there ever. It’s exciting. I like to send it there.

Click to see how Race Tech can dial in your suspension and motor for the summer

We talked about this at the first race and now we’re at the midway point of the season. Are you interested in racing the MXoN if selected?

America! (laughs)

Photos by: Octopi