Team Honda HRC rider Christian Craig put in a solid performance at the penultimate round of the AMA Supercross series in Salt Lake City, Utah, riding smoothly and consistently to a fourth-place finish. The Californian completed lap one of 26 in third place and stayed there until slipping a position on lap 14. After briefly recapturing third two laps later when Eli Tomac fell, Craig was overtaken again with eight laps remaining. His fourth-place result matched his best in the 450SX division, posted in Daytona Beach, Florida, in March.
- Christian Craig was among the riders invited to take part in the Friday press day at Rice-Eccles Stadium. He took the opportunity to get two 10-minute sessions on the track (minus the whoop sections), after which he and wife Paige sat down with Juliana Daniell for a Race Day Live! interview about how they manage life on the race circuit as a family.
- On Friday night, Team Honda HRC substitute rider Christian Craig joined GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton and MotoConcepts riders Justin Brayton, Vince Friese, and Jake Weimer, along with Adam Enticknap for a pre-race party at Honda World in South Jordan. A strong showing of enthusiastic fans showed up to meet their favorite riders and collect autographed posters, and for chances to win raffled prizes.
- A daytime schedule was implemented for the third time this year and the second time in a row, which meant an early start for the teams and riders, with track walk at 7 a.m. and the program finishing by 6:30 p.m. “We love having two weeks in a row like this,” Craig said. “You get a decent dinner and get in bed by 8 or 8:30, and you don’t feel like a zombie on Sunday.”
- A fall in the final timed qualifying session contributed to Craig having the 11th best lap overall, a 48.616″ set in the first timed session. Brayton was 13th best, the Smartop/Bullfrog Spa/MotoConcepts rider posting a 49.055″ in the final session.
- In 450SX heat 2, Craig rode in fourth for most of the race before finishing in that position, whereas Brayton suffered a poor getaway in the same race and worked his way up to seventh by the checkered flag. (Brayton would go on to finish sixth in the main event.)
- The 4,567 foot elevation of Rice-Eccles Stadium posed a challenge for some, but Craig wasn’t particularly concerned coming in. “I rode a 450 here last year too and thought the elevation would bother me, but it didn’t,” he said, “so I didn’t do anything to prepare for it at all. I approached it with a mindset of ‘I don’t feel the elevation,’ and maybe that helped.” On the bike, mechanic Rich Simmons went up a tooth on the rear sprocket and, after using the standard mapping on press day, made a change to provide a little more bottom end on Saturday.
- The Salt Lake City track included what were arguably the toughest whoops of the entire series, and Craig—who is known for being strong in the whoops—used them to his benefit by making up time and executing passes through those sections. “After seeing how many 250 guys went down in the whoops, I was thinking it was going to be tough,” he admitted. “But I had committed to blitzing them all night and not jumping them no matter what. It worked out in my favor.”
- With only one AMA Supercross round remaining, much of the teams’ and riders’ attention has turned to preparing for the upcoming AMA Pro Motocross series. “I’ve actually been riding more outdoors than supercross lately,” Craig said. “I do two days a week of outdoor and then one day of supercross before the race. After so many months of supercross, it feels good to switch it up, and I think it actually helps. Your first day outdoor, you kind of feel lost, but then you find your flow and feel better when you go back to supercross.”
- The 250SX West class was back in action in Salt Lake City after two weekends off. GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton was seventh after one lap in the main event but quickly advanced through the ranks to fifth place by the end of lap three, and that’s where he would remain for the rest of the 19 lap race. The Floridian is fifth in the points chase.
- The 2018 AMA Supercross series winds up this coming weekend at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. On Friday, Craig will take part in a pre-race party at RideNow Powersports.
“I made some mistakes in practice and had to regroup in order to go out there and do a good heat. In the main I thought, ‘I’m just going to try to get a good start and stay up there with those guys,’ which is exactly what I did. I latched onto the top two and put in my laps. It was a long main, especially on this track. I stayed with [Blake] Baggett for as long as I could. Eli [Tomac] was just on a mission. He passed me but fell, and I thought I might get a podium if he stayed down long enough. He got by me again, but it was a fun race. I’ve had some bad races since Daytona, and you begin to wonder if the Daytona ride was a fluke. It feels good to back up that fourth place.”
Erik Kehoe: Team Manager
“I think Christian learned a lot today. In practice he had had a pretty hard crash, made some mistakes, and had a few issues, but he learned from that and turned his day around. He got a good start in the main and rode solid. Now we need to carry that momentum into next week and finish out this series strong to carry some confidence into the outdoors.”
Rich Simmons: Mechanic (Christian Craig)
“It was a good day. It got off to a rough start with a couple of crashes in practice and some repairs, and it would’ve been easy for Christian to roll over. Instead, he gathered himself up and had a decent heat race and a good main. He got a good start and looked like he was going to make a pass for the lead through the whoops in the first couple laps. Justin Barcia made a push at the end, but with three laps to go, Christian dropped his lap times by almost a second and showed a lot of fight. I think it’s the best ride I’ve seen out of him on a 450, and maybe even a 250. I’m proud of him for how he rode and proud of the team for helping me to get everything done.”
Mandie Fonteyn // Jonnum Media // firstname.lastname@example.org // +1 (951) 537-0454
450SX Main Event Overall Results
1. Marvin Musquin
2. Eli Tomac
3. Blake Baggett
4. Christian Craig
5. Justin Barcia
6. Justin Brayton
7. Weston Peick
8. Benny Bloss
9. Vince Freise
10. Tyler Bowers
450SX Championship Points (after 16 of 17 rounds)
1. Jason Anderson 338
2. Marvin Musquin 324
3. Eli Tomac 292
4. Justin Brayton 264
5. Blake Baggett 264
6. Weston Peick 235
7. Dean Wilson 193
8. Broc Tickle 184
9. Cooper Webb 181
10. Justin Barcia 163
17. Christian Craig 115