Monster Energy / Yamaha’s Justin Barcia won his first main event in six years at the 2019 Anaheim 1 SX, but when Justin ended up not winning another main event or landing on the podium for the rest of the ’19 season, some gave the win an asterisk because of the muddy conditions. Well, last night Bambam did it again, but this time the weather and track were perfect for racing.
After a lot of racing and an injury-free offseason for Justin, he still came into the Anaheim opener under the radar, but after his very eye-opening win inside Anaheim Stadium on Saturday night, I think the #51 just inserted his name into the 450 Championship conversation. It was Justin’s fourth 450 win in his eighth year in the premier class, but this could very well be the biggest win of his career.
This sport is all about confidence and that A1 win is the kind of win that could ignite a special season for Justin and for the whole factory Yamaha 450 team—who work really hard and could really use a reason to smile. We will have to wait and see what happens as the series moves forward, but I am glad I was in the stadium to witness that one. Before we left the stadium, we caught up with Justin at the Yamaha truck and asked him about his night. You can read our conversation below
Justin, two wins in a row for you at Anaheim 1. You gotta be stoked. Last year you had the naysayers saying, “Oh, it was muddy. Justin’s great in the mud.” But this year, it was a perfect day and you made it happen.
It was perfect. I proved I can ride in the dry and in the mud. (laughs)
Well, we’ve kind of always known that, but it’s obviously good to prove it to yourself again.
Yeah, it shows that when I’m comfortable on the bike, things go a good way. Me, and my Yamaha team have worked super hard in the offseason. I keep saying that over and over but busted our hump. I’ve never worked harder and we did all the right things so everyone deserves this for sure.
It looked like it was a really healthy offseason for you as well.
It was awesome! I raced two overseas races, went to the UK for Christmas and I took the breaks when I needed to. I worked really hard too and kept it on two wheels. I think I maybe slid out twice in the whole offseason. (laughs) It was a phenomenal offseason! This is now the fun part that we enjoy when that hard work pays off.
The last time you went to Geneva to race, unfortunately, I don’t think you remembered it [Justin was landed on by Tomac and suffered a massive concussion in Geneva 2014]. It had to be nice to get through it all clean this year.
Yeah, exactly. (laughs) You always want to remember where you went and where you’re at.
(laughs) Were you surprised at all by how good your pace was tonight and how other than AC, nobody could really match you? You and AC were on another level. I saw you looking over to the opposite lane nearing half way to see where 3rd was and that had to feel good when you saw the gap?
There was that spot on the track where you could look over and see what was going on and, yeah, we checked out. It was crazy. You just put yourself in a good position and ride your own race. The bike was working the way I needed it to work and my riding was awesome. Was I surprised? I don’t think I surprised myself, though. I wanted to be in the mix and if the mix was winning it tonight, I’ll take that any day. It was sick.
After that last big mistake and Adam got by you, you actually started to reel him back in too. That was the most impressive part of your race I thought.
Yeah, it was cool! I made that big mistake, then I made another little one and then AC got me and I think a 3.5-second lead. I closed it up and then he made that one mistake and I was able to get around him and kind of put on a hard charge. I got a little gap and that was it.
The track looked like it broke down and you guys were right on that ragged edge where mistakes were a hairline away at all times.
The guys at Dirt Wurx did a phenomenal build today. The track was awesome. In all my years of racing Anaheim 1, this was the best layout in my opinion. It wasn’t too dangerous, but it was technical when it broke down. It always will be like that when they breakdown. They need to keep that up with the safe tracks because they’ll get hard when they breakdown no matter what. There was one big set of whoops, one little set of whoops and I think it all worked out. It was a really good track. Anaheim gets hard and slick by the end of the night and there were some kickers, ruts and it was great.
That big rhythm before that first set of whoops, you, AC and a few other guys started doing the 3-3 through there consistently in the main. I’m not sure if you or AC started doing it first? Was that something you planned to do before the main or did you see AC pull it and just go for it?
I was doing that earlier in practice and only a few of us were doing it. I didn’t see AC hit it.
Oh, I didn’t see you pull that in practice. That looked big! The second triple threw you guys so high.
I didn’t do it in my heat race because the face was a little messed up but in the main, I just started popping it. It was a badass rhythm section, for sure. There were a lot of little technical things, but that’s what really separates us.
Alright, well thank you for the time Justin and congrats on another very successful Anaheim 1.