“If you ride for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, you need to be up there and winning races, contending for championships and winning championships,” pointed out Adam Cianciarulo early last week. “That’s been proven in the past by a lot of guys that who have come before. I think the vibe right now is that we need to get back on top and we need to put our best out there and not leave anything on the table. I think we’re all competitors and we’re sick of losing.”
And Adam Cianciarulo did, in fact, win last Saturday night inside State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. A clear-cut drop-of-the-gate-to-checkered-flag performance, the six-year veteran showed the entire 250SX West Region that he’s playing for keeps in 2019, flashing across the finish line with a more than nine second lead.
Trying to beat out the rain and get a few laps before turning his full attention to Angel Stadium of Anaheim come Saturday, Cianciarulo took a break today to get us up to speed on what’s transpired thus far, as well as what just might be around the next corner.
Racer X: Drop of the gate to the checkered flag. Out front and pulling away the entire race. Looked like an Adam Cianciarulo clinic out there. A dream come true sort of race for you?
Adam Cianciarulo: Yeah, absolutely. It was a good race for us to bounce back after Anaheim 1. That race didn’t go exactly how we wanted it to go. All day I felt comfortable on the Phoenix track. I really like those rhythm lanes as well as that hard, slick dirt. I gelled with the track, but more importantly for me, I feel like that’s a repeatable performance for me on the bike. I’ve also felt good physically and all that lately too. It’s nice to go out there and have a good weekend and execute everything the way you know how. That gives me a lot of confidence knowing I can continue to do that. Obviously, that’s the goal going forward.
I spoke a bit with Eli Tomac over the weekend and we talked about how gnarly both supercross and motocross are. There are all sorts of motor racing out there, but in our sport, it’s 80-percent the guy, you know? It all rides on you when you climb on the motorcycle.
Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s what makes our sport unique as well. For me, there is no better feeling then when you win. Although you can’t do it without your team. Everybody around you is supporting you. There is that aspect of it where it’s like, “I did it. I’m the best.” There is a sense of pride that comes with that. There is also the opposite when you fail and fall apart. That falls on you and pretty much you alone. You’ll have something here or there that might be out of your control, but like you said, 80 percent of it relies on you. You have the most to benefit. I think that’s what makes winning in this sport feel so good. Ultimately, you’re the one waking up every morning and putting it on the line.
Our sport is so much about the guy riding the bike. So many things have to work in unison to even have a hope at winning. Not an easy job description, huh?
Yeah, it’s crazy to look back at those records with RC [Ricky Carmichael] and [Jeremy] McGrath. Clearly with those guys, I think it started with the mental aspect and then the willingness to work for protection. They never put a limit on themselves in regard to how much they could win and how much they can win by. I enjoy going back and looking at old lap times and margins of victory and stuff like that. Those guys, especially RC, he used to win by a minute or 30 seconds. That was the normal deal. I think that domination starts with a mindset and then you get confident and then it just steamrolls from there.
You held station at the front of the pack for all 16 laps. How did you feel, and could you feel the laps clicking off?
All day I felt comfortable and I was really focused. Everybody kept asking me about Anaheim 1 and what happened and what we were doing and this and that. I really did a good job of putting that A1 race behind me and really focusing ahead. I know I made some bad decisions at Anaheim, but I didn’t feel like it was going to be an ongoing problem. I just got a little ahead of myself and made some bad decisions. I just really wanted to put my best foot forward at Anaheim 2. I just had a goal of just doing my very best every lap I was out there from free practice all the way through the main event. It’s almost like a feeling of—and this shouldn’t come across as cocky at all—“I expect to be here.” When I was sitting on the gate at Phoenix, I was visualizing myself ahead with a clear track and me putting my best laps forward. From sitting on the line, I had already seen all that in my head. Those are the best races when you know you’re going to be up front like that. It was certainly mindset that, of course, I’d like to try and make every weekend. It’s not always going to go picture perfect and go your way, but it certainly worked last weekend.
Goofy question, but does leading the main event at your level make the race go by faster?
It’s funny because when you get a bad start and you need to make up some time, that’s when the races seem to go by the fastest. For me, like I said, I was so locked in and so focused that I didn’t really think about how far somebody was behind me or where second place was or how far into the race I was. When I did finally look up, there were about four minutes left in the race. I saw that I had a pretty sizeable lead. That’s when you have to reign in your focus. When you think, “Oh man, I’m going to win this main event!” you have to push those thoughts out and focus on the track and the task at hand—especially when you don’t have somebody breathing down you neck. You’re basically out there doing a practice moto when you’re out front like that. Yeah, it went by a little slow at that point because I realized that I had a little bit of a lead. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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I know the win meant a tremendous amount to you. How was the team with everything afterwards?
If you look at any type of championship organization, or any type of dominant championship level athlete, the one personality trait that most have in common is that they’re level headed. In order to keep yourself consistent and at your best, you can’t get too high or too low. I really noticed that the vibe within the team was super-level headed after Anaheim 1. We took the positives from it and watched film on Monday night and we left it there and went forward. There was also a great vibe within the team after our success at Phoenix. We’re not surprised that we are there. That’s where we need to be. Of course we’re proud to have success and to be on top, but there is definitely that sense of, “Alright, let’s go back to the drawing board and let’s find places where we can get better and continue to strive to be the best as we can be” and that goes for myself and the team.
You guys are only two rounds into the new season and it’s obviously wide open right now…
I think it’s really competitive. In the top five you’ve got RJ Hampshire, Dylan Ferrandis, and Colt Nichols. Shane McElrath is in there. I think I’ve done my best so far this year to not really look to my left or the right. Coming into the season, I didn’t look to see who was [racing] West Coast and who was East Coast. I’m just kind of focused on myself. I just pretend I’m out there by myself. I just have to do the best I can, because that is, ultimately, all you can do. I think all those guys that I mentioned are capable of doing really good things, and they’re all talented and they are all there for a reason. I look forward to battling them and having some really good races here as we get all the way down to Vegas.
In the last year or two, I’ve talked to a few former championship-winning racers and the one thing they always come back to is how much they miss the crazy highs and lows of racing. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of that, but it makes a lot of sense now. Does that make any sense?
Yeah, it does. I think it makes a lot of sense. I think that starts with how much commitment you have to have to this sport at such a young age. As motocross racers, we don’t have much perspective because winning or losing a race it’s our lives.