Photos by: Octopi

For the second straight start of a Monster Energy Supercross season, Monster Energy / Yamaha’s Justin Barcia kicked the season off with a big win at Anaheim 1, but his win this year looked a lot more convincing on a dry Angel Stadium circuit. This year’s win even led some to believe that 2020 could be the year of BamBam. A week later in St Louis, Justin backed that win up with a solid 2nd place finish—securing the red plate for the second weekend in a row and carrying a six-point lead into the second Anaheim of the year.

Two weeks later and after a 9th at Anaheim 2 and a 5th overall on Saturday night in Glendale, some are now wondering if the first two rounds were a fluke and if Justin has again reverted back to being that 5th to 10th place guy we have seen for the last few years. Only time will provide any real answers to those questions but in my opinion, we are going to see more podiums and even possibly more wins from Justin as the season moves on. I obviously would not bet my house on it, but from the conversations I’ve had with the #51 this year, he just seems too confident and too driven for it not to happen.

After Justin’s 5th overall on Saturday night in Glendale, Arizona, I caught up with him to talk about his performance at the first “Triple Crown” race of the 2020 season.

Justin has lost the red plate to Ken Roczen, but don’t write him off yet.

Justin, 5th overall tonight? 6-8-7 motos for 5th overall. Not a normal score to net 5th overall, but I’m sure you will not argue with the math in this situation. (laughs)

I don’t know about that, but it sounds alright. (laughs) Sounds better than I felt tonight. I just was a little off with the bike setup this weekend again. We’ll go back to California, go back to my normal setting again and find my happy place again. It was a tough night. I didn’t have the greatest starts. I just need to fine-tune a few things here and there but, all in all, I think this place took some guys down tonight so it’s good to get out of here healthy and move it on to next weekend. I for sure need to find my happy spot and get back to closer to the front. That’s for sure.

 

My friend Cooksey and I were watching you closely from the press box in practice and you looked really comfortable out there early on. You weren’t at the top of the board or anything, but something about your flow immediately looked good today.

Yeah, I was a lot more fluid than last weekend. I was fairly happy in practice, but then I made a bad decision with the bike I think. The track went left and my comfort and direction with the setup went right. We need to find that in-between spot. The bike was better in the whoops this weekend but we lost the turns. Every weekend the tracks are different and you need to find that happy medium. Unfortunately, I chose a setting this weet that I felt was really good and would be better and it wasn’t the best for this track.

Justin has embraced the role as one of the fan favorites later in his career.

Do you think as you get older, bike setup becomes a lot more important than say when you’re on 250s or even early in your 450 careers. From my time covering the sport, it seems as you guys get older and smarter, you seem to feel the small little tweaks a lot more and that becomes a much more of a crucial aspect of going fast.

For sure! I think as you get older, you know what you want. For me, I definitely know what I want. I think for every rider, it’s, “I need the stiffest setting possible, but it needs to be plush.” That’s a really hard thing to find and at A1 we had that really good setting. In St Louis, we had that similar setting and we struggled to find that at A2 with the whoops. Then this weekend we were better in the whoops, but we struggled with other things. It’s always a fine line between good and bad. This week we have some things to try, but the good thing is we can go back to our normal setting and see where we’re at there.

 

What did you think of this racetrack tonight? I just got done talking to Cooper and he was talking about their data having him at 75 mph going into that first turn. That’s gotta be a scary situation at times?

(laughs) Yeah, that sounds believable. I don’t know, I wasn’t thrilled with it. Some guys will say they really loved the track, but I didn’t love it. It was kind of one-lined. They build those sideways rhythms and they make the racing one-lined. Just being straight up with you; I think it’s stupid. When you have turning jumps and turning rhythm’s, it makes the track one-lined.

I feel the next couple of rounds are super important if Justin really wants to stay in the conversation for the 450 title in ’20.

I noticed a few sections that ended up being follow the leader tonight.

Yeah, it’s just follow the leader. Then when you get a bad start, there are no real options to pass. For me, I didn’t have good starts tonight and it was extremely difficult to get through the pack. You’d make some time here and here, but then lose a little here and here, but the track was difficult. A little bit one-lined and everyone doing the same stuff. That’s kind of normally how it goes—everyone doing the same stuff—but on some tracks there are a little bit more opportunities. I think this wasn’t my favorite track but you gotta take the good with the bad.

 

You’re now 11 points down now in the title chase going into round five, how does that feel for you? Do you still feel like you’re in a good spot?

Yeah, I’ve been in a lot worse positions. (laughs) I’ve been all the way to the bottom of the sport and back to all the way at the top. For me, I feel like I’m in a good position. I just know I have to do some hard work this week, but I’m a hard worker so that doesn’t really phase me. I need to be really smart this week and come up with a good setting going to Oakland. Because this weekend was a round where I really wanted to turn it around and i struggled a little bit again. All in all, I’m in a good position and I need to keep going at it.

 

Going from being forgotten and a privateer, to back into the Championship conversation so you can’t be too mad at that.

There you go man!