Some times it is the adversity that defines an athlete’s career, and other times it is how the athlete fights back through that adversity that is the true judge of everything. After what we saw at the 2019 Hangtown National, it looks like Monster Energy / Pro Circuit / Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo is going after the latter.

Heading into the final round of Monster Energy Supercross two weeks ago in Las Vegas, AC led the Western Regional 250SX Championship by 8 points, but a crash with the trophy in hand at the end of the main event ended his title hopes. It was one of those moments that could have defined a weaker person’s career, but two weeks later AC was right back on the top step of the podium at the opening round of the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series.

After AC’s 2-1 finish at Hangtown for the first 250MX overall win of the year, we caught up with him under the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit / Kawasaki tent to talk about the win after his tough defeat just two weeks ago.

Conditions in moto 1 were prime at Hangtown, but everyone knew Mother Nature was on her way.

I guess the best vindication to what happened at the end of Supercross is to come out here and just smoke everyone. It’s got to feel good getting the win today.

Yeah, definitely, coming off of a low in Supercross. It sucks the way it ended, but I just feel like I have a pretty decent perspective on real-life problems I guess. I mean, I’m an athlete so I have a great life. I’m not trying to come across like I’m something, but I’ve been in some pretty bad spots mentally and physically in the past. Like the start of my pro career. I basically thought it was going to be done so I was actually able to bounce back pretty quick from it. It took me a few days and yeah, it still sucked. I mean we have another race this weekend, so I’m not going to let it ruin my future races. It happened and you can’t change it. It’s over. So that’s my mentality, but the win feels good. Even just for the team. Their disappointment in Supercross and paying them one back in outdoors and just kinda for me knowing that I’m on the right track. Starting off the season with a win is nice. With that being said, it’s a great win for us, but we’ve got to keep the momentum going. We got 22 mottos left. But it is definitely nice. We’re going to enjoy it.


You have never won here before, so I was a little surprised by how good you were. Did you expect something like this today?

I mean, yeah, I did. I’m confident in my ability and the bike’s awesome this year. It’s better than it’s ever been and it’s always good. So yeah, I expect this from myself, In the first moto, I was a little bit bummed. My right arm kind of got a little bit tight, which is weird for me. I think just the track with super choppy and I was holding on a little bit tight—first moto of the year. I felt great all day long. Justin Cooper road great in that first moto to get that win and in the second moto, I had to Colt [Nichols] behind me there for a while. I just had to keep the pedal down and keep grinding. It was nice.

AC on his way to a 2nd place finish in moto 1.

You made a run at Justin in that first moto, but then he got away. It was almost like a one and done push, but for a minute it was close.

Yeah, he was riding good. You can’t take anything away from him. I think in the beginning we both were kind of being a little bit smart. Seeing how the track was playing out, we didn’t want to do anything too crazy the first couple of laps in the new season I think. That was kind of the vibe I got from him. We kind of went back and forth and I was kind of Yo Yo’ing. I was better on the side of the track after the finish line and he was better on the other side and I just couldn’t figure out that other side of the track. I made a run at him and then I pumped up with like five laps ago and he sprinted away from me and got a little gap. Then I had [Chase] Sexton and [Dylan] Ferrandis kind of catching me there at the end so I had to kind of lay it down there the last couple of laps again.


They got closer to catching you at the end than I expected. (laughs)

Yeah, me too. Until like the 25-minute mark, we were pulling them every lap—Sexton and Dylan.


Yeah, you had like nine seconds on them at one point I noticed. That was with not much time to go either.

Yeah. And then all of a sudden those two were right there on the last lap. I ride with Chase, so I know he’s got so much speed in the tank. So when he gets comfortable like that at the end of the moto… Obviously, when you have Dylan trying to pass you, you got to go faster. It was tough.


You went wire-to-wire in that second moto with Mother Nature tearing the track up. How tough were the conditions in the second moto out there?

It was really hard. I looked at the pit board at halfway to go and I had like 18-seconds, so at that point, it’s just a mental exercise to stay focused the whole time. Especially with those ruts coming down the hills. You’ve got to be balanced and focused. If you lose your concentration for a half a second, you’re on the ground. You have to be locked in the whole time and it’s almost harder when you’re out there by yourself.

After Mother Nature hit, the Hangtown circuit was basically a rutted out slot car track.

Are you just thinking don’t fall, don’t fall?

Yeah. I mean that’s not my mindset. (laughs) You’ve got to focus on what you need to do, not what you don’t need to do. But yeah, it was difficult. At the same time, I felt really comfortable. Once I knew I had a lead, I didn’t look at a pit board until halfway or so. After that, I was a little bit smart.


You did some chest pounding as you rode by the fans after that second moto. Was that for anyone or anything in particular?

No, just raw emotion. Coming off the loss in Vegas and bouncing back. Yeah, that was for that.


Heading to Pala now with the red plate and a little lead in the Championship to start. Do you go into points protection mode now? (laughs)

No, definitely not. (laughs)


I kid, I kid. How do you like that place? I know it can be a little one-lined at times.

It’s awesome! I love Pala. We rode the national track a couple of weeks ago, and I think Brian did a great job with, I think it’ll be a good race track. Obviously, it’s pretty flat, but they do have a couple of hills there on the back. It’s going to get really rough too. Most of the time everybody’s cutting the track on practice days so it’ll be nice to have some banners up.

Photos by: Octopi


Dan Lamb is a 12+ year journalist and the owner of MotoXAddicts.